Chicharones

Some friends invited me and my partner to accompany them to visit a family in Sonora on Sunday. The friends don’t live very far across the line but have a rancho further south, which was the final destination.

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I thought we were just going to visit the ranch for awhile, but boy was I wrong. The purpose of the visit was to make chicharones and have lunch.

Raul has a collection of skulls.

Raul has a collection of skulls.

Chicharones are a fried pork rind. What we had was pork skin with chunks of meat attached to some of the pieces. Until last year, I had been a quasi-vegetarian. Chicharones were not on my list of favorite foods.

First, Maggie got out her huge copper pot. I’d seen pots like it for sale along the road in Sonora but never realized what they were for. Raul made the fire, and Maggie set the pot on top of the fire, adding a few scoops of water from the water barrel. The scoop was an old plastic Folgers container.

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Then the two of them began dumping the pork rinds into the pot. After about four bags of rinds, I thought they’d put them all in, but no. They added about the same amount again. They must have dumped about twenty-five to thirty pounds of pork into the copper pot.

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Then it all began to boil, and Raul started stirring the meat. Stirring thirty pounds of meat takes a large instrument! In this case, it was a paddle-shaped piece of wood about four feet long and four inches wide. All the men took turns stirring the pot. Even Em gave it a shot, but she soon settled in helping Maggie peel the garlic.

Alfredo the chicharonero.

Alfredo the chicharonero (chicharone maker).

Raul checks out the garlic as Em and Maggie peel away.

Raul checks out the garlic as Em and Maggie peel away.

While the men stirred the meat, we women-folk wandered about visiting the horse, Canela, and the two calves. Both calves were only a few months old, and the male was striking, with a heart-shaped white spot on his forehead.

Espiritu (Spirit) has a heart on his forehead.

Espiritu (Spirit) has a heart on his forehead.

Soon the water had boiled away, and the chicharones were cooking in their own fat. Maggie added jalapeños and garlic and a generous amount of salt. The chicharones cooked and the men stirred for several hours.

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Finally, they were done!

 

Maggie scooped pots full of chicharones and drained them in a colander. She must have ended up with a few gallons of pork fat.

Maggie is pressing the excess oil out of the meat.

Maggie is pressing the excess oil out of the meat.

Out came the tortillas, the fresh salsa cruda, some stuffed poblano chiles, beer, and soda. We dove in.

No photo of the burritos we made because I was too busy eating!

Beautiful ending to a beautiful day.

Beautiful ending to a beautiful day.

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