Cooking Louisiana  -  Cracklin
This is my first shot at Cracklin (Cracklings). Cracklin is the South Louisiana term so when you see a sign that says "Cracklin" it's not a misspelling. Cracklings, cracklin, whatever. You know what they are. As I get better at this I'll modify the recipe.

CracklinYou should seek out a slaughterhouse to get your cracklin material.

I'm going to start with 2-1/2 lbs. of raw cracklin fat (the material). As you see in the picture you want to get material that has meat on it. I got this batch from Babineaux's s Slaughterhouse in Breaux Bridge. I deal with Babineaux's because it's the closest for me. Cracklin already cooked down here goes for $9.00/lb.

Cut the material as needed to get about 1-1/4" X 1-1/4" pieces if yours does not come pre-cut. It doesn't have to be perfect. The final size once cooked will be about 1/2 the size of the raw pieces.

First of all you're going to do this OUTSIDE preferably out in the yard away from anything that could catch fire. There is a great risk of fire and grease burns with this process so get your deep and large black-iron pot and use your turkey fryer burner to make this happen. Grease will splatter so some grass is going to die or the concrete will get oily.

I'm going to start with 2 lbs. of lard. Not Crisco, not Canola oil... Lard. This amount is good for my pot; it may not be for yours

The beginning will involve rendering a lot of the fat out of the material. I will do this on a 250ºF fire. When doing this part be ready to stir constantly as it will want to stick once the water cooks out.

Here we go...

CracklinLight the fire (medium). Put the lard and 1 cup of water in the pot. When the grease gets to about 200ºF add the meat. Get the grease up to about 250ºF and try to keep it there. This will be hot enough to render the fat and not burn the oil. I found that the lower temperature also keeps sticking to a minimum. Stir every five minutes or so. Stay with it...

After the water is cooked off keep cooking until the bubbles almost stop; this could take an hour or more.

You'll notice that the more you cook them the hotter the grease will get. Try to keep the grease below 325ºF until they are done.

Take the cracklin out and put it on some paper towels with newspaper below. Shake them around a little. Let the cracklin cool for about 15 minutes.

You're going to fry the Cracklin again to make the skin pop.

Rendering the fat will produce more oil. Judge how much oil you have in the pot against how much oil you'll need when you put the cracklin back in. Take out what you think you don't need. You just need enough to float the Cracklin.

This next step is going to get messy and dangerous. Keep the kids at a distance and be sure this is outside... please. Your oil level in your pot should be about 1/4 full, that's it. If it's more than that you're going to have a fire hazard.

Heat the oil back up to about 365ºF. Once the oil is up to temp put the cracklin back in and let them start to fry again. Get the oil back up to 365ºF then turn off the fire. That's in case the grease boils over to the point it hits the flame.

Now put one cup of ice in the oil. It's going to roar and pop within about 3 seconds.. stand back. The ice makes the skin pop and softens it so it chews easier. Again, this is going to be a violent reaction when the ice is added... stay clear!

Once it all settles down relight the fire and cook for about 5 minutes and take them out. Don't let the oil get over 350ºF.

Put them in a pan with a new batch of newspaper and paper towels. Lightly season with Tony's and salt and move the pan around briskly to absorb the liquid fat. Put in a paper bag next with paper towels and shake every few minutes. This will help get even more liquid fat out.

Let cool to room temperature then put in a glass jar and close the lid. This preserves them very well. Oh, you can eat them if you want too!

The picture below is Cracklin that is not done yet. Notice the fat is still partially white.


The final result. They're okay but not as good as the ones down the street!