What do you do when you have left over pork belly trimmings? Turn them into crackling, pork rinds, chicharrón…well you get my drift. There are many different names for this little porky treat but whatever you call them, they’re delicious and easy to make. You didn’t think I’d go six weeks without a meat post did you?
I didn’t intend on picking up 15 lbs of pork belly this week. However, I saw some really meaty slabs at the pork store I go to, so I loaded up. One went into the freezer for bacon and the other was turned into a pork belly porchetta. Yes, that’s how we sometimes roll for weeknight dinner.
In order to make the belly roll up into an even shape I trimmed the edges and ended up with maybe a half pound of strips with the skin on. Not a lot but just enough to make crispy pork cracklings like I do with duck skin.
It is such an easy, hands-off technique too. Simmer the pork bits in water which starts to render out some fat. This kind of time-release enables enough fat to be in the pan when all of the water has evaporated. It’s really brilliant. You end up kind of confit’ing the meat part of the belly in all the fat and then when the pork starts to brown simply turn up the heat and fry to a crisp.
In hindsight I wish I had cut some thicker strips from the pork belly and with more of the skin on. The thinner strips worked fine and since I cut them up into smaller chunks, cooked quicker (about 2 hours). But I would have liked more of a chicharrón than crackling. Minor quibble. Didn’t seem to stop Cheryl and me from enjoying them with beer while telling each other about our days that evening.
One note, if you do use thicker pieces, rub some baking soda onto the skin and let the belly pieces sit in the fridge overnight. It’s supposed to help take some of the moisture out of the skin and make it crispier. I couldn’t really tell with these pieces since there wasn’t much skin.
Pork Cracklings or Chicharrónes
- Pork belly with skin
- Baking soda
Rub baking soda onto the skin side of the pork belly. This I supposed to help dry out the skin and enable it to crisp up. Refrigerate overnight.
Cut the belly into strips or chunks.
Place in a large heavy bottomed pan that will hold all of the pieces in one layer. Pour in enough water so all of the pieces are covered by at least a half inch.
Over medium-high heat on the stove bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. As the water evaporated the fat will render and take the place of the water.
Stir the pork pieces around every so often once they begin to cook in the released fat to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
When pork is has browned and crisped up remove and set on paper towels to drain. Season with salt (or your favorite seasoning).