Tired of popcorn, looking for a new snack for movie night? I was, so decided to try something different and make crispy pork scratchings (or chicharron). Served with apple sauce or sprinkled with paprika, they are delicious and tasty.
And watching them cook in a deep fat fryer is up there with the top weird and funky cooking experiences I have had.
Chicharron – Crispy Pork Scratchings
Ask your local butcher for some pork belly skin. They sometimes have some left over after making bacon and are happy to give the discarded skin away … especially if you make some Chicharron for them in return.
- Large stock pot
- Long sharp knife
- Chopping board
- Deep-fat fryer (or large pan)
- Kitchen towel
- Dehydrator (optional)
There are several deep fat fryers available from Amazon and other retailers.
- 1kg pork belly skin
- 1 onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp salt
- Sunflower oil for frying
Preparing the Pork Belly
- Trim as much fat as possible from the pork skin. This can be done by laying out the pork skin on a chopping board and trimming the fat with a sharp knife.
- Peel and quarter the onion. Peel the garlic cloves.
- Add the onion, garlic and pork belly pieces to a large stock pan.
- Add water into the stock pan so the skin is covered, then add the salt and stir in.
- Bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 2 hours. Periodically remove scum that will form on the water surface.
- Drain the pork skin, discard the onion and garlic.
- The remaining fat will be soft, slice it off to leave just the pork skin (see picture below).
- Cut the pork skin into strips of around 3 cm x 1 cm.
Dehydrating the Pork Skin Strips
Dehydrate the pork skin strips. I use a dehydrator for this, 60°C for 24 hours. There are other methods which I have not tried.
- Placing in the fridge for a few days
- Baking in an oven at a low temperature
- Leaving out to dry in a hot afternoon sun … wouldn’t recommend this on the grounds of food hygiene.
The purpose of this step is to remove all moisture without cooking. The strips at the end should feel like plastic, with no moisture or fat left on them. If they are rigid but have a little fat juices, this can be wiped off with a kitchen towel.
Making the Chicharron
- Heat up some sunflower oil to 190°C in a deep-fat fryer (or large pan).
- When the oil is to temperature, add in a few strips of dried pork skin. Watch them expand rapidly into Chicharron.
- Remove from the fryer and dry on some kitchen towel.
- Serve with apple sauce or paprika.
Hints, Tips and Pictures
- The pork skin may have a bit of hair left on it. Unless it is really thick black hair, it will burn off during frying.
- Trim the fat by using a sawing motion with a large, sharp knife.
- The dehydrated pork skin strips can be stored in a fridge for a few days to make snacks during the week.