A smoking good experience

By admin | June 23rd, 2010

This past Saturday I received a telephone call from a neighbor and friend on Jaramillo, another neighbor was slaughtering a pig and had fresh pork for sale. Loving the challenge and having had some experience in carving up a dearly departed hog, Mayra and I went on a short ride to acquire a shoulder and side of pork. This happy hog lived his life without drugs, hormones or any form of un-natural influences and we wanted to find a fitting Panamanian culinary salute for his demise.

We quickly separated the ribs, the meat and the skin. Our first mission was the skin and that would need to wait one day for Fathers Day, June 20th. Fathers Day, like mothers day, is a big deal in Panama. When they can, families gather to celebrate and we were going to Bugaba, rural, very rural Bugaba, a District near the Costa Rican border where Mayra’s parents live on a dairy farm.

Mayra suggested that the pork skin would be a welcome addition to what turned out to be a massive Fathers Day feast. On Sunday I watched and photographed the process of making both chicharrones and smoked pork (puerco ahumado).

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The first step was separating meat I left attached to the pork skin from the skin, apparently I left a lot of meat.

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The meat was seasoned with salt, some sweet peppers and a little vinegar and placed above a smoky wood fire in a smoke house for several hours. Nothing more to it, fresh pork, fresh smoke, great taste.

The skin was placed into a large kettle and put over a wood fire, then cooked covered for some time to allow the moisture in the skin to steam the skin.
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The top was removed and the skin continued to cook in the rendered lard.

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Mayras father took the task of stirring to keep things from burning. The result is below, a real Panamanian health food, hot, chewy chicharrones, rendered and bathed in their own fat. The only warning is eat at your own risk because I’ll bet you can’t just eat one.

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