I made that!

Fried! Pig! Skin!

Posted in All Things Pork, Don't BUY it, MAKE it!, I Like Salt Too, Southernness by brandi on February 8, 2010

Dear Pork,

You did it again. You made me fall in love with you all over. It started months ago, you see. Living in San Francisco. There was this guy, Ryan Farr his name was. He was making magic with pork skin, and his chicharrones were showing up all over town. I was deeply jealous. I hated him for knowing you in a way that I didn’t. I mean, I grew up in ALABAMA – I should be frying pig skin in my SLEEP! Why wasn’t I grandfathered in on the secret? And rumor had it that this Mr. Farr was taking his technique with him to his grave. So I was on my own to find my way into your heart/skin. All hope was seemingly lost, months of searching were fruitless. But then it happened. I read somewhere that the new Momofuku cookbook was spilling the beans. Step by step directions for perfect chicharrones. I ordered some fatback from my new favorite butcher shop and left the house 5 minutes later to buy a copy. There was no stopping me now.

When my fatty skin came, I was enthralled. You looked so innocent, like a topographical map of a Washington state. I could have stared at you all day, folding you into different shapes.

But we were at the beginning of a long journey together, so I needed to get to work. First I separated your skin from your fat.

I put your skin in a pot of water and boiled you for 1 1/2 hours, long enough to soften up the fat left clinging to you.

The rest of your fat I cubed up and put in another pot, with a bit of water. Because when you have that much fat sitting on your kitchen counter, you might as well render some lard.

After your skin was done boiling, I stretched you out and placed you in the fridge. There you chilled for another 2 hours. Then I set about the arduous task of scraping off every last bit of fat. The book recommended the side of a spoon, but I had to use a knife. Because this was OUR moment and I wanted you to be perfect. Then I popped you in the dehydrator and let you do your thing overnight.

In the meantime, I still had some fat melting away on the stove. It took 8 hours, but eventually you released all your juiciness.

I strained you, smashing to get every last drop of liquid fat.

And was very pleased with your color, almost perfectly clear.

When you cooled, you were beautiful. Snowy. Pure.

I slept well, knowing that when I awoke the next morning, you would be ready for me. And you were. 12 hours in the dehydrator had left you thin and leathery. I broke you into tiny pieces.

I heated your lard to 390 degrees and tossed in your skin, one piece at a time.

It was magnificent to see you puff up to 5 times your size. I like to think that was you swelling with love.

I tossed you in a spice mix I had prepared earlier. And you were glorious. Light, fluffy, melt in my mouth glorious. You were a lot of work, but Pork skin, you were worth it. Thank you.

Spice Mix recipe:

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp white pepper

1 TBSP salt

1 TBSP sugar

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20 Responses

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  1. Daddy said, on February 8, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    I might try this myself it looks tasty.

    • brandi said, on February 8, 2010 at 3:21 pm

      They’re a ton of work, but worth it!

  2. Amber said, on February 8, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    A love letter to pork… a girl after my own heart!

  3. Abbe said, on February 8, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Now I really miss you!!!! I made some fabulous vietnamese pork belly ribs you would have liked but chicharrones are my favorite. Those rendered fat bits looked pretty good also!

  4. amoreta said, on February 9, 2010 at 8:51 am

    WOW! This looks great! I have to try it once!

  5. DocChuck said, on February 9, 2010 at 10:17 am

    GREAT JOB! As a native Texan, I’ve been eating and loving these for the better part of 67 years — LOL!

    But, I never had the nerve to try making them myself.

    Kudos to you!

  6. Xtine said, on February 9, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    That looks so good!!!

    That rendered pork fat could be sinfully delicious, too…wiith minced garlic, a touch of sea salt and pepper–man, oh, man!

  7. Jules said, on February 9, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    Absolutely brilliant! I love this tale of pork skin love. I can’t wait to make these soon too (cooking my way through the Momofuku cookbook).

  8. Mammamsterdam said, on February 20, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Funny thing is that I never before heard of it, except that past week I was travelling with a client looking for pigs to import (I am an interpreter) from Holland, I was the whole time in pi-land and the first restaurant we ate in, a posh place with tiny, wonderful, tapas-like dishes, had exaclty this to top a wonderful porc-stew.

    So I managed to recognize it thanks to your recipe (i might have mistaken it for shrimp-crackers otherwise).

  9. jenny said, on March 23, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    This was the creepiest/most entertaining blog post I have read in awhile! :) Good work!

  10. Janae said, on November 2, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    wow, that was both fascinating and disgusting. thanks for sharing, I would have never known it was possible to do that in a home kitchen!

  11. will said, on February 19, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    I discovered this for myself. It took weeks of trial and error. you do not need a dehidrater. put the cooked skins on a rack and refridgerate uncovered for a week. they will dry nicely.

  12. carroll allen said, on June 28, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Just 2 words (hell yea) I’m going 2 try n make thoes asafp that’s sinfull

  13. Denweaver said, on January 13, 2013 at 5:22 am

    Love it. Thanks for your love of pork. I am starting mine today

  14. Martin James said, on February 17, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    I too got obsessed when I tried this product, I have followed your recipe to a tee and they are great, however, there is somethig we are NOT getting, in an interview Ferr says one of the secrets is Rice bran oil, I do not believe this, I have invested in 2 Gallons of it and the result is the same as less expensive canola oil which also has a high smoke point [over 400 degrees]. please email me if you have any ideas or know the secret, i have done a taste test and Ferr’s are lighter and have a slightly sticky texture, they only seem to have a 4 day life before losing their crispiness………………..please send me your advice ….thx martinjames822@ymail.com

  15. J said, on March 3, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    Love the love letter to skin. I just finished making your recipe, and it is scrumptious! Thank you.

  16. Doloreswilson said, on April 30, 2013 at 8:34 am

    I boil the pig sin for quite a while to be sure. I lean and fat is. Cooked off,then I put in mt sons ghetto sauce. It is very tasty. Dede

  17. Doloreswilson said, on April 30, 2013 at 8:37 am

    Is there anywhere I can purchase pig skin?

    • J said, on June 3, 2013 at 6:58 pm

      Any butcher can order some for you.

  18. PapaKen said, on November 2, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    Add one T baking soda to the boiling water to help break down the proteins in the skin for a more tender pig chip


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