Growing up in NYC cuchifritos restaurants have always been a staple of the community. Whether it’s The Bronx Harlem, or my neighborhood Corona, Queens(shout out to La Cabana) you know you can get a great meal at a great price from your local cuchifrito spot. Most of the time these restaurants have a very large menu of various fried foods. I usually get pateles, mofongo, alcappurias or empanadas but my favorite thing to eat at a cuchifrito restaurant is chicharrones de cerdo which is deep fried pork belly. The crispy layers of pork crackling and meat are like heaven with a side of pickled red onions and tostones.
A few tips for making chicharrones. In the many Caribbean countries it’s a tradition to wash your meat in a mixture of vinegar, lime juice and water. Not only is it a great way cleanse your meat of any unwanted germs and bacteria it also adds a great flavor.
Another very important tip is to remove the excess liquid from your chicharrones after boiling them. If you don’t get most of the liquid off the meat, it was cause the oil to pop and create a huge mess. You can even boil the chicharrones the night before and let them dry overnight in the fridge. This will make the skin extra crispy.
4 pounds pork belly
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Juice of 1 lime
10 cups water
In a large bowl combine oregano, salt, garlic powder and lime juice. Add pork belly to bowl and gently massage marinade in to meat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Set aside to rest for 15 minutes.
In a large heavy pot add water and marinated pork belly. Over high heat bring to a boil. Once at a boil switch to a medium high heat. Continue cooking until all the water has evaporated. Transfer pork belly to sheet pan lined with paper towels. Use paper towels to remove any excess liquid on pork belly. Let pork belly cool for 30 minutes. Meanwhile in a cast iron pot or Dutch oven heat 2-3 inches of oil to 375 degrees.
Cut pork belly into 2 in cubes. When oil is hot fried pork until golden brown. Be aware oil will pop due to liquid in pork belly so use a splatter screen. Remove pork belly with tongs or a slotted spoon transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Serve immediately!