A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from February 15, 2008
Chicharrones (pork cracklings)

Chicharrones are pork cracklings (deep-fried pork skins). They are usually eaten as snacks and are popular in Mexico and other parts of Latin America.


Glossary - Mexican food recipes, cooking terms
Chicharrónes Pork skins which are fried in lard and eaten as a snack or used as a filling for tacos and as an ingredient in soups.

Wikipedia: Chicharrón
Chicharrón is a popular dish in Andalusia, Spain, and Latin America and is part of the traditional cuisines of Bolivia, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Brazil (where it is called torresmo), Peru, the Philippines and others. The singular form, chicharrón, is also used as a mass noun, especially in the Philippines where words do not have a pluralized form. They are usually made with different cuts of pork, but sometimes made with ram meat. In Puerto Rico chicharrones are also made with chicken, in Argentina with beef, and in Peru with chicken or fish.

The pork rind type is the skin of the pork after it has been seasoned and deep fried. In Mexico they are eaten in a taco or gordita with salsa verde. In Latin America they are eaten alone as a snack, with cachapas, as a stuffing in arepas or pupusas, or as the meat portion of various stews and soups.

In central Venezuela, chicharrones are commonly sold alongside main highways as snacks. The recipe usually produces crispy sizeable portions of pork skin with the underlying meat.

In Peru, chicharrones can be eaten as an appetizer or snack, and the chicken variant can taste quite like fried chicken found in the United States. Sides include a kind of red onion relish, fried yucca, and other regional variants.

The cueritos type are also made with pork skin and marinated in vinegar instead of deep fried. They are eaten as a snack.

In Mexico, snack-food company Barcel has commercialized a vegetarian version with chile and lime flavorings since the 1980s. In the Philippines, tsitsaron, as it is spelled in Filipino (chicharon is now an acceptable variant term, a derivative of the Spanish word chicharrón) is usually eaten with vinegar or with bagoong, lechon liver sauce, or pickled papaya called atchara. Tsitsarong manok, made from chicken skin, is also popular.

In Bolivia, chicharron is made out of pork ribs seasoned with garlic, oregano and lemon. It is boiled then cooked in its own fat, adding beer or chicha to the pot for more flavor. Pork chicharron is normally served only on Sundays and is eaten with llajua, a tomato salsa, and mote, a type of corn. There are other variations of chicharron made with chicken and fish. 

Handbook of Texas Online
TEX-MEX FOODS. Tex-Mex foods are a combination of Indian and Spanish cuisines, which came together to make a distinct new cuisine.
(...)
There were numerous dishes made from various meats, both from domestic and wild animals. Some of the more traditional ones are from pork, including chicharrones (fried pork rinds and various internal parts); from goat, including cabrito and machitos (called buriñate or buruñate in West Texas and burrañate in New Mexico); and from cattle, including fajitas.

Mac’s Snacks (Arlington, TX)
Mac’s Pork Cracklins
Bag Sizes: 2.5oz and 6oz Flavors: Plain, Hot & Spicy, Salt & Vinegar, Salsa Lime and Fat Back
Pork cracklins are another favorite with a hearty crunch and distinct bacon flavor. Similar to pork skins, they are produced from pellets, which are cooked pork skins. However, cracklin pellets are unmistakable in the fact that they are made from thicker and meatier raw material. By virtue of the fact they are popped from a denser pellet they are more substantial than pork rinds with a decisively robust crunch & flavor. Pork cracklins are a great addition to your deli section or meat department and can be packaged on deli trays or in bags to your choosing. Plain cracklins can be added to corn bread mixtures, stews and casseroles. Because this product is hard it retains consistency when cooked. A cracklin is soft when it breaks apart when squeezed between two fingers. The majority of competing cracklin products on the market are soft cracklins.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
chicharrones, n. pl.
[a. Sp., pl. of chicharrón (-rn), occas. also used.]
= CRACKLING vbl. n. 2, esp. as a Mexican delicacy.
1856 C. W. WEBBER Tale of South Border 48 Chicharrones are cracklings, and are one of the greatest delicacies the Mexicans know! When they kill a hog, they cut him up in small pieces; boil them for the lard until they are crisp; then strain and let ‘em get cold.
1934 E. FERGUSSON Mexican Cookbk. 33 Make a depression in the middle of each [tortilla] and fill with chicharrones, made according to recipe on page 30.
1973 E. L. ORTIZ Compl. Bk. Caribbean Cooking 426 Chicharrones are fried pork cracklings and are available packaged in Latin American and Caribbean markets.
1981 Gourmet Nov. 134 There was also the inevitable chicharrón man selling sheets of fried crisp pork skin that are nearly as puffy as pommes soufflées and like them, are traditionally deep-fried twice.

Google Books
Yankee Travels Through the Island of Cuba
by Demoticus Philalethes
New York, NY: D. Appleton & Company
1856
Pg. 204:
The other dishes were, salt beef from the Vuelta de Abajo, smoked pork, and chicharrones, or chacknels, made with the skin of the pig, well prepared and fried. They acquire a beautiful white color, and are so soft and brittle that they crumble to pieces as soon as they are put into the mouth.

Google Books
Lorenzo the Magnificent
(The Riders from Texas)
by Dane Coolidge
New York, NY: E. P. Dutton & Company
1925
Pg. 62:
On the mud stoves in the kitchen where the grease-pots were all seething there were chicharrones, cracklings, for all; the dogs and long-nosed hogs, ...

Your Mexican Kitchen:
A Compilation of Mexican Recipes Practicable in the United States
by Natalie V. Scott
New York, NY: G. P. Putnam’s Sons
1935
Pg. 7:
CHICHARRONES
Chicharrones are the Mexican equivalent of cracklings, made of the fat cut from under the skin of the hog, preferably from the part where the bacon is cut. Any obliging butcher can provide!

They are very easy to prepare. They must be cut in pieces, not necessarily very small nor regular; though for the average (Pg. 8—ed.) oven it is better that they be not more than 3 or 4 inches long. Then they cook in the oven, slowly, with frequent stirring, until all the lard is rendered, and they are crisp golden brown.

Take them out and strain them, then set them on a brown paper a few minutes to absorb the grease, and sprinkle lightly with salt.

The fresher they are, the better to serve, but they need not be served hot. Very highly recommended.

Google Books
Backcountry Mexico:
A Traveler’s Guide and Phrase Book
by Bob Burleson and David H. Riskind
Austin, TX: University of Texas Press
1986
Pg. 104:
Fried pork or beef tallow and skin (cracklings) are hung in a cloth bag from a rafter. These chicharrones are eaten in cornbread, with eggs, or alone.

Google Books
Memorias:
A West Texas Life
by Salvatore Guerrero
Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University Press
1991
Pg. 21:
It carried a minimum of grocery items, but specialized in goat meat, chicharrones (cracklings), chorizo mexicano (Mexican sausage), and some beef.

Google Books
Early Tejano Ranching:
Daily Life at Ranchos San Jose and El Fresnillo
by Andres Saenz
College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press
2001
Pg. 102:
Chunks of meat were saved for frying into chicharrones de carne, while skin rinds were fried and became cracklings, or chicharrones de cuero.
(...)
Other workers cut fatty pieces of meat to fry. When the meat chunks were good and hot, a worker dipped them out with a large strainer and put them into a burlap sack. Tying a wooden stick to each end, two workers twisted in opposite directions to squeeze out the lard, or grease, from the meat. The resulting bits of fried meat were called chicharrones de carne. The women saved the chicharrones for cooking later in various recipes. Other family members cut the skin into small pieces, fried the bits in the kettles, and again squeezed in the same manner to drain out the grease. These were cracklings, called chicharrones de cuero. All the grease was poured into cans to use for cooking lard.

The Tex-Mex Cookbook
by Robb Walsh
New York, NY: Broadway Books
2004
Pg. 124:
AT MATAMOROS MEAT MARKET NO. 4 on Washington Avenue, I stand before a glass case filled with glistening pieces of roasted buche (pork stomach), deep-fried chicharrones (crunchy fat), and several choices of stewed meats in long trays
(...)
Photo Caption:
Deep-frying a pork skin to make chicharrones.

24 June 2006, El Paso (TX) Times, “Making chicharrones is city’s hottest job” by Ramon Bracamontes:
When Ismael Payan wants to cool off, he walks outside—even if it is the middle of June and the temperature is 102. “I work with the devil,” said Payan, 38, who cooks chicharrones in seven deep-fat fryers that keep the overall temperature in his kitchen around 150 degrees. “At first I could only take five minutes in here. Now I can last 30 minutes, and then I have to walk out.”

Houston (TX) Press
The Carniceria Connoisseur: Late-Night Chicharrones at La Michoacana Meat Market # 10
Tue Jan 15, 2008 at 06:06:08 AM
(...)
As I have complained here before, I love the bacon-like chicharrones you get in the carnicerias of Monterrey, Mexico, but I hate the crumbly fat puffs that pass for chicharrones around here. I was about to give up and go get some fried chicken, when I noticed the bin that said “chicharron de barriga.” It looked a lot meatier than the other kind, so I asked for a tiny sample. It turned out to be a meaty, bacon-flavored fried pork strip of exactly the kind I’ve been looking for.

“What does barriga mean?” I asked the butcher. He turned sideways to show me his profile and patted his belly.
(...) – Robb Walsh

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Friday, February 15, 2008 • Permalink