Chicharrones are pieces of pork that are fried in their own fat. They are different from pork rinds as they have more than just skin. My Cuban and Nicaraguan friends at the center have given me the other side of the story. Many foods we eat started out in one form, from core ingredients, and our now presented to us as mass produced, chemical infused, completely different versions of the original.
These Chicharrones are larger pieces that include pork meat, fat, and skin, and then cooked in the fat in produces as the process begins. They are without a doubt, a wonderful ethnic treat that has surprised every guest that has eaten them in my kitchen.
Chicharrones (Photos by Jon Feldman)
- 2 lb piece of pork (with skin, fat and meat)
- Sea Salt
Total Time: 30 minutes
The hardest part about this recipe is finding the right piece of meat to start out with. You will generally need to find a place that cuts there own meat in house, and has some freedom to meet the customers needs. This is a piece of Pork from the belly of the pig, and includes the skin, some fat, and as you can see, some of the meat.
Some recipes suggest letting the meat sit in the fridge overnight and uncovered to dry out a bit. I have done this, and it helped crisp up the pork, but I would say it isn't always necessary.
Start by placing your pork skin side down on a cutting board. Score the meat about 1/3 of the way through on a diagonal. Score again at a 90 degree angle to the first scoring.
Next cut the neat into cubes. Place the chunks into a cast iron skillet on medium heat. It is OK to crowd the skillet as the pork will reduce quite a bit, just be sure there is only one layer.
Turn the pieces frequently and be careful of the spattering fat. The pieces will "crackle" and can make a bit of mess if too hot. You will find that the pan will develop a pool of pork fat and that the pieces will continue to cook in the fat. You can reserve this fat (and you should) to use for other dishes.
Let the chicharrones get nice and crisp on the outside without browning too much. When they are done, place on a paper towel do drain some of the fat and sprinkle immediately with sea salt. Serve while hot.