Before we proceed, let me forewarn you this chicharron recipe, albeit a simple process, takes a good few hours to make. It’s probably not something you’d want to do on a regular basis. Considering the time involved and the fact that pork cracklings are relatively inexpensive, you’d be better off with store-bought than homemade.
Now, if you are concerned about what goes on your food, enjoy experimenting in the kitchen or just have a free afternoon to spare, then this is the perfect cooking project for you!
What are Chicharrones Made of?
Although chicharrones generally consist of fried pork belly or pork rinds, these delicious cracklings have taken many forms in Philippine cuisine and are also made using other ingredients such as chicken skins, pork ears, intestines (isaw) and omentum (bulaklak) as well as tuna skin.
Another popular Filipino variant is the Ilocos bagnet which is a cross between lechon kawali and chicharon and uses a double-fry method to attain its characteristic crispness.
How to Make Chicharon
- Cut the pork rinds into about 1 1/2 to 2 inches. Note that although they will initially shrink in size when they render their fat in the oven, they will expand and puff up when deep-fried in hot oil.
- Cook until tender but not falling apart. I like to use a simple solution of vinegar, peppercorns, crushed garlic, and salt to infuse flavor. Drain well and refrigerate to cool completely.
- Arrange the meat in a single layer on a rack and dehydrate until shrunken and brittle. In olden times, the cooked skins are laid out under the hot sun to draw out excess moisture. Since this method is not exactly doable in cold weather and unhygienic for one thing, I prefer to use the oven to dry out the skins.
- Deep-fry in hot oil until golden and crispy and begins to float. For the best texture, do not overcrowd the pan and fry in batches as needed to maintain proper oil temperature.
- Remove from pan and drain on a wire rack — season with salt and spices as desired.
I know I didn’t sell this tsitsaron recipe well at the beginning of the post, but if I may backtrack a little, I’d say you should try it at least once. Not only is chicharon a tasty, low-carb snack or appetizer, it’s also a great way to boost flavor in other dishes such as ginisang munggo and pancit palabok.