Chicharron is a dish that that’s very common in Mexico and across other parts of Latin America. What makes chicharron so popular is the fact that it’s exceptionally tasty, yet incredibly simple, and relatively easy to make.
What Is Chicharron?
In Mexico, Chicharron is typically pigskin that has been seasoned and fried. It’s a very simple dish that consists of few ingredients, and a very basic cooking process. But, despite this simplicity, chicharron offers a complex flavor loved by millions across the globe.
Traditionally chicharron is made of pork. However, in other parts of the world, chicharron is also made of mutton, chicken, or beef.
In Mexico, chicharron is almost always made of either pigskin, but sometimes pork belly can be used. Pork belly has a lot more fat than the skin, so the chicharron tends to be a bit richer. But, pigskin is often easier to fry and it is easier to serve as a small snack.
While the essence of chicharron is simply fried skin or fat, the seasonings play a very important part in creating the right taste. Salt and pepper are two of the most popular seasonings, but many cooks will use different seasonings – such as lime and chili peppers – to create new and unique tastes. This makes it easier for chicharron to be more than just a simple snack.
Salt and pepper are basic seasonings that do very little to directly alter the overall taste of the chicharron. But, they do add some flavor, making the chicharron taste a bit more like a nice salty snack, which is often what chicharron is often thought of as. When other seasonings are added, the flavors become a bit more unique, allowing chicharron to be thought of as another dish entirely.
One version of chircharron is a very popular snack that you can find in most Mexican mini-marts. When you take a look at the bag, you’ll notice that it looks just like pork rinds. That’s because it is simply fried pig skin that has been heavily seasoned with salt and pepper. Due to the overall simplicity of the dish, and the fact that it contains a great deal of protein, it’s a very popular snack in Mexico and Latin America.
Chicharron makes for an excellent snack because it is rich in protein and easy to pack. However, the packaged snack version is merely one variation of chicharron. Many people prefer to visit street food stalls or local markets where they can purchase chicharron that’s fresher and can be used for cooking or to accompany a variety of dishes.
While chicharron is often eaten just as a small snack, it is also served in many other ways. Some people put chicharron in salads, on tacos, inside of soups, and as a topping for a variety of other dishes. There’s a huge range of ways to eat chicharron which makes it such a popular and versatile food.
- Chicharron is usually fried pigskin in Mexico
- Seasonings play an important role in how the chicharron turns out
- Chicharron can be served in a variety of different dishes and alongside plenty of different meals
How Can You Make Chicharron?
Making chicharron is quite simple. There is nothing complex about the recipe, and you are given quite a bit of freedom when it comes to slicing each cut of meat and the seasonings that you use. That being said, making chicharron can take a significant amount of time, depending on the amount that you are making, and how deeply you wish to fry them.
Typically the process begins with cutting the pigskin into smaller slices. This is usually done simply as a space-saving tactic, as deep-frying them in a pot has limited space. Ideally, each slice will be around three inches in length, but if you have a much larger pot, those slices can be longer.
While doing this, you can cut off some of the fat that is on the pigskin, however, for some chicharron people prefer to leave it on for flavor. If you leave it on, your chicharrones will be quite thick and chewy, but it may not have the crispy texture that you’re looking for. If you want your chicharrones to have a nice, crispy texture, then it’s ideal to slice off most of the fat.
When you have your slices, with the amount of pork skin that is ideal for you, you will then need to dry each slice off. Many people choose to boil those slices in hot water, which dries them out and makes it far easier for you to fry them up. But, other people also put them in the oven for a few hours, at a low temperature. This serves the exact same purpose and maybe more convenient for you.
Once each slice is dry, you can start frying them up! To do this, you just need to place each slice of pork skin into the oil – one-by-one is usually ideal, unless you have a large frying pot – and then you need to wait for it to crisp up. When they start to have a golden brown hue, that’s usually a sign that they’re done.
Take each chicharron, and place it onto a plate that is covered with a paper towel. While it’s still hot, you can add your seasonings. It’s very similar to the process of cooking bacon. While salt and pepper is easily the most common seasoning, you can use any seasoning that you want.
- Begin by cutting the pig skin into smaller slices – three-inches long is often ideal
- If you want crispier chicharrones, cut off most of the excess fat, but if you want thicker chicharrones, leave the fat
- Dry each slice of pigskin off by either boiling it in water, or putting it in the oven at a low temperature
- Place each dried off slice into a pot of frying oil, until it has a golden brown hue – or a darker brown hue, if you want the chicharrones to be extra crispy
- Season the chicharrones with whatever seasonings you prefer