Friday 29 December 2017

A short lived Duckling

Connie brings the one surviving duckling off the nest and
quickly has it feeding like a pro.
A quick post this time, as befits the little recovery period we are having betwixt our busy, visitor bedecked Christmas and the New Year weekend. With the French off the premises, Liz headed for Silverwood land for another very quick tour of Mum-minding duty. A family meal with a 3-line whip had been planned but then cancelled without anyone telling Liz so she ended up just doing the one night. Mum is 'fixed' enough to no longer need random daughters fussing about the place. She is signed off now till 15th Jan. 

Little Paddler.
In the mean time, Friends of the Blog will recall that we have a Sussex hen who went broody in late November and then hatched, we think, 4 duck eggs just as the French visitors left. This lady only managed to bring 1 survivor off the nest. I found only one part-chewed corpse, so I guess that the nest got predated by a rat and the other babies were taken alive or dead. 

This double yolker was to be the duckling's Day 4 breakfast.
The survivor ("Little Paddler") was going great guns. His 'Mum' quickly taught him to feed and he was gobbling up the tiny portions of chick-crumb and hard boiled egg I was taking to them 4 times a day. It was alternating snow, hail and sleet outside, so I shut them in the Tígín to be 'safe', warm and dry. By day 3 (Thurs 28th) he was looking very promising and Mum was sleeping on the floor with him under her skirts.

Horrible, sleety, haily weather. Yes, I did get caught with
a line of washing out!
Sadly, this morning, (Day 4) when I went in with breakfast, Mum came down from a higher perch and there was no sign of the duckling. Mum was fussing and clucking around as if asking me where the baby was. We looked everywhere but could find no sign, no sad little corpse. If she had gone up there to perch and left him 'peeping' on the ground, then he'd have frozen to death in minutes and/or been carried off by the rat(s). Maybe he was taken by the rat and she then flew up to perch higher in her angst? We will never know. Ah well. These things happen. Mum spent part of the day all stressed out clucking about, presumably missing him but by afternoon seems to have calmed down and forgotten him. Sorry, Connie. Better luck next time. 

Just a light dusting of snow this time.
We are still determined to do more ducks, so we have decided to buy a Covatutto incubator like the one we used to borrow from Charlotte of the Mini Horses. We will set a dozen eggs in that in the spring time. We may also try Muscovies; not so good for eggs, but much better than the Khaki Campbells for meat. Also,more fun, apparently with their keenness to fly and sit on your roof tops!

Opening up the new Parma style ham.
We finally got around to 'opening' the Christmas leg of 'Parma' style ham. It had been missed off menus and side lined by the sheer amount of food we were trying to cope with, even with the French visitors. 

Roscommon style 'Parma' ham. 
This leg was from the 2016 pigs, so was 16 months at the air-drying / curing and is deliciously sweet. Liz has pronounced it my best so far. I am quite impressed too. We obviously have that job sussed and if any readers would like to come and have a sample (I know Charlotte likes a 'Parma' ham and may be around at present, down from Dublin) then do drop by.

That is about it. We are now all battening down the hatches for the next named storm, Storm Dylan who is meant to roar through on Saturday night. We are under Orange warnings here for 70-80 kph winds all across the Province of Connaught, though inevitably, coastal areas have the highest predicted wind speeds. 

Beyond that, assuming we aren't blown across to Longford, we will also be enjoying the New Year weekend which will also bring me to the end of my latest stint as curator on the @smallholderIRL Twitter account - where I am sharing a fortnight's shift with account boss @foodborn Margaret Griffin. We are nearly done - finishing, neatly, on Sunday 31st Dec. 

Tuesday 26 December 2017

Joyeux Noël, Wren-girls and Ducklings

Messin' with the guests (1). Left to right here, Liz, Augustin,
Mum/Marion (top) and Clara
Best behaviour for the cameras obviously.
When I left you last time we were on the 'ground-rush' phase of Christmas prep, mixing stuffing, glazing ham, trussing turkey, doing last minute shops and counting down the hours to the arrival of our French guests, only one of whom we had ever met. Augustin, of course, called AB while he was here (September) but whose name I can now confidently pronounce as "August-an". That now seems like a lifetime ago.

We have enjoyed one of our best Christmasses of recent years, we all got on like a house on fire and had the break full of happy, jokey banter and chat, sometimes in full French with Liz working hard to dig up all the old vocab' and grammar of her fluent 'au-pair-in-Toulouse' days and massively impressing the Parisians (I am winging it!), sometimes with me stumbling along in 'schoolboy' mode making them laugh (The English are so charming with their mistakes) and sometimes with the visitors equally keen to practice their English. 'They' were AB, his Mum (Marion) and his younger sister, Clara. 

My most noticeable charming mistake was probably mis-remembering ' (table) knife' as 'canif' This had AB and Clara almost wetting themselves as they dreamed up movie scenes while setting out the 'family silver'. A 'canif' is in fact a gang -criminal weapon - a flick knife or a stiletto. They had visions of no-one having a knife to hand and having to whip deadly daggers out of their socks to stab the turkey.

Oeufs de Noël?
The turned out to be the perfect guests. They were dead easy to keep entertained, they loved the food and were hugely impressed by Liz's cooking and well intrigued by the idea of a Christmas pud and later the cake, neither of which they would have been familiar with. Especially they were entertained by the idea of putting the silver thru'pences in the pud and then having the diners choose left or right at the serving so that they could not cheat, gain a thru'pence and thereby become rich... well OK. Clara found the only coin, so she will be the only rich one.

We know AB, of course, and his dreams of travel. Mum (Marion) turns out to be both a former classical singer, now singing teacher, and to be involved in some way with the medical drug/substance abuse support that was Liz's line in Kent. She was quite taken with my voice and wondered if she could do anything with it as a singing teacher. Everyone is different, she says, and your voice is strong and basso-profundo. Clara has picked up 'Grandma Pierette's' DNA (she of the 'Beouf carrottes' recipe AB fed to us in September - see earlier post).

Cutting the Christmas Cake.
Grandma P worked as a nuclear physics scientist in the Marie Curie Institute (we think) and Clara has a real dream of getting in to astro-physics. It was a clear sky on the night of 25th, so we were able to show her our beautiful, unpolluted sky star-field. the "Night of a Million Stars" as we call it. Being from Paris, hazy skies and light-pollution none of them had ever seen anything like it.

AB is a mad keen Chelsea fan. Liz knitted him this CFC hat. 
Marion also fell in love with the livestock and the idea of 'farming' (she was even, at one stage, talking of selling up in Paris and moving to Ireland) and was particularly taken with the new female Guinea Fowl and their 'Buckwheat buckwheat' repetitive calling. I think that was what woke her up, not the 'Cock-a-doodle-doo' of the roosters. We ended up having quite a laugh combining the language hic-cups, the singing lessons and the 'buckwheat' calls into a tongue-in-cheek song-writing session where we tried to include all the in-jokes in the song lyric. ...there goes Elizabet'.... with a cigarette (buck wheat buck wheat)... and it was very funny (buck wheat)... when Clara found the money (buck wheat etc). Ah well. Maybe you had to be there.

Good French people arrive bearing gifts - this massive array of
good trad, strong cheeses, wine, chocs, tea and coffee
All good things must come to an end, though, and our guests were due to head back to Dublin for an explore of the James Joyce sites this morning, the 26th, a Bank Holiday of course. AB had 'found' a bus from Castlerea leaving at 09:00, the only one of the day, he said. We had a rather early alarm call to get everyone through tea and coffee and into the car by 08:30. Liz had done them a 'picnic' of left overs to save everyone having to cram a breakfast.

Possibly the best 'hang' we have ever done.
Succulent and delicious.
But the bus never arrived; AB had mis-read the Internet and found a train that only runs tomorrow. Liz saved the day, going back in on the end of a phone and found our guests a bus from Balla-D at 10:30, so a quick hurried car-shuttle got them to their transport and we did not have to creep back indoors praying that Liz had not stripped the beds. We have since heard from them that they safely made the bus. 

That ham, sliced. Our own pig, of course
That was us, then, back on our lonesome and it now 'Wren Day' or 'St Stephens's Day'.... Boxing Day in the UK. We were determined to have a relaxing time and not achieve too much. There was a bit of pottering but we were both so full of food, that we have not really looked at any food till now - half past 6 at night! The fridge and many other places are stuffed with food - most of the ham is still with us and over half of that beautiful turkey.

All organised. There are lists on the fridge. 
We did not even broach the gifts of fancy cheese, chocs or wine that the guests arrived with. Neither did we 'open' the 'Parma' style ham. There was a menu list, of course, magnetted to the fridge but we were so well fed by the main meal, that the supper just faded like Scotch mist and never got 'deployed' to the table. We all managed a single slice of cake but then collapsed back into our food coma. There was one more customer - a near neighbour - whom we did a 'Meals on Wheels' dinner for but the 'cupboard' is by no means bare yet.

One job we did have to attend to is to give poor crippled, sick-bay hen 'Doris' a good old clean up round the feet. She was badly beaten up by our November 2016 fox and has not been able to walk well since but we felt sorry for her and did not have the heart to cull her out. She has laid a few eggs and comes out of the 'bedroom' part of her run to talk to her number #1 fan, Herme the rooster or to hoover up proffered food but we daren't let her out as she would not be able for the weighty and enthusiastic attentions of a cockerel.

Duckling visible under our broody on the 26th
The only other story today is a good-news tale of our very late-season broody hen, Connie. Friends of the Blog will know that we slipped 5 duck eggs under her back in late November, 'aiming' to have her hatch them while the French visitors were here. 5 other eggs we set in an incubator scored zero. The broody went all through the 24th and 25th with no action, and off went our visitors this morning, unrewarded. The ducklings (les canetons) were not co-operating. No sooner were the French off the premises though, than Connie ejected 2-3 half shells from the nest, empty, dry and hatched out. We lifted her (grumbling) to check and can see at least one healthy duckling. The guests missed the birth by hours.

Finally a fine Irish tradition of which I have spoken previously - Wren Day, when (on the 26th) gangs of local lads in 'Mummers' costumes would parade a captive wren (or a fake one) around the village, calling at houses and extracting treats or money with 'menaces' or they might kill the wren. This all to pay for their knees-up, of course. It was a tradition which died out in the 50s but which now is being revived like 'Trick or Treat' at Hallowe'en. We were happy to be 'mugged' today by a couple of young lasses leppin' in and out of Dad's VW Golf to go door knocking, armed with penny whistles and quite some skill in playing them.

It has been a cracking Christmas, the guests were superb and would be welcome back at any time.

Friday 22 December 2017


With the Dans out of the way, we are now on the run-in to 'proper' Christmas, killing our own turkey, doing the big food-shop and any other acquisitive missions which become necessary, doing any food prep that can be done before the day, and generally getting the place ready for our Seasonal visitors. It is an exciting one, this one, as we are happily welcoming into our home at this important time, 3 people only one of whom we have ever met before. How brave is that? What could possibly go wrong? :-)

A very generous gift of this yule log table
centre decoration comes from a good
village friend, along with a bag of red beet
which he knows we love.
Yep. These people are our French Help-X volunteer from September, Augustin (a.k.a. 'AB') and his mother and younger sister. When AB was here helping, it was just a month out of his 5-month tour of Ireland and we worked out that he'd therefore be still in Ireland over Christmas. We wondered whether he'd be a bit lost in a strange city or might be going home to family for the holiday.

The car gets a jet-wash at the local valet place. It's not been so
clean since we've had it. 
We ended up inviting him back here for the 24th-26th and then, when he found that his Mum and Sister would be coming over to see him, we asked him to bring them too. Liz loves doing this 'hospitality' as you know and will love the chance to practise her French and reminisce about Paris and it will be great fun to see AB again. We will both thoroughly enjoy showing these French folk how Christmas is done in Ireland. Not sure what they'll make of it. We know that they are all really looking forward to it. I will tell you all how it went in the next post. Joyeux Noël!

Bringing the big turkey in for Liz to 'process'.
One dog, at least, is interested. 
Because of all this, we are in a frantic 'prep' mode but as the guests do not arrive until a Christmas Eve afternoon train from Dublin, we can do it all in safety and privacy - no-one to see our frantic chasing about. I dinged the 2nd turkey-stag (the one for here) on the 20th. I like to do all my 'killing' prior to the Solstice. It might just be a silly foible, but prior to the shortest day we are on a down-slope and it is OK to finish a few birds, but after 21st, when we are climbing back up out, it feels wrong to be ending anyone's time on earth.

Fast handiwork in the de-feathering dept. 
This fella looked nearly as big as the one Liz took down to the In-Laws last week. He continued to look that big as he was plucked out and 'dressed' (euphemism for disemboweling and removing extraneous lower legs, head and "giblets" (another euphemism)).

The trussed, short-fuselage version. 
Because they get a night dead, hanging up, head down, by their feet, they come into the kitchen with their legs straight out behind them. This guy, oven ready, gave us quite a scare, being "too big for the oven". We had visions of having to joint him up and cook him in bits - the 'crown' (bone-in both breasts), wings and legs.

Resting in the afternoon
I knew I could do better with a bit of amateur trussing, so I brought him back in from the fridge and heaved his legs into a squat-bend. He is a muscly chap but I prevailed. I lashed his ankle joints together and down to his 'parson's nose' and then ran my twine round under his armpits, shortening his profile by a good 6 inches. Liz always cooks these whole turkeys 'empty' with the 'stuffing' in a separate tray, to let the heat straight into the body cavity, so we can also push the front opening closed without any stuffing bulge. Even shorter. He now fits on the roasting tray, and therefore in the oven. He weighs 8.7 kg and we are very proud of him. He is survived by our hen bird who is only about 4 kg and will now be a keeper till spring. She may give us some eggs.

More left-overs. This one a burger risotto. 
What else have we done? The big 6 kg Christmas ham we brined and froze back in the Autumn had to come out of the freezer to thaw for 24 hours. That big joint gets boiled briefly and then simmered for 6 hours in (cheap, fake) coca-cola. It is the only time we buy 'coke' all year, not being fans of fizzy pop at all. The big lump of meat then gets cooled down and, before the Big Day, has its skin removed and then that fancy diamond design cut into into the sub-cutaneous fat. We stick a clove into each diamond and glaze with some combination of the coke-liquor and mustard to give the lovely golden colour to the baked ham.

Extracting venison marrow using a corkscrew for the dogs,
We did clean the corkscrew afterwards!
Liz has also been whizzing up stuffing mixes, soaking chick-peas for hummus and worrying about other Christmas specials like fancy custard, mince pies, red cabbage, cocktail sausages, pomegranates and so on. Liz went present-shopping to Sligo today, so she's now all over me for having 'finished hers' when I still have a mini-mission to do tomorrow. All good clean fun.

By the time I talk to you again, it will all be over.

Tuesday 19 December 2017

The Dans

Mr and Mrs Dan tuck into a hearty breakfast after their early
flight into Knock Airport. 
In which we enjoy a lovely visit from Friends of the Blog, Dan and Dan, now Mrs & Mrs Dan. We fondly refer to these two as "The Children", because they are like the next generation down. Danielle's Mum is favourite cousin and play mate from Liz's youth, Cathy, who herself visited us earlier in the year. Dan and Danielle have been coming for a couple of years and set off on their scenic tour of Connemara, where Dan proposed to Danielle, last year. They were married this Summer on a cruise ship off the coast of Italy, hence 'Mr and Mrs Dan' now.

Dan accumulating animals. 
These two are the perfect kind of guests - they are immediately at home and relaxed on arrival, they slot in like members of the family. They make no demands on us - we do not feel the need to entertain them or make small-talk. They love the food that we serve them, enjoy the drink and sleep like logs in the spare bedroom. Dan is comfortable enough to slope off and take video-conference calls to do with work, or hide himself away and do a bit of "school" work (he's doing a distance course with LSE at present).

Danielle decking the halls. 
Danielle loves the livestock and can't wait to get out and round catching up with all her old 'friends', missing the ones who are no longer with us and greeting the new arrivals. She's actually on quite a hard-driven mission to 'evolve' from the vegetarian she used to be, to a high-welfare carnivore, but more of that later.

Dans relaxing in the evening.
My first job, then, was to nip over to Knock airport and collect the pair from their early flight. They'd been up since 04:30 and were due to land at 09:35. It was a frosty morning and Liz had sent me off in Mum's snazzy red, nearly new, chequered flag go-faster striped Skoda buzz-bomb. "Be Careful", she said, though I was not about to do anything silly in that low-profile tyre-shod hot hatch. Even so the run out nearly became a story in itself (and the ruin of a good weekend).

A venison supper.
Luckily I was only doing about 40 kph when I hit the black ice just beyond the local bridge. I was very grateful for a youth spent as a fan of motor rallying, messing about trying to rough-house our cars on any snow, ice or gravel we could get access to. The back end of the car stepped neatly out of line and I knew to whip on some opposite-lock to kill the slide before I got anywhere near the soft verges. Roger Clark would have been impressed by my graceful, crossed-up, drifting "moment". I took it even more carefully for the rest of the run and actually arrived a bit late, but luckily Ryan Air did the same to the Dans' wheels-down time, so we all matched up. I brought us all home with equal care.

'Shedders' admire the new premises.
I was briefly interrupted in my hosting at that point by a call on my camera-man services. The Men's Shed are getting a 'branch' (OK, a shed) in local town Balla-D, so they are doing tea and cakes at their new premises and could I come along and take pics for their website. I had not met 'Men's Shed' up to now though I'd heard of them.

A new space for the Shed. An old garage in the back streets
of Balla-D. Rent €0, which can't be bad. 
They are a charity set up to help give a safe and purposeful space to men struggling with general loneliness, or mental issues, drink or depression where they can find company which is not in a pub. That is probably a very bad 'flavour' of what they are about - I will do a fuller paragraph in a future post (when I know more, myself!)

So while I was gone, the gang started to decorate The Tree. This was once Liz had moved it a few times deciding where to put it. This was Danielle's first go at doing a 'real' tree. It is now a tradition here that Tree dressing comes with warmed Glühwein. Liz also lit the open fire in that hearth to get a really cozy, Christmassy atmosphere going.

Turkey 'stag' - brother to the one who went
just over 9 kg oven-ready. A whopper.
I mentioned that Danielle is on a mission to move from the kind of veggie who refuses to eat in any restaurant which had venison, rabbit or game on the menu (Don't try to understand, she says, I was young and foolish), to a relaxed carnivore who is happy to eat any meat grown "as well as we do it". At the last visit she was happily posting to Facebook, montages of pics of her cuddling piglets, feeding the full grown pigs and then enjoying the roast pork.

9+ kg oven-ready turkey.
This time she'd expressed an interest in 'helping' to slaughter something, maybe a goose. She wanted to be there and see it done, she said, though she might not actually want to do it herself. Well, it so happened that we had a couple of male ('stag' or 'tom') turkeys who needed finishing for Christmas, one for the Silverwoods, where Liz would be heading once she'd dropped the Dans back to the airport.

A fridge full of turkey.
I agreed, then, to let her watch. I was curious to see if she'd 'cope'; I suspected she could. She is that kind of tough underneath. I talked her through what I was planning and what she'd probably see and also what might go wrong and what we'd need to do about that. Then at 6 pm, when it was good and dark, we went out with head torches on to do the deed. Danielle was OK but maybe a bit shaken by the minutes of flapping and twitching it takes a bird to go still. She was happier when she could see the limp head hanging there, eyes closed and me able to poke the eyes with the billhook point to demonstrate the lack of 'blink' or reaction. Fair play to her. 

Dans and Dogs. 
This bird was bagged up the next day and taken by Liz down to Silverwoods for their Christmas, after dropping the Dans to the airport. I knew it was a heavy one - I'd carried it out to the killing place under my arm and then back, swinging from my hand by the feet - but I thought maybe 5-6 kg. Liz plucked and gutted it and then weighed it by hopping on/off the bathroom scales with/without it. Just over 9 kg was the amazing result. Easily the heaviest we'd done so far and quite an achievement for one of these old-breed, fully free range Bronze breed birds.

Fairy lights all up the fences and over the Tígín roof.
With the guests gone and Liz back down to Silverwood-land to mind Mum for some more days, I was home alone again. This time I had an even better supply of left overs in the fridge (venison, paté, rillette, soup, savoury flans, cake...). I also had two definite jobs. I had to string up the outdoor fairy lights and ice the cake. The lights are now in two strands by 25m so we can run them right down the drive and all over the roof of the Tígín but my it was cold messing about with cold, frosty fencing and cold ladders. It was pure pleasure to come indoors, warm the hands and start the icing.

This year's cake design might be seen as "a bit weird" by some critics (you know who you are!) but it made me smile and I thoroughly enjoyed trying to conceive of it and deliver it. I wanted to do it with one of our Oxford Sandy and Black (OSB) pigs which are, in icing terms, a nice bright combination of orange, black and pink. The only way I could come up with of getting OSB in there and having it a bit 'Christmas' was to borrow the OSB out of the singer's name Bing Crosby.

So there you have it. I am sure it will be every bit as delicious as the ones with Santas, polar bears and penguins on them.

And there, I think, I will leave you. Lovely having you, The Dans. Welcome back any time.

Friday 15 December 2017

A Sloppy Mess

Marzipanning the cake. 
After the excitement of our snow and the beautiful pictures that were possible, the thaw was always going to be a come down. The snow is all gone now and the melt water is sitting on the surface, waiting to drain away, turning our grass and any soft paths into a sloppy mess. The ducks don't help, of course, with their keenness to dibble about in any puddle with their bills, sifting for grubs and worms in the slop. Areas that should be green are brown. We need it all to drain, which does not usually take too long, and then for a short, sharp rain shower to wash the grass blades clean.

This loaf had me worried this morning, but seems to have come
 good. When I first went to knead it after the overnight "sponge"
stage, it seemed cold, dead and dense. It then rose sluggishly, but
I had no need to fret. Looks and feels OK now.
This may well be the shortest post ever as we are literally just getting ready for the start of Christmas visitors. Coming this weekend we have old Friends of the Blog, formerly "Dan and Dan". Dan and Dan(ielle) are now famously wed on a cruise ship off Italy earlier in the year, so maybe we should call them Mr and Mrs Dan. They arrive tomorrow for a quick break but we will get them involved in decorating the Christmas Tree and sharing in our glühwein, so it should start to feel like Christmas for all of us.

That half-deer still giving us some useful joints - this a half leg
of venison, up for roasting tomorrow for the guests. 
With Liz away and the snow coming and then thawing, the dogs, cats and I have inevitably walked a fair amount of wet into the house. We can train humans to wipe their feet on the rugs and to take off their boots at the door (well, most of the humans, anyway!), but cats come and go through the cat flap at will and the dogs are so pleased to be back indoors and have eyes only for their dog-treat ('sweeties' here), so if you can get them to put each paw down on the rug even once in passing, you are doing well. It's a never ending battle.

A new way with belly pork. Mini 'porchetta'
A quick sorry update on those duck eggs we have (had) in Sue's incubator. They were keeping us waiting - a week ago we could see little feet kicking about in the 'candling' light beam but then day 28 rolled round to 35, 36 and now 37. Sadly they have now failed to hatch and are dead in their shells. It happens. They would be VERY late season, laid in November, so probably the drake and ducks are not doing their 'mating season' with the required amount of spring in their step. Their various contributions were not in peak of health and these babies were never going to be. Thanks for trying, Sue. We will give it another go in Spring. We have another string to our bow, of course - there are 5 duck eggs under very late broody 'Connie', which come to Day 28 on Christmas Day. Perhaps a real bird might fare better than the incubator. Watch this space.

A 'Swiss roll' of belly meat with inter-leaved herbs, all rolled
up in the skin. 
Meanwhile, we have found a new use for those big squares of belly pork. Bacon rashers and fried strips of belly are all well and good, and Black Spring's Nan's recipe is Divine, but we saw on the Internet, some people making a mini 'porchetta'. Our go-to You-Tube butcher, the 'Scott Rea Project', shows how to take a foot-square chunk of the belly, lay it flat on the chopping board and slice through it horizontally so that you can open two 'pages' like a book.

Nom nommetty nom!
Don't cut all the way through - leave yourself a 'hinge' at one end. You now have a sheet of 'meat' 24" by 12". Smear all over this sheet a mix of as many herbs and flavours as you fancy - we used salt, garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, fennel seed and lemon zest. We strip all the stems out of the herbs and use just the softer leaves. Now roll the whole thing up leaving the skin outside and facing out, and do your best butchers' knots to make it keep shape. Score the skin all over to help the crackling. Sprinkle with salt or oil according to preference.

We served our porchetta with steamed kale (2 varieties), carrots
and white rice. 
Pre-heat oven to 230ºC (very hot!). Put the roll on a rack sitting out of the roasting dish. Have a mug's worth of water in the dish to stop the worst smoking and spitting. Cook for 20 minutes on hot, then turn oven down to 150ºC and cook for another 3 hours or so. Take joint from oven, cover with foil and a tea towel and rest for a good 20 mins to relax, while you do the veg. Ours was lovely and...oh!... the crackling. Thank you Scott Rea and the rest of the Internet pork-chefs. Good eating.