February 15, 2016 — Chinese
‘Now, if you like pork scratchings, you’ll like these far more – light and crispy snacks. They’re perfect for dipping in guacamole too! Be patient thought, certainly not for the impatient.’
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3 pieces of pork rind about 24cm x 12cm each.
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Mexican chicharrones are air-dried and deep-fried pieces of pork skin – pork scratchings to you and me. Made well they are light and crunchy and quite delicious. In Mexico they are a hugely popular street food nibble and sold in tall stacks in markets. As well as snack to eat any time of the day–especially with a cold beer– they are often included in Mexican meals, such as avocado salads, bean dishes and sauces. Some recipes call for grinding the chicharrones which can then be added to corn meal canapés, or sprinkled on top of soups and guacamole.
If the thought of consuming large quantities of pork scratchings makes you a little queasy, it is possible to think that chicharrones are actually a sustainable outcome of livestock rearing. This is especially true of small Mexican villages, where the slaughtering of pigs is an eagerly anticipated community event. Many travellers tell of the excitement and chaos of these events but always recall how the animal is revered and celebrated. The village butchers process every part of the pig, ensuring nothing goes to waste – including the the skin, of course.
My version of Mexican Chicharrones are a blend of two different techniques: Chinese and Mexican. I reckon that the Chinese know a thing or two about pork skin: for crispy pork belly they first blanch the rind in boiling water and then air dry it before cooking. A Mexican butcher airs the rind and then cooks twice in hot lard.
Go to your butchers and ask for some pork rind. When buying rind from the back of the animal there is little fat. When cut from the shoulder there is more and when obtained from the belly there will be a considerable layer of fat. The layer of soft fat will vary and may have meat attached. This can be left on or cut back – depending on your preference.
To make Dad’s Mexican Chicharrones:
Boil the rind: Place in well salted water and simmer for 5 minutes.
Dry the rind: Put the rind skin side up on a wire rack on an oven tray in the bottom of an oven at the lowest setting and let it dry for 4-6 hours or more (make sure this is drying not cooking). Put the rind skin side down on a chopping board. Cut a criss-cross pattern into the soft fat right down to the skin. Next cut the fat into small strips. Using a stout sharp cook’s knife cut through the rind to make strips about 2cm wide. Then cut across strips to make lengths of about 5cm – 6cm.
1st stage deep frying: Put the lard in a large deep pan and add vegetable oil to fill the pan half way. Heat the oil to 100C and cook the rinds for 2 hours, ensuring the temperature does not rise. Take out the rinds (turn off the heat) drain and cool.
2nd stage deep frying: Cook rinds a few at a time in the oil and lard brought up to a temperature of 185C – 190C. (A thermometer is essential here). Do not heat above 190C as you will be deteriorating the oil as it nears its smoke point. Mexicans use lard which has a smoke point of around 192C, so in theory more heat is not necessary.
Using my method, all my Mexican chicharrones were perfectly light and crisp. A huge success. They will keep for up to a couple of weeks in an airtight-container.
Also, check out Dad’s Guacamole the Mexican Way recipe.
A perfect winter warmer – Cassoulet!
Try Dad’s loaded low-fat salsa quesadillas with The Laughing Cow Lightest x8 cheese.
An excellent way to turn a popular Italian slow food standard into an easy and quicker family classic.
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