07-24-2013, 10:15 PM
Join Date: 09-03-12
This is very similar to the way my grandfather would make his.
Although cracklins (grattons in Cajun) are commonly known as pork rinds or baconettes, they are really not the same. True both are both made with pork fat but each has a different method of cooking and a different type cut of meat.
Pork fat with or with out meat attached
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.
The easiest place to get the pork skin/pork fat for cracklings is from either a pork butt roast (Boston Butt), rump roast, and sometimes you can find the skin and fat still attached to a loin cut. You will see the skin/fat still attached to the roast. Actually, 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.
In his day, the fire was lit to boil the water at 3:00 in the morning to slaughter the hog that was going to be used for the cracklins. The hog was covered in heavy burlap and the hot water poured over the hog. Pouring boiling water directly on the hog scalds the skin. The skin was then shaved to remove the hair. The process was repeated until the skin was clean and slick.
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, Best Stop Cajun Seasoning, Season-All, Lite salt and the list goes on can all be used to season your delights. 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 until light and golden brown. 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.
Remove to paper towels for draining and immediately season the cracklins. To preserve the flavor and freshness, store in an airtight container.
Words to live by:
In life, remember that pigs get fat, but hogs get slaughtered. For pure heavenly Cajun treat, grab a link of boudoin (boudin) sausage in one hand and cracklins in the other. Wash down with an RC Cola or a cold one. Enjoy your cracklins, ya’ll.
Last edited by Ron_L; 07-25-2013 at 06:38 AM..