Serving
(click to enlarge)

Pickled Pig Skins
Worldwide   (except Israel and Muslim regions)

Makes:
Effort:
Sched:
DoAhead:  
1-1/2 #  
**
2+ days  
Must

Compared to other pig parts, pickling skins is pretty tricky, and definitely requires potassium nitrate (saltpeter). The worst sin you can commit with this recipe is overcooking - even a little overcooked they are Yuk! Also, the saltpeter is essential or the whole jar will jell solid in a few days.




2
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6
1/2
3
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a/r
6
-----
6
2
1/2
5
1/2
1/2
3/4
1/2
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#
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T
t
qt
---

oz
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t

T
t
in
T
---
Pig's Skins (1)
-- Cure
Salt
Saltpeter (2)
Water
---------
Vinegar (3)
Onion
-- Spices
Chilis dry (4)
Bay Leaf
Peppercorns
Cloves
Coriander seed
Mustard seed
Ginger sliced
Salt
---------

  1. Prepare a jar of sufficient size to hold the skins. A 1-1/2 quart (6 cup) jar is just right for 2 pounds of skins. It should be as sterile as possible (a thorough cleaning with a strong disinfecting cleanser like Comet or a rinse with bleach solution will do fine).
  2. Check PIG SKINS for excess fat, particularly at the edges and cut it away. Cut the skins into pieces about 1-1/4 by 2-1/4 inches. This takes a sharp, strong knife and some effort - there's a reason they make footballs out of pig skin.
  3. Mix the Cure in a large pot and bring it up to a simmer (yes that's a lot of cure, but the skins tend to curl and take a lot of space). Stir in the Pig Skins and, over high heat, bring back to 210°F/99°C, in other words, just short of a boil. Take the pot off the heat and let it stand tightly covered in a cool place for 12 hours.
  4. Bring the pot to 180°F/82°C quickly. Immediately drain the skins and let cool.
  5. Clean the pot and return the Pig Skins. Pack them down, then pour in enough Vinegar to just about cover. Remove the Pig Skins again and set aside.
  6. Cut ONION into lengthwise wedges and stir into the Vinegar, then stir in all Spices. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  7. Put the Pig Skins back in and bring to a full boil over high heat. Immediately turn off heat and scoop the Skins out into a clean bowl. With tongs, transfer the Skins into the sterile jar. Pour the pickle vinegar over to cover. You can strain it or not, as you wish. If you have extra pickling vinegar save it in a separate jar for topping off as you remove skins from the jar.
  8. Cover jar tightly and let sit in a cool place for about 3 days before you start eating them (yeah, sure, like you're going to be able to do that).
  9. When serving rinse the pieces in warm water to cut down the acidity.
NOTES:
  1. Pig Skins:   Rolls of pig skins are easily found in meat markets serving a significant Mexican community. For this use, thicker hides are better, and they should have the fat removed pretty thoroughly (pork processors have a special machine for that - it's not easy to do by hand).
  2. Saltpeter:   This may be Potassium or Sodium Nitrate - I use Potassium Nitrate. The action of this chemical greatly improves color, texture and taste, as well as suppressing bacterial growth. For details and pros and cons see our Curing Salts page.
  3. Vinegar:   Buy lots of vinegar. Get it at a Restaurant Supply where it's under $1.50/gallon, not at the supermarket where it's 5 times that or more. Generally, Distilled White Vinegar, or you can use the fake Cider Vinegar (white vinegar and apple juice) sold in gallon jugs (real Cider Vinegar comes only in quarts or smaller).
  4. Chilis:   4 Japones will not make the skins very hot. 4 dried Thai chilis are a different matter though. De Arbols are in between, so use your own best judgement. For details see our Chili Page.
  5. Method:   The Salt and Potassium Nitrate cure has some advantages over pickling without nitrate. The meat retains a better color, and the gelatin doesn't migrate into the pickle liquid and jell it up solid. The flavor is also better. No, the saltpeter won't cause your pecker to go flat, that's an old boarding school myth, but English gin will do that. Potassium Nitrate is easy to order on the Internet. In my childhood we could get it cheaply from the local drug store, but I'm not sure that is still possible.
  6. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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