These are not the ones you buy in the convenience store, these here, are the real deal!
I remember this guy on his trailer at the fisherman market in Westwego frying up cracklins and selling them. I would always want to buy a bag and snack on them on the way home. Now, these are addictive but nothing that you want to just munch on all the time!
If you are able to find pork belly with the skin on, get it. It will add a nice crackling effect and extra crunch. The pork belly I used did not have the skin on but still came out crispy.
I adapted this recipe from Issac Toups, who owns Toups Meatery down in Nola. He is known for the meat-centered and Cajun dishes at his restaurant in Mid-City. The cracklins there are very good and so is the dirty rice!
For the "cracklin' dust" I took kosher salt and sugar and blended them up in a spice grinder. I wanted them to be a powder in order to adhere to the cracklin's better. Worked perfectly!
- 2 pounds pork belly, cut up into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup lard
- peanut oil for frying
- hot sauce to sprinkle on at the end
- 2 tablespoons chile de árbol, ground
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt (ground in a spice grinder or blender)
- 1 teaspoon sugar (ground in a spice grinder or blender)
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, ground
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds, ground
In a dutch oven, add pork belly and lard and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir frequently and reduce the heat down. Cook for 25-30 minutes until meat begins to brown a little bit and get tender.
Remove from dutch oven and place on a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate until cold.
Combine all spices in a small bowl.
Strain lard from dutch oven and reserve for future use. Add peanut oil and bring up to 380 degrees. Add pork belly and fry in batches until puffed and golden brown, 2-3 minutes.
Drain on paper towels, and in a bowl or bag, add a few dashes of hot sauce and sprinkle cracklin spice.