AskDefine | Define crackling

Dictionary Definition

crackling n : the sharp sound of snapping noises [syn: crackle, crepitation]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Noun

  1. (gastronomy) Fat that, after roasting a joint, hardens and crispens.

Verb

crackling
  1. present participle of crackle

Extensive Definition

Pork rind (known as pork scratchings in the United Kingdom) is the skin of a pig. Cooked, this may be either eaten warm with a meal, or served cold as a snack. In both forms, any fat attached to the skin of pig at the time of frying is absorbed in the process.

Pork rind as a snack

When used as a snack food, chunks of cured pork skins are deep-fried and puffed into light, irregular curls, and often seasoned with chili pepper or barbecue flavoring.
Microwavable pork rinds are sold which are microwaved in bags that resemble microwave popcorn (although not exhbiting the 'popping' sound) and can be eaten still warm. Pickled pork rinds, on the other hand, are often enjoyed refrigerated and cold. Unlike the crisp and fluffy texture of fried pork rinds, pickled pork rinds are very rich and buttery, much like foie gras. Unfried pork rind is also processed into colorful and appealing shapes for use as fish bait.
When he was in the White House, U.S. President George H. W. Bush said that pork rinds were his favorite snack.

Health issues

Though generally considered junk food and among the unhealthiest of foods, there is some interest in pork rinds as an alternative snack food due to the Atkins diet, since pork rinds contain no carbohydrates (unless flavored). They are, however, high in fat and sodium. The fat content of pork rinds is similar to that of potato chips, but the amount of sodium in a serving of pork rinds is nearly five times that of a serving of potato chips.
For example, a 14 gram serving of Utz Regular Pork Rinds contains 5 g of fat and 230 mg of sodium, whereas the same serving of Utz Regular Potato Chips contains 4.5 g of fat and 47 mg of sodium. Pork rinds generally contain 8 g of protein in a 14 g serving, more than most foods except dried meats such as jerky. The fat content of jerky, however, is much lower. Microwaveable pork rinds are lower in fat than the deep-fried variety, with only 2 g of fat per 14 g serving and no saturated fat, although the sodium level may be as high as 350 mg per serving. According to the logic of the Atkin's diet, the high protein content of pork rinds makes them more nutritious than some low-fat snack foods, such as fat-free pretzels.
According to Men's Health:
A 1-ounce (=28.35g) serving contains zero carbohydrates, 17 grams (g) of protein, and 9 g fat. That's nine times the protein and less fat than you'll find in a serving of carb-packed potato chips. Even better, 43 percent of a pork rind's fat is unsaturated, and most of that is oleic acid — the same healthy fat found in olive oil. Another 13 percent of its fat content is stearic acid, a type of saturated fat that's considered harmless, because it doesn't raise cholesterol levels.
Another thing to consider, however, is that deep-frying creates large amounts of advanced glycation endproducts, which are very damaging to the body.
Moreover, although there is a high protein content present in pork rinds, the quality of that protein, called hydrolyzed gelatin protein, is quite low. Because they have a protein efficiency ratio lower than 40% as dictated by the FDA, their nutrition label usually states "0%" in % Daily Value or "Not a significant source of protein" as recommended by the FDA. More beneficial and complete proteins can often be found in higher quality foods with significantly lower protein content.

Origin

The consensus is that pork scratchings originated as scraps of a pig that were left over.
Sometimes the fine layer of hair is removed from the skin by burning; however this is not completely effective and some pieces still have the hair attached.
Butchers started selling pork scratchings in the 1930s, and more recently a product called pork crunch has been developed, in which much of the fat is scraped off, resulting in a lower-fat, softer alternative.

Variations

Canada

Scrunchions is a Newfoundland term for small pieces of pork rind or pork fat-back fried until rendered and crispy. They are often used as a flavoring over other foods, such as salt fish and potatoes. It is mainly used as a condiment for fish and brewis. http://www.heritage.nf.ca/dictionary/azindex/pages/3947.html http://www.billcasselman.com/canadian_food_words/cfw_two.htm
In Quebec, they are often called "Oreilles de Christ" (christ ears) or "Oreilles de crisse", and are eaten almost exclusively as a condiment for traditional meals with maple syrup.

United Kingdom

Pork Crackling is the British name for the salted crunchy pork rind produced when roasting a joint of pork. The heat of the oven causes the fatty pork skin to dry, bubble up and become crunchy. The layer of fat underneath is retained, and can be eaten with the skin or removed. Some supermarkets now sell just the layer of skin and fat (no meat), in a raw form for home grilling or roasting.
Pork Scratchings is the British name for deep fried salted crunchy pork rind with fat produced separately from the meat. This is then eaten cold.
Pork Scratchings are typically heavy, hard and have a crispy layer of fat under the skin, some still retain the hair of the pig, and are flavored only with salt. The pig hair is usually removed by quickly burning the skin of the pig before it is cut into pieces and cooked in hot fat. Hair removal is not 100% effective which is why some retain a few hairs. The hairs are what usually makes people question the desirability of these pub snacks, but to some, these can also be highly desirable.
In the United Kingdom, pork scratchings (though not crackling — see above) are sold as a snack food in the same way pork rinds are in the USA. Unlike the physically large, but relatively light bags of 'deep fried skin without the fat' sold around the world, in the UK they are sold in relatively small bags which usually weigh between 42g and 90g. Traditionally they are eaten as an accompaniment to a pint of beer in a pub, just like crisps or peanuts. Fewer and fewer pubs stock scratchings as the years go by. One sign of a traditional pub is the availability of Pork Scratchings. Scratchings can also be bought from butchers, supermarkets or newsagents.
They have been taken to both the North Pole and South Pole on various expeditions, this is due to their lack of weight and high amount of energy which is essential on these types of trips.
They have been popular in the UK and especially in the Black Country since the times when families would fatten up a "tunkey pig" (This is a pig fattened especially for Christmas), then slaughter it for meat and slice the skin with the fat into strips which they would then deep fry. Some believe that their popularity grew in the early 1800s when new uses were found for offcuts from pigs.
In the UK, the term 'pork rind' usually refers to the uncooked layer of skin on bacon or a joint of pork. Many people choose to cut the raw rind off their bacon before cooking it.

United States

Cracklings is the American name for pork rind produced by frying or roasting, though it can be expanded to include the skin of a goose or another animal. Pieces of fried meat, skin, or membrane produced as a byproduct of rendering lard are also called cracklings.
As a snack, cracklings is usually understood to consist of cooked pork rind that has had salt rubbed into it and that has been scored with a sharp knife. This produces a crisp, bubbly outer surface with a layer of cooked fat on the underside. Crackling is considered by some to be an essential part of joint of roast pork. However, the term in cooking also applies to a variety of fatty materials, fried to crispness, such as poultry skin or the remains of trying out for fat of a number of animal products [beef, lamb, etc.].
A cracklin is a fried piece of pork fat with a small amount of attached skin. Cracklin is generally considered to be part of soul food or Cajun cuisine. Cracklins are not frequently served as part of a regular meal unless they are served in cracklin bread, which is cornbread in which cracklins have been placed in the batter prior to its being baked or fried. Rather, they are a snack item which would typically be served at times other than regular mealtimes, and are regarded as more of a delicacy or treat.
Cracklins are naturally very high in fat and cholesterol, which is to be expected considering what they are composed of and the fact that they are generally prepared by being deep- or skillet-fried in lard. Cracklins prepared by persons who conduct the home butchering of hogs, which is still occasionally conducted in the rural South although with decreasing frequency, have a decidedly different taste from those which are distributed nationally or internationally.
In the early 1960s the FDA implemented new rules regarding the commercial preparation and sale of cracklins, and the availability of the traditional cracklins diminished rapidly. Today's commercial versions, which are light and airy, bear little resemblance in either appearance or taste to the old-fashioned cracklins which used to be available from local butchers and supermarkets. The new version is heavily fried and light in taste compared to the older cracklins, which are greasy and occasionally have hair still attached to the fried flesh and fat combination.
Many aficionados much prefer the original variety of cracklins which today sometimes can be found in small enclaves, such as the Amish, who still prepare the product using traditional methods. But the Amish are reluctant to sell them to outsiders, unless they know them personally, due to the newer federal rules.

Europe

In France they are known as grattons. In Spain they are called cortezas de cerdo when they don't have any solid fat attached and chicharrones or torreznos when they do. In Portugal, you must distinguish between torresmos (like the picture in the top of the article) and couratos, these ones are normally on sale from stands near large popular gatherings, such as football stadiums, usually in a sandwich presentation, and are accompanied with a well chilled beer. In The Netherlands they are known as knabbelspek, which translates to 'munching bacon' and usually no flavourings other than salt are added. As the name implies, they are usually eaten as a snack food. They are sold at most butchers and supermarkets. In Denmark they are known as "flæskesvær" ("flæsk" means pork, "svær" means rind) and can be found in most grocery stores and kiosks.

Hungary

In Hungary they are known as 'tepertő' or 'töpörtyű'. It is a very popular food still. They are fried in lard usually and eaten when its hot with huge slices of bread and spring onion. This a very traditional food in Hungary connected to peasant cookery. They first remove the hair then cut it to small pieces and fry. Pork scratchings are also available at shops as some of them make them still.

Serbia and Croatia

In these countries, pork rinds are called čvarci and they are a popular home-made peasant food in the lowland, Pannonian regions. They are not cooked but fried in a lot of fat instead. The skin may or may not be attached, but any hair is generally removed.
Čvarci are most often made during the traditional slaughter of pigs in Croatia and Serbia, when they are also first tasted by the participants.
A special kind of čvarci exists in Serbia called duvan čvarci (lit. "tobacco cracklings"): it is made by pressing čvarci during the preparation so that at the end they have appearance of tobacco.

Latin America

Pork rinds are also popular in Latin America. In Spanish-speaking countries they are known as chicharrones (the singular form, chicharrón, is also used as a mass noun). They are eaten alone as a snack, or as the meat portion in various stews and soups, which can be eaten with cachapas, or as a stuffing in arepas, pupusas, or in a taco or gordita with salsa verde.
They are usually made with different cuts of pork, but sometimes with other meats, like poultry, beef, ram, etc. In Cuba, Puerto Rico and Venezuela chicharrones are also made with chicken and, in Argentina with beef. In these cases they are consumed mostly as snacks.
In Brazil, pork rinds (called torresmo in Portuguese) are eaten as snack with beer, or as a side to some dishes, like feijoada.
The cueritos type is a Mexican snack. It is made with pork skins and marinated in vinegar instead of being deep fried. They are eaten as a snack.
In the Island of Utila, in Honduras, it is deep fried in a huge pot at the beach on Sundays, and is garnished with fried green plantains or fried breadfruit and coleslaw.
In Mexico and the USA, snack-food companies have commercialized a vegetarian version of the deep-fried type, with chile and lime flavorings.

Philippines

Fried pork skins go by various names in Filipino cuisine like tsitsaron from the Spanish word chicharrón. They may be referred to by their English name "cracklings" if they contain a considerable portion of meat. Another form of crackling in the Philippines, tsitsarong manok, is made from seasoned chicken skin fried in its own rendered fat. Usually, pork rinds are eaten to absorb the sourness of some types of Filipino stews and soups like sinigang or paksiw. Though the pork present in these dishes do have rinds, they are not strictly considered as snacks.
Crunchy pork rinds are one of the more popular choices for finger foods, locally called pulutan, during drinking sessions. They are served with a spicy vinegar dip. A popular beer snack is tsitsarong bulaklak ("flower" crackling) which is fried chitterlings (pork intestines).

References

External links

crackling in Czech: Škvarky
crackling in Spanish: Chicharrón
crackling in Italian: Ciccioli
crackling in Dutch: Zwoerd
crackling in Polish: Skwarki
crackling in Portuguese: Torresmo
crackling in Russian: Шкварки
crackling in Serbian: Чварци
crackling in Tagalog: Tsitsaron
crackling in Ukrainian: Шкварки
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