How to Make Cracklings

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Cracklings are an old-time treat that is actually a by-product of rendering lard from pork fat. When a pig was slaughtered every part was used, including the skin and fat. Chunks of fat with the skin on (and with the skin off) were placed in a large kettle and cooked over a slow fire to allow all of the fat to melt into oil. Once the fat melted, the pieces left over are called cracklings.

Things You'll Need

  • Chunks of pork fat and meat still attached to the skin
  • Open flame
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Bowl
  • Large heavy pot
  • Cooking oil
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Ladle
  • Platter
  • Paper towels
  • Cooking thermometer
  • Singe any hair off of the skin by lightly running over an open flame.

  • Cut the chunks of pork into thumb-sized chunks about 3/4” wide.

  • Place the chunks into a large cooking pot.

  • Place enough cooking oil in the pot to reach the depth of 1”.

  • Slowly heat the pot to the temperature range of 350 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit while stirring the pork chunks.

  • Stir the pork chunks regularly to avoid burning.

  • Ladle enough melted oil out of the pot to prevent it from overflowing while you are rendering the cracklings.

  • Remove the pot from heat after 25 minutes or when the cracklings have lost approximately 75% of their volume.

  • Line the platter with paper towels.

  • Scoop out the cracklings with the ladle and place in a single layer on the towel-lined platter.

  • Allow the cracklings to cool before eating.

Tips & Warnings

  • Cook the cracklings outside if at all possible. This will not only protect your kitchen from grease splatters but prevent your kitchen from absorbing the smell from the cracklings, which is hard to get rid of. Cracklings can be used in corn bread as a seasoning by breaking into smaller pieces as desired and stirring into corn bread batter before baking. Save the rendered oil and use it to season foods whenever bacon grease is called for.
  • If the oil starts smoking the cracklings are about to burn. Quickly turn the temperature down.
  • Do not use plastic ladles and/or stirring spoons. They will melt.

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References

  • Photo Credit knife image by dethchimo from Fotolia.com
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