Oooh, crispy, delicious pork fat, how I love you.
We recently bought some pork that came freshly butchered, skin on. If there is an art to making the skin crispy and not super chewy while cooking a skin-on pork chop, I haven’t mastered it yet. So, what’s a girl to do when she finds herself with an excess of fatty bits of pork skin? Ask Dr. Google for some chicharrones how-to, of course!
I found a great post on chicharrones over at Serious Eats. Emboldened by my newfound knowledge, and drooling over the delicious crispy pieces that would soon be mine, I cut my fatty skin remnants into one-inch chunks and did the following:
Step 1: Overnight baking soda and salt coat
There is some science-y explanation, but basically, if you want to reduce the leathery skin and create crisper (aka more delicious) chicharrones, rub some baking soda and a little salt on it. Let it sit overnight in the fridge uncovered.
When you are ready to use them, rinse them off and put them in a pot.
Step 2: Low and slow
Serious Eats advises to cover the rinsed pork with a little water and let it sit on low for a few hours. In theory, this should create a porky broth that eventually transitions into pure rendered lard. After 4 hours, I ended up with pork broth straight to still-fatty pork pieces with no water. Why? I think I started too low and then, when bedtime was approaching, tried to rush the process and ended up boiling all my liquid out before the fat had rendered.
To save them, I reduced the heat back to low (~2-3 on my dinky electric stove) and let the pork sit on its own and gradually leak out its fat. At 10 pm, my fat was still rendering, so I stopped the process midway and put the pan in the fridge. I pulled it out the next morning, put it back on low, and let the fat continue to render. (Lesson: this process was very forgiving).
Once your pan is nice and full of fat…
Step 3: Turn up the heat
Turn up the heat until the pieces are frying; stir occasionally to prevent them from sticking. I sprinkled a little salt in at this point for flavor. When they look nicely browned and crispy, take them out, let them cool, and see how long they last.
Chicharrones: an excellent pre-breakfast snack!