Next time you’re in the mood for a delicious snack, make sure you know how to make pork rinds! Also called baconettes or chicharones, these crunchy little bites have experienced resurgent popularity in recent years, appearing as upscale bar snacks at places like San Francisco’s Magnolia Pub and Vidalia in Washington, D.C. Unlike cracklings, which are made with pork skin, fat and meat, pork rinds are made from deep fried pork fat, pure and simple. And while they’re certainly not as healthy as eating an apple, NutritionData.com reports that a half ounce serving of pork rinds contains no carbohydrates, 9 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fat, making them a reasonable snack when eaten in moderation. Then again, after you’ve nibbled on homemade pork rinds hot out of the pan, moderation may become a distant memory!
To make pork rinds, you’ll need:
- Pork fat
- Lard or oil (peanut or vegetable oil works well)
- A cast iron pan
- Seasonings like salt, pepper, and cayenne, if desired
- Paper towels
- Before you make pork rinds, you’ll need to get pork fat. You can find it on any cut of pork that has the skin and fat attached, like pork butt roast, also called Boston Butt, or rump roast. Occasionally, loin cuts also still have the fat attached. You can collect and freeze the pieces of fat as you get them until you’re ready to make pork rinds, or you can visit your butcher and purchase pork fat directly.
- Chill your pork fat in the refrigerator until you’re ready to fry your pork rinds. This step will make your pork rinds fluffier.
- When you remove the pork fat from the refrigerator, examine it carefully before cutting it. Make sure you’re working with only pork fat, and that all skin and meat has been removed. Then, cut the fat into 1 x 1 inch squares.
- Now, you’re ready to cook your pork rinds. Authentic recipes call for lard, but you can also use any oil that won’t smoke at high temperatures (like peanut oil). In a black cast iron pot, add several inches of oil or melt several inches of lard. Heat it until it’s very hot, and carefully place the pieces of fat into the pan. Because your pork fat is cold and the oil is hot, it will probably pop quite a lot, so watch out! Deep fry your pork rinds until they become light and golden brown, taking care not to overcook them – which will make them too hard.
- Once your pork rinds are brown, remove them from the pot. Place them on paper towels and season them immediately. You can eat your homemade pork rinds hot, or store them in an airtight container.