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Making pork cracklings?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Ok I have these strips of pork skin, fat attached, about 1/2" wide, taken from pork belly I used earlier in the week. I've kept it in the fridge uncovered overnight to dry it a bit. 


I want to make cracklings, but the only ones I've ever made were from chicken skin: put in a pot of water and simmer until there's no more water, then let cook slowly in their own fat until GBD. 


But for pork skin - what's the technique? Thanks!!

post #2 of 15

I've never done this myself, but I seem to recall my stepmother taking the rind from slab bacon and putting it in the oven for a LONG time.  There was a modest amount of smoke involved, so it may not have been at too low a temp.  Sorry, I was maybe 12 years old at the time - I happily ate the results but didn't take notes.


Having made beans with ham hocks, though, I could see where one might want to gently simmer the skin for a while before trying to crisp it up - break it down a bit, but the fat is essential to the final product.



Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
post #3 of 15

Cut the fat and skin in pieces. 


Render the fat in a pot over a medium-low flame. 


When the fat is rendered and the pieces with a lot of skin start to float to the top, skim off the pieces with a spider and set them aside.  If some of the skin is still has fat attached (some will) don't worry about it.


The process will probably take a long time, but just stick with it until all the skin's been removed and there's nothing but fat in the pan When no more pieces float to the top, allow the rendered lard to cool, then strain it so that it's completely clean without any brown bits.  You can use either a fine sieve or a colander lined with a couple layers of cheesecloth.  The colander will do a better job, but if all you're going to do with the lard is make cracklings it's not that important.  


Return (some or all of) the lard to the kettle, and heat to frying temp -- 350 - 375F is good.


Drop a few pieces of skin into the lard (don't overcrowd).  In about 30 seconds, the skin will fluff up and expand to about three times it's size.  Use a spider to remove the skin onto a towel lined dish, season immediately.  Continue frying in small batches until it's entirely done.


The oven method is good for getting crisp skin on a pork belly, and would be my first choice for that cut.  But it's not nearly as good for what you have.  You can make it work if you want, by cutting the skin and fat into lardons, seasoning them, putting them  them on a sheet, placing in a hot (as hot as your oven will go), preheated oven for about 20 minutes, then reducing the oven to around 375 and just letting them cook until the skin turns GBD, probably another 30 - 60 minutes -- with the time depending on a lot of things.  This method will leave a fair amount of fat with the skin; and -- as already said -- is better for pork belly.  



post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 

Awesome. Thank you so much for the detailed instructions. I'll probably try the first method first. smile.gif

post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 

Ok just did it, but pretty quickly the pieces turned golden brown, so at that point I simply turned up the heat a bit, the pieces puffed up a bit. Now for the taste test.... will let you know! ;)

post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 

Ok... some are good, some aren't. A bit of a burnt taste even though they're just golden, but I think maybe too golden. I don't actually have much experience EATING cracklings, so I'm kinda shooting in the dark here. 


The reason I didn't follow your instructions exactly BDL was because even on the lowest setting on my gas range the cracklings turned golden brown pretty quickly. I had a tiny 8" stainless steel pan and barely enough skin/fat to cover the pan in one layer. Maybe that was the issue. 


Still worth it for the 1/2 of the cracklings that tasted good, and ... I'll try again!!

post #7 of 15

Probably just not enough anything -- and especially fat -- for that method.  Next time you might try priming the process with some lard.  Farmer John lard and the "homemade" stuff you find in most SoCal carnecerias is excellent stuff.  Just one more way in which we're spoiled.



post #8 of 15
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Probably just not enough anything -- and especially fat -- for that method.



I'd absolutely agree. 


Also, with the method that was used, it's a little tricky to recognize the shades of color and amount of how done they are through the process.  Even if you have constant low heat, they will hit a point where one second they are perfect and the next moment is too late.  Even though they'll look brown (it's certainly shades of brown we're talking about) they'll taste burnt. I've had this happen with chicken skin cracklings.  It's not as precise of a method I think to the one BDL maps out in that you don't have that quick fry at the end but rather a long rendering/browning process why is a different dynamic.   

post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 

That's exactly what happened, Zoe. Next time I'll follow BDL's advice to start with a little lard.


Thanks for all the great advice BDL and I will do this again soon. 

post #10 of 15

You can bake them and enjoy them fat-less.






post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks dcarch, what's the technique? Bake on a cookie sheet... what temp, how long? Or do you just look at them and take them out of the oven once they have the desired color? Funny how they curl up like that, it's kind of an interesting presentation. Almost like mini-funnel-cakes! biggrin.gif No - I know, they remind me of zlabias (no typo there): 



post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 

I'd still love to hear the technique dcarch if you read this. I just tried to make them again today and couldn't get them just right, they're ok but a bit chewy, I cannot get them to expand to 3 times their size, they just expand a little bit. 

post #13 of 15

1. Cook them well first.


2. Dry them 100 % (I use my dehydrator) to rock-hard.


3. Pre set oven to 400F and bake. Keep an eye on them. They puff up quick.


Hope this helps.



post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 

Great, thanks dcarch, that helps a lot. Hope you don't mind me asking, in #1 "cook them well first"... how do you cook them and how do you know when they're well cooked? 

post #15 of 15

FF google "pork scratchings" 

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