Chicharron de cerdo (Dominican fried pork rind or pork crackling) is one of our national guilty pleasures; few can resist it. It is the type of food that we enjoy on its own, but also incorporate into many of our other favorite dishes: from a flavorful locrio to a fritura plate.
Why we ❤️ it
The words "guilty pleasure" always come to mind when I think of chicharrón de cerdo (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: so let me tell you not only how to make it, but all the ways we can enjoy it.
Classic chicharron is deep-fried pork skin, usually, pork belly, which is seasoned and was traditionally fried in lard (its own fat released during cooking).
Chicharron is a from Spain brought to Latin America (along with pork meat) and other former colonies (like the Philippines). It can be found practically all over the continent with different touches in every country or region, from Mexico to Colombia to Peru.
Other fried or toasted dishes have borrowed its name, like Chicharrón de leche (the part that sticks to the bottom of the pot when making Dulce de leche), and Chicharrón de pollo, or crispy fried chicken bites.
Recipes with chicharron
We do not only eat chicharron on its own as lunch, dinner, as a snack, or as part of a fritura platter. We also use it to make other dishes that also carry its amazing flavor. Here are some traditional Dominican recipes, and/or inspired by our cuisine using chicharrones.
In the Dominican Republic, you can find chicharron meat 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.
Chicharron de cerdo.
It is very important to avoid hot oil splatters when frying chicharrones. 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.
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.
Some people may add a few garlic cloves, and/or two halves of red onion to the water for boiling. You can try that if you want.
The easiest, most popular choice to serve chicharron is a plateful of freshly-fried crispy Tostones (twice-fried plantains) and a few lime wedges to drizzle the chicharrones (lemon juice will do if you don't have limes). Some people offer some hot sauce on the side, so try that if it appeals to you.
You can also serve them with Batata frita (fried sweet potato slices), Yuca frita (cassava fries), Guineos verdes en escabeche (unripe bananas) or Yuca al mojo de ajo (boiled cassava in garlic sauce).
About our recipe
While I can't promise you that this Chicharrones de puerco 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.
And if your family has a secret touch to your chicharrones, please do share.
Chicharrón de Cerdo [Recipe + Video Dominican Pork Crackling]
- In a thick-bottomed big 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 the meat to another large pot (leaving seasonings behind), add oil, and heat over medium-high heat. Fry the chicharrones covered with a splatter guard (see notes) skin side down. Cook until it has turned a dark golden brown and the skin is bubbly and crispy.Remove it from the heat and place it on a paper towel to absorb the excess grease.
- Cut into small cubes (2 inches [5 cm]) and serve per suggestions above.
Tips and Notes
Nutritional information is calculated automatically based on ingredients listed. Please consult your doctor if you need precise nutritional information.
In English, chicharrón is "pork rind" or "pork crackling".
Chicharron is typically made with pork belly.
Chicharron is a Spanish dish that was spread to old Spanish colonies, from Latin America to the Philippines.
Published Oct 15, 2010, revised