American Style “ciccioli”
“Cracklings” is one of the many onomatopoeic names used in English, or those words whose sound already evokes their meaning, such as crashes to indicate an accident or boom for an explosion. Cracklings is the name that is given in the United States to a kind of snack made with fried pork rind, more or less the correspondent of our ciccioli. I know what you’re thinking but actually the Cracklings if they are done correctly, they are not as heavy as you could imagine – the rind literally explodes in baking, making them become lush clouds of taste. It’s probably better not to tell this to your dietologist but certainly the end result is something you can not stop eating, ideal if you are drinking an aperitif with your friends, waiting to serve your Q at the table. You remember when we saw together how to accomplish the Smoked Almonds right? Imagine this might be the idea for filling the bowl at the other end of the table. The sense is the same: these all are stuff you can prepare calmly in the previous days, which can be preserved without major problems and which is perfectly themed.
Cracklings are also known in the States as Chicharrones, a term that is used in all Hispanic matrix countries to generically indicate dishes based on pig rind or fat pieces. The Cracklings have a very precise connotation and are traditionally prepared in two phases: an initial one in which the rind is spiced and slowly dehydrated and a subsequent one in which it is fried. Unfortunately however, packed Craklings are not found at our longitudes. The idea was then to define a recipe for making them here, but as you well know, I do not like to rely too much on additional cookings: if it’s a barbecue, that’s BBQ! I thought of trying to replicate the preparation only using a normal kettle.
We will initially set the Ketttle with the smoker set up we saw in a previous post and slowly dry the rind at 120° C for three hours. Then we will bathe it in the lard and raise the temperature so to fry it until it is popped. Ingredients are at the limits of the banal, just three spoons of lard, pork rind and some rub of your taste. If you have discarded the rind from another recipe, such as that Pork Burnt Ends one, you could reuse it by making the Cracklings, otherwise you can buy it at a ridiculous price from your butcher, as long as you do not have it for free. Me for about 1 kg of reed, with which it is possible to make an entire salad bowl of Cracklings, I paid 2,19 €. As for Rub, I chose one who would give a little brio to the recipe making of it a real bber-asking-snack in effects. I opted for a Big poppa Smokers Cuckoo Racha, an excellent Chily rub, spicy and deliciously hot.
1 Kg of Pork Rind
3 spoons of Pork Lard
2 spoons of BPS Cuckoo Racha Rub
- As first, I take off all the fat from the pork grid, if the butcher has not already made it for you. I then proceed to cut it to a listener, about the size of a match. Add the rub in a bowl and mix it without adding any other seasoning until they are rubbed homogeneously.
- Then I place neatly the listers on a perforated cooking tray and place them in the kettle set up as a smoker. Since my goal is to dehydrate the rind, compared to the traditional set up, I replace water in the water pan with salt, as I often do on my bullet smoker when I want to favor the bark. Just for completeness I add a handful of Pecan Chips on the coals and let the heat do its slow work.
- After about 3 hours, they are dehydrated and wrinkled on their own. At this time they are absolutely inedible: chewing them would remind spicy rubber strips. I take 3/4 full chimney of briquettes full combustion and in the meantime I melt the lard in a sustained flame pot.
- I quickly change set up: pull off the containment pan, remove the aluminum foil, completely open the upper and lower vents and add the hot briquettes. I support the tray with the rind on a bowl, I pour over it the melted lard and then put it back in the kettle.
- In a matter of seconds we have over 220° C, but in fact it will be enough to exceed 200° C. Do not go any further because you would risk burning the rub. Feel the frills and quick look, peering under the cover, you can see it swell and crack: Cracklings are rising! Within about 10 minutes all Cracklings have completed the cooking, take the tray, bring them in a bowl with a couple of layers of kitchen paper on the bottom and let them cool down.
The more they cool and the more Cracklings become dry and crunchy. As soon as you taste them you immediately understand the reason for their name: they literally crumble into the mouth, much lighter than the cooking method would make you presuppose. The taste is spicy, “sparkling” and invoked with vehemence the presence of a glass of fresh beer on the counter. Beside Smoked Almonds, Cracklings are the perfect griller aperitif. Will you save some space to taste your Q too?