Pressure-Cooked Chicharrón - Modernist Cuisine

Pressure-Cooked Chicharrón

Recipe • January 27, 2015

It’s hard to miss the fanfare (or better yet, 12th-manfare) around Seattle right now—the Space Needle glows green at night and enormous 12s can be spotted along the skylines of Seattle and Bellevue, just across Lake Washington. Whether you’re a fan of the Seahawks, Patriots, or the commercials (or biding your time until next year), there’s one thing we can all get excited about: game day snacks. This year, we’re honoring the old pigskin with . . . pig skin. Pressure-Cooked Chicharrón to be exact.

Step 5 deep fry

Chicharrón is pork skin that has been dehydrated, fried, and puffed into crackling. It’s an addictive snack or garnish: make plenty, or it might disappear before it gets to the table. Pork skin is available from many butchers and at many Asian and Latin American markets.

The key to good chicharrón is drying the skin by just the right amount before frying it. The dried pieces should at that point flex slightly, and then snap in half. If they are too moist or too dry, they will not puff properly in the hot oil. Proper inflation is essential to good chicharrón. A food dehydrator is the best tool for drying the skin, but if you don’t have one, preheat the oven to its lowest temperature setting, arrange the pieces on a rack set over a baking sheet, and dry them for 8–10 hours until they become leathery and flexible.

Crispy Pork Chicharron Final

We like chicharrón with guacamole and salsa; however, if you truly want to win your Super Bowl party, make campechanas: tacos of corn tortillas filled with equal parts carnitas and chicharrón, topped with your favorite green chili salsa.

– Adapted from Modernist Cuisine at Home


Pressure-Cooked Chicharron

Step 1 remove fat
For step 4, use a butter knife to gently scrape the fat from the cooled skin.

Step 2 dehydrate
If you’re drying the skin without a dehydrator, preheat your oven to the lowest setting, arrange pieces on a baking sheet, and dry until they become leathery and flexible, 8-10 hours.

Tips & Substitutions

  • In step 4, use a butter knife or other utensil to gently scrape the fat from the cooled skin. Take care not to tear the skin.
  • When choosing a neutral oil, choose one that has a smoke point higher than the desired cooking temperature. Peanut, soybean, and sunflower oils are our favorites for frying at high temperatures.
  • Deep-fry food in enough oil that the food floats and does not touch the bottom of the pan.
  • For step 8, deep-fry the skin a few pieces at a time. Work in batches as needed.
  • Make it a feast. Check out our recipes for Pressure-Cooked Carnitas, Modernist Seven Layer Dip, Melty Queso Dip, and Pressure-Cooked Fresh-Corn Tamales.