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Pork Cracklins/rinds /chicharrones


A Patric
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Hi All,

I have some pig skin that I want to turn into crispy and light pork cracklin's like you can find at a Mexican market. I've tried just frying in oil, which doesn't work. After that, I tried to find info in a variety of cookbooks, and then online, but to no avail.

The one bit of info that I _think_ that I've gleaned is that the skins need to be cooked first to weaken the collagen, and then they can be towel-dried, spiced, and fried.

Does anyone know if I'm on the right track, and if so, is there a tried and true way of precooking the skin--steaming, boiling, baking??

Also, if I'm way off here, please don't hesitate to let me know.

I'm hoping that there is a pork cracklin' expert out there somewhere who makes them all the time and can clarify.

Best,

Alan

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Cracklins are the perfect no-carb snack.

I don't know about your Mexican market, but scrunchions are a traditional home-cooked treat in eastern Canada. Fresh, frozen or salt pork is very slowly rendered in a pan on the stove until only the protein remains. Cut thin strips and take your time.

In springtime Quebec you can find them served at the sugar shack with maple syrup. They call them "the ears of Jesus" or "oreilles de crisse".

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Coincidentally, I embarked on a cracklin' project a few weeks back. The cajun version, gratons, uses raw pork skin with a little bit of meat attached. Slice the skin into 1.5 to 2 inch wide strips around 3-4 inches long. Get a pot large enough to accomodate your skin pieces, then fill it about 1/4 full of water. Put the strips into the pot with the water, and heat over a low-low flame until the water begins to boil. Stir frequently--eventually the water will boil off & the fat will begin to render. Keep cooking over low, stirring often, until virtually all of the fat has rendered, but the strips are only the lightest golden brown.

At this point, remove the strips from the (considerable) liquid lard. Spread out on brown paper or something absorbent & disposable. Allow to cool completely, then return your pot of lard to heating, this time over medium/high. When it hits 375, carefully return the strips to the pot--don't crowd the pot--and the cracklins will "pop" or puff up a bit. A gentle golden brown is your desired shade...if you cook too long, they'll be edible, but tough.

I was attempting to cook 30 pounds at once in a 5-gallon cast iron pot. I learned that you MUST stir frequently; you need an incredibly sharp knife to cut the pork skin/fat, and it is arm-straining work to stir such a big pot of pork skins. It will be years before I can enter the local cracklin' cookoff with any hopes of a prize....

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Well,

I followed your directions, and what I ended up with was delicious--really delicious actually--but not exactly the Mexican-style crispy, crunchy light fried cracklins.

Next time I do "your" version, I think that I'll cut the strips from belly to hang onto some additional fat and some meat. Then, I'll confit the strips and afterwards crisp them up on high heat. That will be a lot more like the Jim Drohman recipe in Ruhlman's book.

Still, I'd like to figure out how to make the crispy cracklins. I noticed that there is an oven version in the book called "Fat" that apparently is a twist on what Heston Blumenthal does at the Fat Duck.

The photo has me almost convinced that they have the right texture.

Has anyone tried this recipe?

Best,

Alan

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Cracklins are the perfect no-carb snack.

I don't know about your Mexican market, but scrunchions are a traditional home-cooked treat in eastern Canada. Fresh, frozen or salt pork is very slowly rendered in a pan on the stove until only the protein remains. Cut thin strips and take your time.

In springtime Quebec you can find them served at the sugar shack with maple syrup. They call them "the ears of Jesus" or "oreilles de crisse".

What we call oreilles de criss is quite light and crispy but it does not taste exactly like chicharrones which tastes much lighter probably because of a slightly different cooking method.

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Hrm.. have you tried rubbing the pork skin/fat with baking soda? That's what they do in chinese pork belly. I think you rub the baking soda on and then let the pork dry in the fridge overnight. There's a good thread about it on the chinese forum. It might work for the chicarrones. I love those too so I"m interested in hearing what you come up with. Oh and the thing to help cut the pork fat/skin is to freeze it. I cuts easier when it's a bit frozen. You will still need a sharp knife though.

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