- 2 pounds pork belly skin and other trimmings
- 1 cup peanut oil, or just enough to cover pork pieces
- 1 cup lard or bacon fat
- Freeze the pork skin for at least an hour, not so that it is frozen solid but so that it is at least pretty stiff. Slice into slivers about 3/4 inch thick and about 1 inch long.
- Heat the peanut oil and lard in a large cast-iron pot over medium heat to around 340 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Add the pork a little at a time, making sure not to let the hot oil splash. Monitor and regulate the temperature of the oil so that it doesn't fall below 300 F and doesn't go above 350 F. As the pork cooks, it will render more fat.
- Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, gently turning the pieces of pork, until the pork is floating in the oil. I use a set of long wooden chopsticks to flip the pork, or a pair of long tongs. The cracklin' should be dark and crispy.
- Gently scoop the pork out of the oil with a skimmer or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Season immediately with salt, nothing else. Let cool to room temperature.
- Store the cracklin' in jars or resealable plastic bags at room temperature.
More from Smoke and Pickles:
- Fried Pickles Recipe
- Okra Tempura Recipe
- Curried Corn Griddle Cakes Recipe with Sorghum-Lime Drizzle
In Smoke and Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen, Edward Lee delivers Southern cooking with an Asian twist! These recipes take a bold approach on traditional American cooking, resulting in exquisite dishes packed with amazing flavors. Readers of any culinary skill level can create flavorsome meals such as miso-smothered chicken, Kentucky-fried quail, and so much more! The following excerpt is from chapter 4, "Pigs and Abattoirs."
Excerpted from Smoke and Pickles by Edward Lee (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2013. Photographs by Grant Cornett.
Pork Cracklin’ Recipe
This is not so much a recipe — it’s just me telling you how I make my cracklin’. There’s nothing difficult about it, but it does require patience. Once done, the cracklin’ can sit out at room temperature for days, but I promise it’ll never last that long. Technically cracklin’ is the skin of the pork belly, but over the years, I’ve made it with every part of the pig. Basically, whatever scraps are left over from butchering and trimming a hog can become cracklin’. Be very careful doing this in your home kitchen: as with any prolonged deep-frying recipe, you have to watch the oil constantly.