Arguably one of the fattiest foods, cracklings done right are packed with flavor and depth. Typically eaten fresh, pork crackling, or cooked, fatty pork skins, can be stored refrigerated for two to three days. When frozen, these decadent crumbles of cooked, fatty skin become mushy and lose the texture that truly defines them.
Crackling Storage Basics
Crackling is best served fresh when it is at its peak of crunchiness and flavor. If you make a large batch that cannot be eaten right away, store the crackling in an airtight container lined with paper towels for up to three days, refrigerated. Reheat cracklings in a 250-degree Fahrenheit oven directly before serving to crisp them back up after refrigerator storage. Never heat crackling in the microwave, as this can cause them to explode.
Different than pork skins or rinds, cracklings contain both the pork skin and the layer of fat beneath it. You can order the skin from a butcher or buy a skin-on raw shoulder, raw ham or pork belly to render the skin and subsequent crackling yourself. Once the skin is removed, freeze it briefly to make it easier to cut and dice into 1-inch squares. Salt the skin or use a spice rub to season it and let it rest overnight, pouring off any liquid that accumulates. Roast the skin in a 250 F oven for about an hour. Turn up the heat to 400 F to finish the cracklings until they are crisp. Drain on paper towels well before serving.
Cracklings are often eaten on their own as a snack, but also can be used as a topping for a variety of other dishes to add a layer of complexity. Use them to top a salad in the same way you would bacon bits, serve them atop refried beans with cheese or add them to a bowl of soup. Cracklings can be baked into savory items, like cornbread, and can be used to add flavor to vegetables, such as green beans and collard greens.
Crackling with Pork Roasts
One way to cook crackling is to cook the skin still attached to a roast or cut of meat, trimming it away once it’s fully crisped and serving it along with the meat. To do this, it is important you start with a dry piece of meat and score the skin before roasting the meat to allow it to crisp during cooking. Remove the crackling once crisp using a sharp knife and use it to flavor a gravy or sauce to serve with your meat for an explosion of texture and taste in your dish.
References and ResourcesGourmet Direct: Cracking Good Pork Crackling
Knorr: The Secret to Perfect Crackling
Lard: The Lost Art of Cooking With Your Grandmother's Secret Ingredient; Grit Magazine
The Guardian: Homemade Pork Scratchings: Perfect for Picnics
AmazingRibs.com: Lip Smackin Cracklins