From the "Whole Hog" article in the January 2018 issue.
Chicharrónes and Red Chile
If you’re not cooking a whole hog, you can use pork belly to make this at home. You could fry the pork cubes in commercial lard, but they taste better if you take the time to cook them in their own fat, as described here.
- 1 pound pork belly
- Salt to taste
- Cut the pork into - to -inch cubes.
- In a wide, shallow pan, combine the pork and enough water to cover.
- Bring the water to a boil and reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook until all the water has evaporated and what’s left is just pork cubes and rendered fat, about 3 hours.
- Turn the heat to high and fry the pork cubes until golden brown and crispy, 3–5 minutes.
- Drain the chicharrónes briefly on paper towels and serve hot, with plenty of red chile sauce.
New Mexico Red Chile Sauce
Simple sauces like this are a mainstay of every matanza. Dip a freshly fried chicharrón into a bowl of it. Experience bliss.
Makes 4 cups
- 8 ounces (about 20–25) dried whole red New Mexican chile pods, mild, medium, hot, or a combination
- 4 cups water or chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1–2 teaspoons crumbled dried Mexican oregano or marjoram
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Toast dried whole chile pods in a heavy skillet over medium heat until they are warm and release their fragrance, 1–2 minutes per side.
- Remove chiles from the skillet immediately. When cool enough to handle, break each pod into several pieces (wearing rubber or plastic gloves if your skin is sensitive). Discard stems and seeds.
- Warm the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Sauté several minutes, until onion is limp.
- Place the chile pieces, onion, garlic, and oregano in a blender and pour in the water or stock. Puree until mostly smooth, with a few flecks of chile still visible.
- Pour chile mixture into a saucepan, then add salt. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer. After about 15 minutes, taste the sauce and adjust seasonings. Continue simmering, for a total of 20–25 minutes.
- When ready, sauce will be cooked down enough to coat a spoon thickly but still drop off it easily. Use warm or refrigerate for later use.