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