Chicharrón is a popular pork dish in Spain and throughout Latin America. Much like the pork skin recipe, the crunchy, crunchy chicharrón is a mouthwatering dish with lots of local variations. Whether it's cooked in the traditional style from pork skin (which can take all day), or cooked from fried pork belly (which will go faster), this delectable dish can be made with just a few simple ingredients. See Step 1 below to get started making the chicharrón!
Traditional Chicharrón with Pork Skin
- About 2/3 kg of pork skin, remove excess fat.
- Cooking oil or lard (for frying).
- Water (to boil)
- 2 tablespoons of vinegar for every 2/3 kg of lard (to taste).
- Cayenne pepper (for seasoning) (to taste).
- Black pepper (for seasoning) (to taste).
Chicharron Pork Belly
- About 2/3 kg of pork belly.
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup water
Method 1 of 2: Cooking Traditional Chicharrón from Pork Skin
Step 1. Boil the pork skin
Put the pork skins in a large saucepan and cover them with water. Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot, and allow it to boil. Boil until the pork skin is soft (but not crushed), and the cooking water turns white - approx 1-2 hours.
To keep the pork skin submerged in the water, you may need to press it down with a heatproof plate while it simmers
Step 2. Remove the pork skin from the water
Use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove the pork skins from the boiling water, then place them on a cooling rack over the grill pan to catch the drippings. Discard the boiled water.
At this point, you need to season the chicharrón, pouring the vinegar evenly over the pork skin
Step 3. Cool the pork skin
Place the pork skins uncovered (still on the cooling rack) in the refrigerator. Allow the peel to cool completely - it usually takes a few hours.
Step 4. Remove the fat under the pork skin
Use a spoon or other peeling utensil to remove any fat hanging from the bottom of the pork skin. You should be able to separate this fat easily from the skin. Be careful not to tear the skin, as it will still be soft after cooking.
Step 5. Dry the pork skin
Next, the cooled and clean pork skin should be left to dry. You can dry pork skin in several ways which are mentioned below. Whichever drying method you choose, give it plenty of time - until the skin is ready, i.e. after it has shriveled up, is brown and brittle. This process usually takes more than eight hours, so you may need to dry it overnight. Some of the ways to dry pork skins are listed below:
- The easiest way to dry the skin is in the oven. Turn on the oven on the lowest temperature option. Try to turn it on at about 93o C. Place the pork skins on the drying rack and the baking sheet in the oven overnight.
- Traditionally, chicharrón is dried in the sun. If you live in a hot, dry area, try drying your chicharrón outdoors in a safe place in the sun throughout the day, and checking it out at specific times.
- You can also use other drying methods. If you have a heating lamp, or an electric dryer fan, you may want to try using these appliances.
Step 6. Fry the chicharron
Cut the dried pork skins into long strips or small squares about 2.2 cm (2.2 cm) on each side. Heat a deep frying pan over high heat. When the pan is hot, add the lard or cooking oil. Fry a chicharrón or two at a time, pressing until it puffs up and starts to float. When done, remove the chicharrón, and place it on a paper towel-lined plate.
Get ready to lift the chicharrón right away - this frying process usually only takes 10-20 seconds
Step 7. Alternatively, sprinkle pepper over the pork skin before frying
To make the chicharrón spicy, season each piece of chicharrón with black pepper or cayenne pepper before frying. You just need to sprinkle these seasonings on the chicharrón sheets at a time or individually with the amount of spices you like before adding them to the pan.
Other seasoning options include other chili powder, sugar, and Chinese seasonings. Try your own variety of spice mixes
Step 8. Serve
Safe! You've just made a delicious plate of chicharrón. Sprinkle with salt, and serve immediately. This dish goes well with beer or red wine.
Method 2 of 2: Cooking Chicharrón from Pork Belly
Step 1. Cut the pork belly into strips
This alternative recipe doesn't require the long boiling, cooling, and drying times of traditional chicharrón, so it can produce delicious results in less than 1 or 2 hours. To get started, use a sharp knife and/or kitchen shears to cut the pork belly into thin strips the size of a bacon sheet. If Ana uses the recommended amount of meat, which is 2/3 kg, you will make about 3 pieces of meat.
Note that this chicharrón recipe will look and taste different from the traditional recipe above, as it includes the fat and meat of the pork belly, not just the skin
Step 2. Slice each piece of meat deep
Make multiple, 2.5 - 4 cm deep slices on each sheet of pork belly from the "meat side" towards the "skin". These slices will ensure that all the pieces of the meat sheet are perfectly cooked during frying, but not charred.
Make sure the slices you make are deep enough, but not to injure the skin of the pork belly, or the sheet may tear during cooking
Step 3. Heat a deep frying pan
Place the skillet on the stove over medium heat. While you're waiting for the pan to heat up, rub a thin layer of baking soda over each sheet of meat. This will help the meat become crispy and crunchy as it cooks.
Step 4. Cook the pork belly with water in a frying pan
When the skillet is hot, slowly slide the baking soda-coated meat sheet over the edge of the pan, so that the center is empty. Pour 1/2 cup of water into that portion, and cover the pan to keep it moist. Allow to cook, turning and changing the sheet of meat every 15 minutes.
- Be careful when you open the lid to turn the meat over, as the hot fat/water mixture can splash all over you.
- Since this recipe uses pork and lard in addition to the skin, we don't need to use cooking oil, as the lard will come out naturally during cooking.
Step 5. Continue flipping and repositioning the meatloaf while the water evaporates
While the water has evaporated and is replaced by the liquid fat from the pork belly, open the lid and reduce the heat slightly. Allow the meat to cook evenly. Cook on low heat like this for about 1 hour so that all the fat layer comes out.
Step 6. Remove the meat from the skillet and increase the heat to the stove
When the meat is golden brown, and almost all of the fat is removed, remove the meat from the skillet. This dish is not completely ready to eat, so to get the maximum level of crispness your meat will need to be "fried" one more time. Once your meat is removed from the pan, turn up the heat to high and allow the melted fat inside to heat up.
Step 7. Fry the chicharrón quickly for a crispy exterior
When the fat in the pan is ready and hot, cook one or two pieces of chicharrón at a time until a crisp, crunchy outer layer forms - usually just a minute or two. Watch for "bubbles" on the skin's surface as a sign of doneness. Remove the chicharrón one at a time from the pan, and place on a paper towel-lined plate when finished cooking.
Step 8. Season, and serve
Safe! You've finished cooking a delicious pork belly chicharrón! Sprinkle with salt or other seasoning you like, then serve immediately.
- Not all chicharrons are soft.
- Do not overcook the chicharrón.