Buying whole hogs, the one thing I had trouble using up was the skin. Then finally someone explained chicharrónes to me.
I have always associated chicharrónes with Mexico, but apparently they are common throughout the Spanish-speaking world, and happen to be wildly popular in the Philippines. Even though it is usually a very casual snack, served at bars or sold at gas stations, making chicharrón has become an essential technique for me, even in a fine-dining restaurant. I often have pork skin on hand, and while I’ve discussed some of the ways to use it, nothing is as satisfying and delicious a transformation as chicharrón.
They are surprisingly versatile. In the photo above they act as a canapé base, topped … Continue reading.
Crackling is pig skin, cooked so that it’s crisp. Since skin contains, and is often adjacent to, a good deal of fat, it benefits from a long, slow, rendering process, followed by a quick, high-heat crisping process.
You can form perfectly good crackling while cooking a skin-on pork roast, so long as the meat beneath the skin is a cut that also benefits from a long, slow cook. Pork head, shoulder, and hock come to mind. After the slow cook, raise the oven temperature to 425°F and bake until the skin becomes brittle, almost glass-like.
You can also cut the skin from the meat, then render and crisp it on its own. This yields a product more like commercial pork … Continue reading.
When butchers break down a side of pork, they are after the several lean cuts of meat, the bones that can be used in stock or sold as dog treats, and the large pile of trim that can be ground into sausage meat. The only parts that typically go to waste are the head, the glands (particularly prevalent in the jowls, but also in the hind legs), and the skin.
Progressive (or retrogressive?) eaters don’t have a problem with pig head, and the glands represent a very small amount of waste, maybe 100 g on a side of pork. That leaves the skin. While it can be put into a broth or cassoulet, there happens to be a much … Continue reading.