Chicharrón (or chicharrones) is one of those ubiquitous Latin American foods: each country has its own version. Chicharrones originated in Andalucía, Spain, and thus are eaten in most Spanish-speaking countries; though many regional names and adaptations exist. Chicharrones are traditionally crispy fried cuts of pork; but meats and condiments vary by country.
In Peru, chicharrón is meat that has been boiled until the liquid evaporates and most of the fat renders out, at which point the meat fries in its own fat (basically a confit). Because of the fat content, the meat is almost always pork; but it can be made with beef, chicken or even fish (with some cooking modifications). The pork is usually boneless picnic shoulder or pork butt, cut into large chunks; but sometimes (in pricier eateries) chicharrones are made with pork ribs.
Frequently, chicharrones are made the previous night, then enjoyed for breakfast. Chicharrones can also be eaten as an appetizer or snack. When traveling between the coastal beaches and Lima proper, savvy tourists stop at the town of Lurin, where the street vendors and restaurants are famous for their huge chicharrón sandwiches – thick, crusty rolls stuffed with fried pork, sweet potato, and fresh salsa criolla, the mild onions bursting with the flavor of tangy Peruvian lime juice.
Here, I’ve made chicharrones with baby back ribs – it’s a convenient way to eat them, plus the bones add a rich flavor to the meat. Cueritos (lightly-fried pork rinds, eaten as a snack) are marinated in vinegar. My version combines the cueritos marinade with the confit technique – with very successful results, I think.
Copyright © 2011 la vida comida
Recipe by Jennifer Ramos Lorson.