LOUISIANA- An estimated 500 people showed up to Mama Odie's Easter Sunday pork cracking dinner. The menu was composed of only pork cracking and beer.
The dinner was followed by a Run/Walk pig Trot to see who would be the winner of a pig skinned jacket donated to the Odie foundation by an Italian clothing designer.
Most people don't know how pork crackling are made but Mama Odie explains how to make them at home.
"I knows pork crackling like the back of my old, shoe heels," said Odie.
Twenty-four of Odie's volunteers helped her to first dry the pork skins so moisture can be removed from the pig skins and this helps the dry pig skins puff up like popcorn when dipped in hot oil.
The process is easier than most people expect, says Odie. She uses a flat rotisserie basket to hold the pig skin in place while drying in her home oven, so each piece comes out flat without curling up. This creates a more even cooking of the pork rind. Traditionally her mother would just toss the pieces of pork skin on a flat pan and dried them in the oven then she would toss them in hot oil and they would come out great, but Odie said she has tried to innovate to improve the process.
"I first salt the pig skin, before drying, to help extract moisture and season them before frying," said Odie.
After salting the whole pig skin she cuts it into two inch square pieces and lays them together on the flat rotisserie basket, pressing them flat. She then puts them in the oven to dry at the lowest temperature, so they can dry without burning. "They ready for frying when they appear translucent and get darker in color because they free of moisture," said Odie.
Odie explains that once the pork skins are fairly hard she takes them out and lets them cool for about an hour before dipping them in hot oil. Putting them in the freezer helps cool them faster. When dipped in the hot oil, it takes a few seconds before they become puffy and light and float to the surface.
After they inflate, in the oil, she presses them down into the hot oil a few times and removes them before they burn and discolor. "There aint nothing worse that a burnt flavored pork crackling," said Odie.
After removing them from the oil, she lets them dry for two hours on large paper napkins to suck up any extra oil they have on them. This two hour drying releases more moisture out of them, so they could be crunchy and crispy.
Most of the people at her pork crackling dinner proclaim that home made cracklings taste better because they're fresh without preservatives. Raw pork skins would have to be purchased over the internet or at a specialty store to make pork cracking at home said one guest.