It’s been many years since I last cooked Locrio de Chicharrón de Cerdo (Rice and Pork Crackling), but it has always been a classic in my family. I ate it so many times at my paternal home, but I seldom cooked it myself. It’s time to change that.
Ate it I did, enjoyed it a lot too. Who raised by a Dominican mother didn’t? This dish, this meat, is part of our cultural DNA.
Pork was a hugely important meat starting from the moment Columbus set foot 0n our island for the second time on his second voyage to the “new continent” in 1493. This time around he came prepared for colonization and conquest, and along with weapons and provisions came the first horses, pigs and cattle.
Pigs multiplied like… er, rabbits(?)–Well, I’m not sure about the intricacies of pig reproduction. The fact that they are omnivorous and did not have natural predators in their new home helped a lot. They soon outgrew some of the native fauna of the island and escaped into the mountains. A couple of years ago I found out that there are still wild pigs living in remote mountains of the Dominican Republic.
It is hardly any surprise that pork became a staple of our diet, and the preferred meat at celebrations. In fact, our puerco asado (pork roast) is the highlight of the most important meal of the year: Christmas Eve.
Second to puerco asado, chicharrón (cracklings) is the favorite way of consuming pork in the Dominican Republic, although there are many others. And if you find chicharrón, then it follows that you’ll be also making some Locrio de Chicharrón de Cerdo (Rice and Pork Crackling). It’s the logical thing to do.
When the National Pork Board invited me to create a new recipe using pork, and offered to sponsor it, I almost tripped all over myself to agree. Can you imagine? Holidays are coming and for Dominicans that means pork dishes galore.
I had Locrio de Chicharrón de Cerdo once in a while at home growing up. It was always a special treat, once you try it you’ll find it out why.
Locrio de Chicharrón de Cerdo Recipe (Rice & Pork Crackling)
- 2 lbs [0.9 kg] of chicharrón de cerdo (pork cracklings)
- 4 cups rice , long grain
- 7 cups water , or vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (corn, peanut or soy)
- 1 cup of tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup of chopped red bell peppers
- 1 teaspoon of oregano
- 1 cup of diced carrot (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of crushed garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
- 1/4 cup pitted olives of your preference
- 1 cup of auyama (West Indian pumpkin), diced
- 1 teaspoon cilantro , finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- Chop the chicharrón into 1 1/2" [5 cm] pieces.
- Heat the oil over low heat in 4 qt [4 lt] cast aluminum or iron pot.
- Add chicharrón and heat-through. Add bell pepper, oregano, carrot, garlic, black pepper, olives, auyama, cilantro and salt.
- Simmer until everything is heated through.
- Add tomato sauce and stir to combine. Add water, increase heat to medium and bring to a boil.
- Add the rice and stir often to prevent it from sticking to the pot.
- Once all the water has evaporated, cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer over very low heat for 15 minutes, uncover and stir bringing the rice from the bottom to the top. Cover and cook another 5 minutes.
- Taste rice for "doneness"; it should be firm but tender inside. If necessary, cover and simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Serve with tostones and avocado slices.