The words “guilty pleasure” always comes to mind when I think of Chicharrón de Cerdo Recipe (Dominican Pork Crackling).
We don’t seem to have an equivalent of “guilty pleasure” in Spanish. I am sure that somebody smarter than me can write a whole treatise on the linguistic, sociological or cultural implications of this, but I’d rather write about food.
In the Dominican Republic you can find chicharrones being sold in practically every town, but it is Villa Mella, a village founded by early Dominicans of African origin–and also famous for its syncretic music–that is known as the capital of chicharrones.
This isn’t surprising, pigs were common in poor households, where they would be fed scraps, and nearly every part of the animal would be put to use once sacrificed.
While I can’t promise you that this chicharrón de Cerdo recipe will result in chicharrones of Villa Mella quality, it is easy to follow, and you’ll love the results. Time to engage in some guilty pleasure.
- 2 lb [1.8 kg] of pork belly
- 4 quarts [1 gallon] of water
- 1½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of oregano
- 1 teaspoon of cracked pepper
- ¼ cup of bitter orange juice (or lime juice)
- 1 cup of oil for frying (canola, corn or peanut)
- 6 Lime wedges to garnish
In a thick-bottomed pot mix pork belly, water, salt, oregano, pepper and bitter orange juice.
Cook uncovered over medium heat until all the liquid has evaporated (there will be some fat from the pork).
Switch to a dutch oven, add oil and fry covered (to avoid splatters, see note) until it has turned a dark golden brown and skin is crispy.
Remove it from the heat and place it on a paper towel, let it cool down to room temperature.
Cut into small cubes (2 inches [5 cm]). Serve with tostones, garnish with lime wedges.
I want to repeat just how important it is to avoid hot oil splatters. When it's frying the oil gets pretty "explosive" so be very careful when uncovering the pot in which you fry it. It's best to use a splatter guard (link to affiliate store) or glass lid (with a hole to let the steam out) so you can see how things are going without uncovering. Remove from the heat before removing the lid to let the oil cool down a bit.