Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cheap Eats: Pork Trimmings

One of the stores that I go to every week often has what they call "pork trimmings" for sale. For not much money, you get a package of mostly pork fat with some bits of meat still attached to it. I've been told that these are the trimmings from pork shoulder/Boston butt roasts and Food Town is the only store where I've ever seen them for sale. The price per pound varies from week to week so when I see them for .59 to .69 cents per pound, I usually pick up a package or two. This week they were .89 cents per pound but I had two packages of them in the freezer from when they were only .59 per pound and decided to cook them today.
 
The way they pile them into the package, you really can't tell what you're going to get. There are occasionally small bones, but not usually. There is also often a fair amount of meat connected to the slabs of fat. This time there was less meat than usual but still enough to use in a recipe.
What I do is separate the meaty bits from the large pieces of fat and save the meat to use in a stir-fry. I roast the fatty bits to get them brown and crispy. They make a nice snack but I can even make a meal of them. They're great right out of the fridge (similar to eating cold fried chicken) and dipped in BBQ sauce. The two packages that I roasted today contained a total of just over 6 1/2 pounds and cost me just under $4.00. I got slightly more than a pound of meat cubes to use for a recipe sometime and the rest I roasted. They shrink like crazy by the time they're done and you'll end up with a huge pool of pork fat. I estimate that I've got about 2 cups of fat left in the pan. I sometimes save the fat for cooking but not when I let it get as browned as I did today. When I want to render fat for cooking, I slowly pan-fry the fat pieces and remove them from the fat before they start to brown.
I cut the pieces of fat into a somewhat larger than bite-size pieces (remember, they're going to shrink a LOT) and spread them in a large, foil-lined roasting pan. I lightly sprinkle them with salt or seasoned salt. You want to go easy on salt at this point or you'll end up with VERY salty cracklings once they shrink down. Roast them at 300-325ยบ for about 2 hours or until they're evenly browned and crispy. After the first hour, I rearrange the pieces so that they cook evenly on all sides. This also helps to keep them from sticking to the foil. When they're done, I take them out of the pan with tongs and lightly sprinkle them with salt. They crisp up as they cool. As you can see, even though they shrunk by more than half, I still ended up with a huge pile of cracklings. My whole family enjoys snacking on these. In fact, my son just went to the fridge and got a plate of "piggy bits" to snack on with his breakfast. Has anyone else seen pork trimmings for sale where you shop? I suspect that you're most likely to find them in ethnic grocery stores.


11 comments :

  1. I haven't either. What a great idea and I bet they are fabulous! -Dawn

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  2. You can also render them in the crock pot. The fat doesn't burn or even darken much. I do this with beef scraps to get beef tallow which is great to cook with. I'm enjoying your blog!

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    1. Do they get crispy in a crock pot? Do you keep the lid off while they cook? I never see beef scraps around here, just pork. Lucky you.

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  3. I keep the lid on. I buy beef tenderloins on sale and trim them myself (it's my husband's favorite and trimming it myself saves at least half the cost, plus the quality is far, far better). The fat pulls off easily in large chunks, so there's not much left in the crock pot when all the fat is rendered -- but the little bits that are left are nice and crispy. I don't know if it would work the same for your pork trimmings or if they might steam rather than fry.

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    1. I thought I'd read somewhere that it's important to remove all of the water from the fat if you want to store it for cooking. I think they said that it will spoil quickly if there's any water in it. I don't see how the water can evaporate in a slow cooker with the lid on. Maybe what I heard was wrong. I think that butter has quite a bit of water in it and it keeps a long time in the fridge.

      Now that I think about it, I think they were using the tallow to make pemmican and they said that the pemmican would go bad if there was any water left in the fat after rendering it. Properly made pemmican keeps indefinitely at room temperature. The beef is dried, ground and mixed with tallow. Maybe this isn't an issue when using the tallow for cooking.

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    2. Fiesta sells pork trimmings. Great for breakfast tacos (corn or flour tortillas). Cut meat and liberal fat trimmings in chunks, simmer slowly with onions, bell peppers and sazon, the more the better (not salty) til tender. Add chunks of cooked potatoes and more sazon to taste. Garnish with cilantro, scrambled eggs, cheese, refried beans, raw onions, salsa etc.. Make large batch, freezes well. Ready when you are. Exercise: : ) , stick to more than your ribs.

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    3. That's an interesting idea, Yummy, but not really low carb. Of course we low carbers can omit the tortillas, potatoes and refried beans. I do like the sound of the meat, fat and peppers part of the recipe as well as most of the toppings.

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  4. I followed your recipe to the letter. I even cooked them an extra hour but they were soggy. I had to throw them out. How do you get them crispy? HELP!!

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    1. Make sure that the pieces are small and that the pan is large enough that they are in a single layer. If they are golden brown, they should be crispy but, if the pieces are very thick, they might still be a bit soft on the inside. They will get more crisp after they have chilled. I like to eat them straight from the fridge. Don't try to reheat them or they will get soft.

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  5. Oh! what a tasty chicharon!
    I love it! <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

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