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If you’re an aspiring homesteader, you must know how to make cracklins or cracklings. And even if you’re not, it’s a much better snack than the majority of highly processed, commercial snacks such as chips or crackers. It’s cheap, it’s easy, and it’s delicious.
So, if you don’t have it in your recipe book, it is time to add it. If you’re not convinced, here are a couple of reasons to reconsider.
Are Cracklins Bad for Your Health?
Pork belly cracklings are finding their way back to our tables in recent years. For decades pork, and red meat altogether, was dubbed unhealthy, so nutritionists used to recommend avoiding it completely.
However, the tide has turned. Contemporary research has shown that red meat is not the main culprit for health issues as long as you eat it moderately. And there’s a good side to it, too. Pork is an excellent source of minerals and vitamins such as selenium, zinc, iron, thiamine, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6. Of course, it’s an excellent source of high-quality protein, and then there’s a various amount of fat depending on the pig’s body part and trimming.
So, the bottom line is that pork was unjustly declared as unhealthy. Simply, old studies analyzed all kinds of red meat, including sausages, salami, and even canned meat. Today, it is proven that it’s not that simple. As a general rule of thumb, the more processing that occurs, the more unhealthy the food becomes.
While cracklings and other pork products will never make the top of healthy food lists, they do come with some benefits and moderate consumption won’t threaten your health.
Traditional and Other Diets
Not so long ago humans used to live more frugal lives. Before consumerism conquered the world, we didn’t waste resources including food. Everything was used for something.
But I am not trying to tell a story about a lifestyle that is more balanced and accordant with nature. It’s the story of how we made cracklings. While rendering animal fat and skin our ancestors used remains to make first cracklings. It was a way to save every ounce of food and make even skin edible.
Pork rinds and pork belly were and are used worldwide with the exception of Islamic and Jewish people due to religious reasons. Both Americas, Europe, and large parts of Asia have a long tradition of making cracklings. There are different local recipes, so if you like experimenting you can make various kinds.
One of the reasons for the resurgence of cracklings is the growing popularity of different low-carb diets. Cracklings have zero carbs and sugar. So, it’s a perfect ingredient for those who avoid high-carb intake. Commercial cracklings are often marketed as paleo and keto-friendly. Paleo and keto diets are among the most popular low-carb diets. I am not a big fan of these diets but that’s a whole ‘nother story.
Cracklings Are Delicious
We tend to overcomplicate things when it comes to food. Is it healthy, is it expensive, how long it can last? I am not saying we shouldn’t consider all these aspects, but it makes us forget about how great it feels to eat delicious food. So, we can stockpile honey, ghee, rice, and canned food for disaster scenarios.
Or make some hardtack that can last forever. But, we shouldn’t forget to enjoy delicious and savory food. While I love crackling sounds of fire, eating pork belly cracklings delights me even more. And you can do it while sitting by the fire.
Easiest Cracklings Recipe
- 2lb pork belly with skin
- 1 tbsp of salt
- A little bit of oil
Prepare the pork belly. It’s simple and easy.
First, you need to score the skin of your pork belly. Use a very sharp knife and make a series of parallel straight lines across the skin. These cuts don’t have to be deep, just a few millimeters is enough. The distance between the lines should be roughly half an inch.
Now, add a tablespoon of salt. Rub it into the pork skin and a little bit on the other side.
Put your pork belly into a baking tray and leave it in the fridge for an hour or two. If you like your cracklings to be crispy, you should leave it in the fridge overnight and let the salt do the job. Salt will slowly penetrate meat to improve the taste but it will also draw moisture out of it.
So, the longer it sits, the dryer and crispier it will get. If you don’t want too crunchy cracklings, just skip the sitting part.
When you take the pork belly out of the fridge, you’ll see moisture and water on top of it. Use a paper towel to collect moisture. This will help you to achieve a beautiful and crispy texture for your cracklings.
Now, it’s time to rub the skin with oil. After that, you can sprinkle it with spices or some extra salt. It is optional, just to find a perfect taste or add a touch of your own. While you do this, you can preheat your oven to approximately 400°F.
Place your pork belly in a roasting tin, skin facing down. Cover it with baking paper and it’s ready for the oven.
Roast it for about an hour. Then, turn it upside down and roast it for another 10 minutes.
If you haven’t noticed, it’s done! Slice it and serve the cracklings as you like – warm or cold, with or without additional spices. You can even make huge quantities and store them in the freezer.
This is my favorite crackling recipe because it’s simple and easy, and it works every single time. You can easily adjust the taste by adding your favorite spices and herbs. These irresistible snacks are delicious. It’s hard to believe that they are actually a by-product of fat rendering.
If you want to become a highly esteemed homesteader, you should have at least a couple of cracklings recipes under your belt. Starting simple is always the best way to go. It will save you some disappointments and you can enjoy it from the very beginning.