YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE CRUNCH

Sorry, I’m getting over excited about Mighty Boosh references. On with the proper writing stuff…

I grew up in the Black Country so the fact that not a single pork scratching passed my lips until the Great British Beer Festival last year is frankly an abomination. I remember being sat in the Wombourne Cricket Club whilst my Granddad sang the praises of pork crunch. I tried one and thought it tasted like sweaty polystyrene.

Then last year I was wobbling around Olympia and I found myself with a bag of fresh scratchings, still warm, in my mits. I had an epiphany. Black Country girl, born and bred and only at age 23 did I truly discover my heritage. Pork scratchings now had a small place in my heart and a bigger place in my stomach. Now I peer at the labels, grumbling when I don’t see a Wolverhampton or Staffordshire address. Not that the North don’t know what they’re doing with pig fat, of course.

Lancashire company, Openshaw’s are looking to update the world of “old fashioned” pork scratchings although personally I see nothing wrong with old fashioned snack food – Pickled egg, anyone?. Rather than oddly fancy and modern packaging (mentioning no names, *hem*) Openshaw’s has put a twist on the product, using the flavour of various other piggy favourites. The new “Gastro Pub” range includes Black Pudding flavour scratchings, BBQ Pulled Pork crackling and Cumberland Sausage (!) pork crunch.

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“This trinity of taste is up there with some of the best products we have ever produced”, says David Openshaw, managing director. ”We are a family company and everyone has been involved in the developing these unique flavours.

“We think they will all be extremely popular from the outset. Retro tastes are now hugely popular again and innovations such as our twice cooked Pork Crackling and light and airy Pork Crunch have very much stimulated the public interest and we believe are a class apart from the rest.”

Black Pudding flavour Pork Scratchings

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These had to be the first of the bunch to sample. I grew up with massive slices of black pudding with my breakfast and can’t get enough of the stuff. That might be why I wasn’t so impressed with these. The scratchings themselves are great. Painfully crunchy and squidgy in the right places. The flavour however, took me a moment to notice through the powdery texture of the seasoning. The distinctive black pudding metallic and smokey flavour is there, and doesn’t taste too artificial but it has none of the richness.

BBQ Pulled Pork flavour Pork Crackling

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Don’t ask me the difference between crackling and scratchings because I’ve no clue. Crackling is less likely to give you a hefty dentist’s bill? Either way, the pork goodness underneath the flavouring on these is just as good as the scratchings. Not amazing, but Openshaw’s definitely make some of the best pork snacks widely available. The flavouring on these is definitely of the powdery, crisps kind but they do really taste of pulled pork. Sweet BBQ sauce shines through and goes really well with the crunch. The flavour in this is quite overpowering so definitely one to eat with a pint of something clean, refreshing and hoppy. It’s going very well with my pint of Oakham Inferno.

Cumberland Sausage flavour Pork Crunch

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Definitely the weirdest of the three. Sausage flavoured pork? Rather odd, I must say. However these are certainly my favourite even though normally I’m not that keen on Pork Crunch and it’s fluffiness. The crunch consists of massive chunks of fluffy pork rind which goes from crunchy to melting-in-the-mouth instantly. The peppery herby flavour is a perfect mimic of Cumberland sausages and you even get a juicy sausage sensation* when the fluff melts on your tongue.

Verdict? Cumberland Sausage Pork Crunch might be my new favourite pub snack and I need to pop to the market to get some black pudding for tomorrow’s breakfast.

*Juicy Sausage Sensation is the name of my new band.

A/N: Openshaw’s sent me a load of these to try and review and honestly, I’m never gonna turn down free pork.

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