USE YER' RINDS!
It has always shocked me just how many people throw away food. Be it off-cuts, bones, fat, or even offal. I’ve even seen some chefs (!) use twenty lovely looking chickens with the heads, necks, gizzard, heart and liver nicely packed in a bag for them which is deposited on the inside of the crown. Rather than receive this gift with good grace and pleasure, I’ve seen it being swiftly and efficiently dispatched into the bin in much the same way one would empty water out of a mop bucket. It’s as if the bits that don’t constitute what one would generally call ‘chicken’ have no value. In my experience more often than not the opposite is true. The pieces often disregarded are often the most rewarding to cook. Bacon rind is a classic example of this. If you’ve gone to the trouble of sourcing the best bacon you can you may resent having to take the trouble of trimming this hardened peel from the outer edge of your rasher. Secondly, you might think that you are immediately losing some of your highly prized produce before you’ve even had a chance to taste it! Fear not as this need not become landfill. All you need to do is…now pay attention because this is the technical bit…cook it!
I know…genius isn’t it?!
In fairness perhaps it’s not easy to realise that what you have on your chopping board is essentially crackling. Most of us experience crackling as a by-product of cooking a roast joint of pork, despite a great number preferring it to the meat itself, but don’t think of cooking for its own sake. In my mind there’s nothing better to add a little texture to a meal, much in the same way you might use croutons on a salad or floating on the surface of a soup.
For best results follow the method below;
Put your skin/bacon rinds in the freezer for around 10 minutes or so until starting to stiffen up.
Turn the oven up to 220C. Add a little hot water to a deep tray and put it in the bottom of the oven. This steam will improve the overall conduction of heat (this is also a great tip if you’re roasting anything in the oven, just mind out that it’s not TOO steamy as if you go overboard you may end up with a bit of a soggy meal. It takes a little practise to get right but worth the trouble.)
Once the oven is hot enough, place the rinds/skin on wire rack on top of a tray. It’ s helpful to cover the bottom of this with some tin foil to catch any fat that might drip down.
Place this in the oven and 5 minutes later (if your using bacon rinds, whole pieces of skin might take a little longer) you’ll have some nice puffed-up ready-seasoned (the bacon has been through the curing process) little pig sticks! You can either just enjoy these as they are with abeer, or crush them up and use as a textural component on any dish you care to mention.