Wednesday, January 27, 2010

This story crackles me up

Joltin' Django loves him some pork cracklins, aka cracklings. I'm particulaly partial to packages of Brim's Pork Cracklin Strips, like what you see in the above pic.

Bein' a confirmed fan o' cracklins, I do like the sound of this ...

Members of an eastern North Carolina historical organization are trying to stimulate interest in Colonial-era pig preparations they claim the current crop of pork devotees has unfairly overlooked.

"Cracklings have gotten a lot of bad press," sighs Sarah Weeks, a volunteer for the Perquimans County Restoration Association. But she insists, "People can add them to any savory recipe," she insists.

While a few high-end chefs have toyed with cracklings, Weeks would like to shift the crunchy, salty byproduct of rendering lard from the amuse plate to the kitchen pantry. That's why she's enlisted an ally to show up at the association's hog-killing festival this weekend with crackling-streaked biscuits.

Cracklings won't be the only piggy product showcased at the festival: Doug Layden -- whose country market still does a steady business in hoop cheese and Dan Doodles, the sausage-stuffed intestines that eastern North Carolinians plop in their collard green pots – will lead a whole hog-butchering workshop.

The historical association typically focuses on the Colonial period, but Layden's planning to recreate an early 1800s butchering session (minus the slaughter, which will be done out of public view). Weeks explains the group couldn't track down the tools favored by early European settlers.

"They did a lot of things with massive cleavers," Weeks says. "Think about what they used to chop heads off with in medieval times."

Instead, participants will use relatively safer hacksaws to take apart the pig, gradually transforming the animal into sausage, souse and chitterlings. Although only a few local families maintain the centuries-old tradition of festive hog killings, Weeks says the thriving locavore movement has helped draw young eaters to the event, now in its second year.

"There's a lot of interest in this right now," he says.

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