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Mexico / Cuba / etc.
  -   Chicharrónes de Puerco Delgado
9-1/2 oz  
6 hr  
This procedure will make the lightest, fluffiest Chicharrónes you've ever seen - with almost no splattering! Most recipes splatter almost explosively. Chicharrónes are mostly protein and have less fat than potato chips, but commercial products are extremely salty. Made by this recipe they are less salty. 1-1/2 pounds of hog hide will yield about 9-1/2 ounces of Chicharrónes. See Note-4 for background.

Pig Skins (1)  
Lard (2)
Oil (3)
Prep   -   (5-1/2 hours, (20 min work))
  1. Trim any fat from the PIG SKIN. If it is commercially prepared there should be just a little around the edges. If you're doing it yourself you've got quite a job there. See Note-2 before discarding the fat.
  2. Cut the pig skin into the size pieces you want. About 2 inches by 3 inches is good. You can do this with a strong sharp knife or with strong sharp kitchen shears. Either way it takes some effort - there's a reason they use this stuff to make footballs.
  3. Put the Skins in a pot with plenty of water and add a couple tablespoons of Salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 1 hour.
  4. Grease a couple of rimmed baking sheets, use lard, not vegetable oil which dries to varnish and is hell to clean off the pans - see Note-2. Arrange the skins on the sheets fatty side down. Some may roll up and refuse to lie flat - that's OK. Place the trays in the oven at 200°F/95°C. Use an oven thermometer since oven controls are notoriously inaccurate at this low a temperature and the results will be a bit different if the temperature goes over 212°F/100°C.
  5. Leave in the oven until completely dry and rigid like chips of plastic, turning them once or twice. This will take more than 4 hours depending on conditions. If they are not completely dry there will be tough spots on the Chicharrónes. I usually get the oven temperature stable in the late evening and just leave them in overnight.
  6. At this point the pieces will be thoroughly mummified and can be kept in a sealed jar until needed.
Run   -   (20 min)
  1. In an Indian kadhai, wok or other suitable vessel, heat enough Oil so that foamed up pieces can be pushed mostly under the oil. This is why I recommend a kadhai (best) or wok, it takes a lot less oil to get that depth in the center.
  2. Heat the oil and keep between 440°F and 460°F/240 (225°C and 240°C) for best foaming (450°F max for peanut oil). Drop in just a few Pig Skins. When they start to puff up turn them constantly and push any with unpuffed spots below the oil. Once they start puffing they will be done in 30 seconds or so. Repeat until all are done.
  3. Drain well and cool thoroughly. Put up in a big plastic bag until needed, tying it tightly closed to exclude moisture.
  1. Pig Skins:   These can easily be found in meat markets (Carniceria) serving a Mexican community. Very thin skin does not puff up as well as medium thick. For details see our Pig Skins page.
  2. Lard:   Greasing your baking pans with lard will make them easy to clean. If you don't have lard on hand, you have probably trimmed enough fat from the edges of the sheet of hog hide to render as much as you need. Fry over very low heat, and when done eat the cracklings with a little salt. Lard, by the way, has a better health profile than butter.
  3. Oil:   Use a high temperature oil low in polyunsaturated fats, preferably Olive Pomace, but Rice Bran Oil or Peanut Oil will do. For details see our Cooking Oils page.
  4. Background:   Be aware that "Chicharrón" can mean a lot of things in Spanish speaking countries other than the common meaning in North America. "Chicharrón" indicates a method of cooking, not an ingredient. Even in Mexico, Delgado (thin) differentiates these from Gordito (thick, with fat layer and some meat attached).
  5. 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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