How to Make Pork Cracklins in Your Kitchen

The old fashioned way, but in your kitchen instead of under a tobacco barn shed...
After filming the series, I have done this outside in a large cast iron pot using a paddle and an entire day. From that experience I know it can be done on a range in a shorter period of time, provided you have a trusty ventilation hood. 

  • A large, heavy bottomed pan with high sides. In the restaurant we use a rondeau. 
  • A ventilation hood that really works. 
  • At least 10lbs pork fat with the skin attached. You could do less, but for this effort, what’s the point? 
  • A sturdy wooden spoon with a long handle and a flat rather than rounded tip. (The flat tip is not a deal breaker but it will make removing bits that stick to the bottom easier.) 
  • Two dry oven mitts. (Or side towels, as we call them in the business). 
  • A cracklin press. (You are not likely to find this unless you hang out with folks who conduct hog killings regularly.) But you can simulate the situation with 3 similar-sized containers. One of them needs to be perforated. A large metal colander or perforated pan works well. Then you need an additional pan or bowl that will sit inside of the perforated one, and finally, round out your cracklin press situation with a larger pan that will sit underneath the perforated vessel. 
  • Heavy cans, for weighting down the cracklins. 
  • Salt.
  • Roast sweet potatoes.

  • Begin with your heat on low and water to just cover the bottom of your pan. 
  • Add the fat and allow it to start rendering slowly. 
  • Using your wooden spoon, lift up any porky bits that are sticking to the bottom and stir frequently. 
  • Continue stirring. Do not raise the heat because you are bored. The fat will render slowly and in about an hour, you will have more liquid fat that chunks. 
  • In about 30-45 minutes more, you should see the cracklins really start to take shape. They will look like little golden brown, crispy nuggets. 
  • At this point you want to set up your cracklin press. 
  • Place your largest container (without holes) on the bottom and set your perforated colander or pan inside of it. 
  • Preferably with some help and your two oven mitts or towels, pour the lard and cracklins through the colander. The colander should catch the cracklins. 
  • Place the smallest bowl or pan on top of the cracklins and set as many heavy cans inside of there as possible or just press down with your body weight. The goal is to squeeze as much lard out of the cracklins as possible.
  • While they are still warm, remove the weight and the pan and season the cracklins generously with salt.
  • Reserve the lard so you can fry fish that will blow your mind!