February 6, 2014
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Before the advent of cheap commercial shortening, cooks used lard or schmaltz—rendered pork or chicken fat, respectively—when they needed a semi-solid cooking fat. Cracklings are the bits of skin and adipose tissue left behind after most of the fat is extracted. This is where it gets a bit complicated. Consider the subset of cracklings consisting of pieces of skin. If the meat is pork these are often called pork rinds in the US but pork cracklings by African Americans, British, and Australians. (Among Ashkenazi Jews rendered goose or chicken skins are called gribenes.) Commercial pork rinds often are just fried strips of pork fat but no skin. If you want real pork rinds/cracklings, this is how to make them.
I adapted (ok, copied) this recipe from Black Girl Chef’s Whites. She has really nice photos.
Skin from the pork belly you are using to make bacon (more on which later)
Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Season the skin with kosher salt (yes, I note the irony) and put it fat side down on a sheet pan or in a roasting pan. Roast for about three hours, turning about half way through. Cool on a rack.
Note: do not discard the rendered fat. Add it to your lard jar if you have one or just put it into a bowl by the stove for frying eggs.