You’ll needa couple of “cracklin slabs” about 1 to 2 inches thick, 8 to 10 inches wide, and 10 to 12 inches long.
You can buy these at many of the butcher shops up and down Airline Highway and on Old River Road—the slabs I used for this recipe came from Wayne Jacobs Smokehouse because I wanted a slab that contained lots of meat, not just fat.
And since I didn't want any pig hair with my cracklins, I began the preparation portion by singeing all traces of hair off the slab over a stove burner.
I then used an old dish towel and wiped the singed side when finished. Here are the preparation steps:
1. Slice strips about 3/4 inch wide from the frozen slabs. It’s easier to cut the strips while the slab is partially frozen—that way the knife blade doesn’t hang up in the fat.
2. Then cut the strips into chunks about the size of the “end of your thumb.”
3. Now set the cracklin pot on the burner and fire it up. Start with about an inch of vegetable oil in the pot and heat the oil to about 400 degrees.
4. When the oil temperature is right, gently drop in the slab pieces and cook them—continually stirring—until they turn a golden brown, which should take about 25 minutes.
5. When they’re done, take a wire skimmer, scoop them out of the oil, and place them on several layers of paper towels or brown paper bags which have been lined inside a cardboard soft drink flat.
And now for the “cracklin trick”—“popping them” so that they puff up nice and light.
All you do, after the cracklins have cooled off in the soft drink flat, is increase the heat under the rendered fat once more, “almost to the point of the fat smoking.” Just be sure to control it right here so that the fat doesn’t burn.
Then ever so gently, begin adding the cracklins back to the pot a scoopful at a time. Within minutes, they will “pop” (swell up into an airy chunk of pork rind.) When that happens, immediately scoop them back out of the grease, empty them once again onto the draining paper, and season them right away while they are still untouchably hot!