The Daily Feed: Have You Tried Freshly Made Chicharrones?

The first bite I devoured. The second bite made me sit up, wide-eyed, and take notice. “What are THOSE,” I asked the waitress at Sol Cocina, a Newport Beach, California, restaurant. 

“Chicharrones,” came her laughing reply. She could tell I was hooked.

For the uninitiated, chicharrones are fried pieces of pork with a salty, baconlike flavor and an irresistible crunch. I consulted Latin Food expert Sandra Gutierrez, author of a forthcoming cookbook on Latin cuisine to be published by the University of North Caroline Press, to learn more.

Chicharrones can be made from different parts of the pig, says Gutierrez. Fried pork rinds are made from the skin, and eaten with lime juice and chile as a snack, or even crumbled on top of beans or eggs. Or, they may be made from pork belly or butt (the shoulder), prepared more like carnitas until, she says, “they are crispy and golden brown and completely irresistible to any human with a palate for decadent food.” When made in this style, the chicharrones are wrapped in tortillas and served with salsa or pico de gallo.

Gutierrez, who originally hails from Guatemela, grew up eating both kinds of chicharrones at parties, family celebrations, and informal barbecues. The treat is widely found throughout Latin America, starting, she says, “in Mexico and all the way down to Venezuela, Peru, and Argentina.”

Happily, more and more Latin restaurants are popping up here in the U.S.  If you have a chance to try freshly made chicharrones, do so without delay.

 

Cheryl Sternman Rule is a widely-published food writer and the voice behind the blog 5 Second Rule.

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