Chicharrón de Pollo (Crispy Fried Chicken Bites) are flavorful and crispy, and a favorite recipe here, you can find them in any humble restaurant in the Dominican Republic.
Chicharrón de Pollo can be found at any humble restaurant, countryside fonda, or Dominican beach food stand. It is the kind of food that one asks for when nothing in the menu seems trustworthy, or one is not sure of the quality of the offer.
It is rare for Chicharrón de Pollo to disappoint.
A "chin" of history
I never consult cookbooks to start developing our recipes. In general, I prefer to start with my own family traditions, or --when it comes to traditional Dominican recipes-- consult local home cooks about their way of doing things. The Dominican cookbooks have another important purpose for me (I collect them and I have several very old ones): They help me to learn the history of a dish and see how it has evolved over time.
In the book Cocina Criolla by Amanda Ornes, 1947 edition, there's a recipe for Chicharrón de Pollo. In her recipe, there are important differences from the dish as I know it today. For example, Mrs. Ornes only seasons the chicken with salt, soy sauce, and rum, something I have not seen before (the rum part). I'm not sure if it's a personal touch by the author. She also instructs to coat the chicken bits with cracker crumbs, instead of flour. All this seemed very curious and interesting to me, and I wanted to mention it here.
In contrast, the recipe in the book Comidas Típicas Dominicanas from 1965, by Ligia de Bornia, is much more similar to mine, including serving with limes. This is closer to the Chicharrón de Pollo I know, and the only important difference between ours is that the author uses paprika instead of pepper.
About our recipe
What makes the Chicharrón de Pollo different from other fried chicken dishes is that:
1- The chicken is boned and cut into small pieces.
2 - It should be very crispy, especially the skin.
Beyond these points, each cook has his own way of seasoning it, as is made quite evident in the previous paragraphs.
In our recipe, we will use chicken thighs. Why chicken thighs? Because they are the most flavorful part of the chicken, easier to remove the bones, have more skin, and are less dry. This is a personal preference, and I think it works better, but you can change it if you wish.
This recipe is my favorite combination, but of course, feel free to experiment. If you have another way of doing it, please share it with us in the comments.
Chicharrón de Pollo Recipe (Crispy Fried Chicken Bites)
- 2 lb [0.91 kg] of chicken thighs
- 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of pepper
- 1 teaspoon of oregano
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 2 cups of oil for frying
- 2 limes cut into wedges
Ready chicken: Remove meat from bones. Cut chicken into small pieces that you could eat in one or two bites. Leave the skin on the chicken. You can use the leftover bones and parts to make broth. Set chicken pieces aside.
Coat chicken: Combine flour, salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder. Mix well. Coat the chicken strips with this mixture. Shake excess off.
Fry: Heat oil in a deep pan over medium heat (350 ºF [175 ºC). Deep fry the chicken until it turns golden brown (3-4 minutes on each side) --careful with hot oil splatters! Fry them three by three to avoid lowering the oil temperature too much. Place on a paper towel to drain excess oil.
Serve: Garnish with lime wedges and serve with tostones.
Chicharrones de pollo in air fryer
If you want to make them in the air fryer, instead of frying in oil, cook at 350 ºF [175 ºC] for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. They will be paler and a bit drier than fried, but still crispy and very tasty. The first time around they stuck to the bottom a bit, which was mostly solved by coating the bottom with a bit of sprayed oil.