Mexican cuisine is not only vast and exquisite, but also full of untold stories about the humble origins of some of our most typical (and perhaps “unknown”) meals: Chicharrones.
Although it may be difficult to pronounce, they are easy to cook and I am sure many of you will be delighted to taste them. Chicharrones have a unique flavor, unlike any other meat. The first notion that we have about Chicharrones is that they came to America from Spain centuries ago, along with Chorizo. They are deeply rooted in our history and cooking traditions.
This recipe shows the procedure I use to make chicharrones at home. The times and quantities will depend in the type of pot you use to cook and if you are cooking a large amount of meat and skin it will take longer. I highly recommend you use a cast iron pot. It is better for frying, browning and it allows the food to cook evenly.
One of the main ingredients, besides the pork, is patience. Yes, it takes a good amount of time to cook chicharrones. If you are a Mexican you will remember how the butcher will start very early in the morning to prepare and cook the meats, and the carnitas will be ready around noon. Then the chicharrones will take a little longer. It is not a common practice in Mexico to cook your own chicharrones, you just go to the butcher shop and buy them, some will usually cook them only on weekends. But if you want to make them at home the waiting will be more than worth its time for the aroma and flavor alone. Not to mention that you won’t be able to stop eating them right after they come out of the pot. So have a good Mexican salsa (the hotter the better) and some warm corn tortillas ready.
4 Lbs Pork fat and skin ( I usually buy butt roast or pork shoulder, trim the skin off with some of the fat and meat and freeze it until I have enough to cook. I leave the fat to render some lard for later uses. Cut the skin in squares about 3-4 inches, the skin will shrink while cooking. Other option is to use Pork belly (Usually sold at Asian markets) In case you want more chicharrones.
1 Lb. Lard
Salt to taste
Some people will remove all the excess fat and meat and leave only the skin to have the fluffy, light chicharrones. But I like to make them like these sold in a local butcher shop in my hometown. With some fat and meat on them.
Melt the lard and heat until it is very hot. Carefully place the pieces of skin into the pot. Be very careful because the fat will splatter during the process. Stir frequently to avoid the skins from sticking to the bottom of the pot. After one hour the skin will be soft like in this picture; these are called “cueritos” in Mexico. Add the salt to season at this time.
Keep cooking and stirring frequently for about another hour or more until they become golden brown, taking care not to over cook them. Over cooked chicharrones will be rubbery and hard to eat. Usually when the lard starts bubbling the skin will pop. That will tell you that your chicharrones are almost ready. Check them out by taking one out and let it cool a little to see if it is in the desire consistency, meaning crunchy, crispy but not hard.
Once they are ready, remove from the pot and drain in paper towels let them cool slightly before you eat them . Now pass the salsa and the warm tortillas for your tacos.
Drain and save the lard in an air tight container for future cooking uses.
Linking this post to “Simple lives Thursday”.