Cracklins (Cracklings) /Grattons and Pork Rinds /Baconettes2004-08-31
- Prep Time : 30m
- Cook Time : 60m
- Ready In : 1:30 h
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Although cracklins (grattons in Cajun) are commonly known as pork rinds or baconettes, they are really not the same. While both are both made with pork fat, each has a different method of cooking and a different cut of meat. To make cracklins you use a cut of pork that has the pork skin, pork fat and pork meat all attached. Pork Rinds, on the other hand, use only the pork fat. Virtually any piece of pork that has skin or fat attached to it can be used to make cracklins. What my long time Cajun friend, Dale Begnaud, told me was that his Dad would collect and freeze the pieces of fat and skin from the roast and other cuts until he had enough to make his cracklins.
- 10 pounds Pork Belly - the best choice piece of pork to make these or Pork skin with fat with or without meat attached
- Cajun seasonings
Most Cajuns season to taste with a combination of salt, black pepper and red pepper. Commercial products such as Tony Chachere's, Slap Yo Momma, Zatarins, Season-All, etc. It is strictly a matter of preference. No magic here. Cracklins and pork rinds have to be seasoned immediately after coming out of the pot. So get those seasonings you want ready.
Pork Rinds – Baconettes
If you have only the fat (no meat or skin), cut in 1x1 inch squares. To make them fluffier, at the beginning of the cooking process, chill the fat by placing in the refrigerator.
Now that the fat has been cut and chilled, you are ready to cook them. Since you are cooking pork rinds/baconettes it is most authentic to use lard, but you may substitute peanut oil or any other frying oil that does not smoke at high temperatures. In your black cast iron pot get several inches of oil very hot. Place the fat pieces in the hot oil and deep fry until light and golden brown. Do not overcook as the pork rind can get hard. Also be careful when placing the fat in the pot as the oil can easily pop due to the cold being placed in the hot oil.
Once they are brown, remove from the pot and place on paper towels to drain and immediately season them. You would store in an airtight container to preserve freshness.
To make cracklins, the pork meat will be cut with the skin, fat and some meat attached. Old Cajuns generally used ¾ x ¾ inch thick pieces. As you will be cooking with water and letting the cracklins cook in their own grease, make sure that your pot size fits the amount of meat being cooked.
Fill your pot with water to one quarter of the depth of the pot. Note this is not one quarter inch, a mistake I had once made. Bring the water to a boil. Place the pork pieces in the water and keep a strong fire going. The water will dissolve the fat and also evaporate leaving the pork pieces to cook in their own melted grease (lard).
Fry the pieces at 250 degrees until light and golden brown approximately 1 hour per 10 pounds. Set aside to cool. As the cracklins can turn hard it is important not to overcook them. True Cajun cracklins are supposed to be very crunchy and firm to hard in texture. If you do overcook them and they become hard, they will still be edible with the same great flavor just not as easy to chew.
If the pork pieces are mainly skin and meat, it would be ok to fry as you would the pork rinds and not have to use the water. The water as mentioned is an important agent used to help melt the fat.
After the cracklins have cooled, turn up the burner and heat oil to 400 degrees. Drop the cracklings into the hot oil, stirring frequently to avoid burning and the skin will pop - approximately 10 minutes. Watch carefully as they can easily burn. As soon as they pop remove the cracklins to paper towels and season with your favorite Cajun seasonings.
To preserve the flavor and freshness, store in an airtight container. Glass generally works better and can keep the cracklings fresh up to two to three weeks.