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The truth about pork rinds ... scratchings, chicharron, etc

What is your favorite way to eat pork skin?

Do you have a favorite brand of bagged pork rinds? This site reviews over 40 brands ... http://www.taquitos.net/snack_reviews...

This is an old 2001 Chowhound post about microwave pork rinds with the following tip about pork rinds in general ... "place a anchovy rolled around a caper inside the pork rind. "
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/287414

For your holiday eating pleasure this 1989 NYT article about pork rinds has a dip recipe using them ... Peruvian-Style Pork Rind Dip
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage...

Anyway, the reason for the title was that I was reading a site about pork rinds that claimed to have put a lot of false info into a Wikipedia article about pork rinds.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pork_rinds

So it got me to wondering about what the best pork rinds are and how different nationalities eat them.

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  1. So far my favorite way of eating pork rinds has been stewed chicharron. I like it both ''en salsa verde" or red. I think I prefer the red the most. I had it once in a ranchera sauce which was also good. I kind of like the fried-tofu esque puffiness of it which is a great foil for soaking up the sauce.

    My favorite Taqueria in Fallbrook, Ca puts it crumbled into the guacamole and it is outstanding.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kare_raisu

      Sounds like you need to try making my aguacate y queso fresco con chicharrones. Here's my old post,
      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/30572...

    2. In Ecuador, particularly in the south around Cuenca, a popular dish is 'papas y cuero', potatoes and skin.
      http://south-american-food.suite101.c...
      This version calls for cooking fresh skin, or softening fried rinds. Then they are cooked with onion and potatoes, with some peanut butter added for flavor. It can be served dry, or as a soup.

      Through out Latin America, parts of the pig with lots of skin are valued especially for soup - feet, ears, and tail. The large nearby Asian grocery leaves the skin on other parts such as fresh ham slices and belly.

      paulj

      1. Ok, first of all, it is beyond scary that you guys eat this PRE-FAB. I cannot believe you can actually buy bags of these!!! I guess they're like chips.. or crisp, yeah??

        **shudders**

        Secondly, IMHO, the only way to eat pork crackle (as we know it Down Under), is carved off, en bloc, from a freshly cooked leg of Roast Pork, and then crisped up under the griller.

        Apple sauce is NOT an option. Mustard is allowable.

        7 Replies
        1. re: purple goddess

          you can buy them pre-fab or make your own at home. which is great as long as you don't mind your entire kitchen being coated in a thin layer of grease. personally, my favourite way to have chicharrones is deep fried, then sprinkled with limejuice, chile and salt. are you the purplegoddess on b3ta?

          1. re: purple goddess

            If you ever get into a Mexican thing again ... and ever do find Mexican food in Australia ... there is a snack called duritos that look like fried pork skins but are made from wheat. Good and crunchy.
            http://www.chow.com/digest/595

            I'm not a fan of the bagged stuff mainly because my reaction to it is about the same as yours. I like my pork skins still attached to the animal part like pigs feet with saurkraut and cabbage. Did have a good feijoda recently that just used the skins ... cueve I belived it is called. It has the same texture as cooked pigs feet.

            I'm kind of getting into good, crunchy fried chicarrones, but never liked the soft version. Oddly that seems slimy to me and the texture is about the same as that on cooked pigs feet.

            1. re: rworange

              Pig's trotters stuffed with truffle-infused rice and spinach.

              slow cooked Asian pork belly.

              **nostalgic sigh**

              Unfortunately piggy skin has a nasty effect on me. As another poster recently said, It's got a digestive tract half-life of about 10 mins.

              1. re: rworange

                I'm with you: I'm not crazy about the soft cooked versions, although the picked versions can be okay. I like them crisp. I don't care for the American bagged versions or the Mexican bagged versions where they've been processed somehow and turned into shapes (wagon wheels, planks, etc.). However, I did pick up a bag of chiccharones at Grocery Outlet last month that were pretty good: they actually looked and tasted like the real thing.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  I don't think the shaped forms have any skin in them. They are a wheat product, which is sold in bulk, in an un-fried form in Hispanic groceries. But I haven't paid much attention to them.
                  paulj

                  1. re: paulj

                    Yeah, the bagged Mexican ones are not pork, but wheat and called duritos.
                    http://www.chow.com/digest/595

                    If you go into Mexican groceries you'll see them near the produce in bulk. They look like uncooked pasta. I've been wondering if you fried any pasta if it would puff up like that.

                    I forgot I'm ok with pickled pork rinds. I wouldn't go out of my way for them, but they are ok if I have a close encounter with them in a taco ... or cole slaw ... kind of chewy like calamari.

                    1. re: rworange

                      You can also microwave them for a few seconds and the puff up. Strange but somehow also good.

            2. In Playa del Carmen, at 30 ave and 30 st from Thursday to Saturday under the blue tarp, the tortas de lechon (suckling pig) with chicharron and habanero salsa, are world-class. Gone by 11:00 AM. 15 pesos.
              Repeats for emphasis: world class.

              1. I usually eat chicharon with a dip of vinegar, garlic, chili and soy sauce. I have also used it in Southeast Asian soups as the texture turns chewy and somewhat resembles the fish stomach that one occasionally finds in seafood broths in Asia.

                1. I can understand people's aversion to pork rinds in the bag (kinda like Oz crisps if you ask me), but they'll do in a pinch!
                  I like pork skin in all sorts of manner.
                  Was on a thread awhile back and learned about cotiche, a rolled up piece of braised, stuffed skin. I was enthralled and tried my own. Thread here:
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/564970
                  I also ate quite a bit of chicharon tacos which were quite tasty.

                  These versions are soft, and although tasty, I prefer skin with crunch.

                  A roast pork with a nice layer of fat and topped with skin, the craklin can be delicious.

                  A notch above, I really like fried rinds done in european style delis (moh will back me up on this, I'm sure). Not only skin, but a layer of fat and some clinging meat. Done fresh, its hard to beat.
                  Right up there and equally as good (solely depending on my mood which one will come out ahead) is Chinese roast pork belly (might be called siu yuk). Sublime.

                  Veggo, I've had tortas in PDC where they add a bit of crackling. Yes, utterly fantastic, and the chicharon adds quite a bit to the overall flavor. However...

                  A little further west, in the Yucatan, they make castacan. Basically an entire fried pork belly, then depending on vendor, sell it fresh and hot by weight. I've said it before and I'll say it again, to me, this is the KING of pork skin. They do it like no other and I'm salivating right now. I think I'll have to make a trip special!

                  BTW, Veggo, the people further west say they make better lechon al horno than the guys in the east. I asked why, and the guy I was talking to winked, looked right, then left, leaned a bit closer and in a whisper, said "we cook it in the ground!"
                  But its all soooo good, and by your post, I can tell you can't stop telling people how good it is - same here!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: porker

                    Castacan, Merida, Yucatan, March 2009: http://www.use.com/7e535fc4bfcdf6ba466d

                    1. re: bigpurpleguy

                      ymmmmmmmm

                  2. nothing better than lechon that has been roasting on a spit over keawe coals for a few hours

                    1. I've always enjoyed the occassional pork rind out of the bag, and recall my father making what he called "piggy puffs" out of fresh pork skin. However, they were never my go-to snack.

                      Now that I've moved to a Muslim country (we are not Muslim), I find that I'm almost always picking up a bag or two (or three) of Filipino-made chicharonnes whenever I'm in a supermarket that has a Halal section (or as my husband and I call it - "The Forbidden Pork Section"). I guess I'm getting a perverse satisfaction not only from buying the delicious pig, but from buying (and eating with enjoyment) what some might consider one of the less main-stream forbidden pork offerings.

                      Should I feel shame? Or should I start expanding my repetoire of recipes for the odd bits of a pig?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: kali_MM

                        Feel no shame, and definitely expand... Pork is far from taboo where I live, you can buy every edible part of the pig at the grocery store across the street from my apartment. I'm often tempted to arrange the pork section of the meat cooler anatomically. It just seems wrong to have the ears at the bottom of the rack and the feet way up top...

                        1. re: mpjmph

                          Where would you put the tail? Do the front feet belong in different place than the rear? In my local Asian grocery, they sell the long-cut feet, so the meatier front ones sell for a bit more. Cooking wise, feet and ears fit together, requiring similar cooking. Final preparation can be different though.

                      2. I'm currently killing a bag of Tito Al's Choice Salt, Vinegar, and garlic flavored pork rinds. I find that the filipino pork rinds are far superior to their american counterparts. DELICIOUS especially dipped in some sriracha. I also dip them in soy sauce, vinegar and garlic - learned this from a Filipino girl

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: bitsubeats

                          A pig anywhere is a pig. And it's skin is fried everywhere. Names and sauces vary by continent, sounds like you had helpful guidance.

                          1. re: Veggo

                            I find these to be far less puffy than the american ones. Some of them also make me feel like I'm going to break my molars when I bite down on them. Part of the fun in eating pork rinds, non?

                            1. re: bitsubeats

                              It has to do with the skinning and whether boiling precedes it. The thin, light, puffy are called "delgado", and contain no meat at all and are as close as one can get to carnivore Cheetoes. The thicker molar breakers are called "grueso" and have a little meat and meat flavor. Most packaged chicharonnes, the bite sized botaneros (cracklins), are made from grueso, which costs about 25% less per pound than delgado and have less volume.
                              I prefer whole delgado. My personal best for a single delgado measured 27" by19" and weighed only 11 ounces. I wonder about the shelf life of both at room temperature, but I buy them fresh and they don't last long in my house.

                          2. re: bitsubeats

                            Love Tito Al's Salt, Vinegar AND Garlic flavored pork rinds! They're crazy delicious. I tend to eat them straight since they have so much flavor. If I have regular pork rinds or other flavors I dip in a mix of vinegar, garlic, dash of sugar + chilies

                          3. I'm just going to have to accept that I'm Chow's white trash cousin, I think. So, no Ecuadoran or homemade rinds here.

                            I love Turkey Creek brand. Their chili lime are fantastic with nothing but a little sour cream for dipping, and the hot bbq is fantastic for making crumbs for meat loaf. Yes, that's right. There's no bread in my meatloaf, just pork rinds ground into crumbs. (On and off again low-carbing has taught me that the pig is my best friend in all stages of undress, as it were.)

                            1. There's a brand I can get at WalMart called--I think--Rudolph's. Cheap and utterly delish.

                              To me pork rinds are the ultimate vehicle for hot sauce. Were I a hot sauce reviewer, pork rinds would be my default base for testing/tasting the sauce.

                              1. In south Louisiana they sell cracklins that are still warm and are about as tasty as anything you can get anywhere. One paper bag full and you are addicted for life... That's why they call 'em "CRACKlins".

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Clarkafella

                                  Bought two bags in La Place last week....Can't put them down!! ...They are definitely... "CRACKlins"

                                  1. re: Clarkafella

                                    lol

                                    Looziana may be the CRACKlin capital of the US. My dear ol' Uncle Clarence taught me to put Louisiana Hot Sauce on pork rinds when I was an itty bitty boy and I've been hooked ever since, although I've branched out to many other kinds of hot sauce.

                                  2. in German it's called 'krustenbraten'' (= crispy pork with crackling) and the cold cut that shares the same name.

                                    anddddddddd..... Vietnamese pork rind shreds called "bi". in rice paper rolls or with rice (i am not a big fan of rice but this rice dish with pork rind shreds is fantastic.

                                    1. I'm Mexican and we have a number of ways we eat pork rinds. When growing up we ate it in a salsa verde or salsa roja and eat it in tacos. Another way is eating it crispy (i prefer to get these at hispanic stores if they make it on site).
                                      But, my ultimate favorite way of eating it is pickled (again, prefer to get it at store where they make it on site). When I was a kid I used to eat these over some salsa verde chips with hot sauce, lime and topped with the chopped pickled pork rinds....LOVE IT!