What Are Pork Rinds, Really?

When I’m on a road trip and I stop to gas up, stretch, and use the facilities, I’m always going to get a snack. Some people may ask, “What if you’re not hungry?” Well, much like Bruce Banner, my secret is that I’m always hungry. And when I peruse the aisles of the convenience store searching for a salty, crunchy treat to satiate my gnawing hunger, a simple chip just won’t suffice. No, I need something that was once alive. I need pork rinds. What’s a pork rind, you ask? I’ll tell you, along with the answers to questions like, how are pork rinds made? What do pork rinds taste like? And what are pork rinds made of? Strap in, it’s going to be a porky ride.

What are pork rinds? 

Pork rind is a culinary term for the skin of a pig. That’s right, pig skin, baby! Pork rinds are made of cooked pig skin. They can be cooked in several ways—usually fried or baked—but the end result is a crunchy, crispy snack that’s kind of like porky potato chips or cheese puffs.

How are pork rinds made? 

Pork rinds are made by first simmering pork skin in boiling water, then cutting them into small, bite-size pieces known as “pellets.” In order for the subdermal fat to solidify, the pellets are chilled. After around four hours, that layer is stripped and thrown away. The fat-less pellets are dried and rendered in order to remove moisture, then put in a low-heat oven or dehydrator for around eight hours. Once they’re good and dry, the pellets are popped into hot oil for about 15 seconds where they puff up. Now you’ve got yourself a pork rind. 

Remember that subdermal fat layer? If you leave that layer on, your pork rind becomes the Southern treat known as a “crackling.” It’s just a pork rind with a little more meat or fat on it. A chicharrón can be a pork rind or a crackling.

What do pork rinds taste like? 

Pork rinds taste porky and salty. They have a crunchy, crisp, and airy texture. They’re kind of like delicious, pork-flavored packing peanuts. But if you are getting fresh, homemade pork rinds, they may taste a bit like the oil they were fried in. Pork rinds also come in different flavors. Right after they’re pulled out the hot oil, the pork rinds are sometimes sprinkled with flavoring agents such as salt, spice rub, barbecue, jalapeno, or something a bit wilder. 
Pork rinds go in and out of style. Sometimes they are the butt of jokes, such as when Homer Simpson is gorging on bagfuls of Pork Rinds Lite. A short time later, they’re pushed as a keto-friendly snack; a carb-free, high protein potato chip alternative. Either way, I’m going to keep eating alarmingly dangerous amounts.

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

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