How I Lost Ten Pounds…Eating Chicharron

Chicharron in the Tehuitztla market.

Chicharron in the Tehuitztla market.

Like many American women I used to be obsessed with my weight. When I moved to Mexico I lost ten pounds in six months. My diet changed from sushi, organic everything, lean meats, and mountains of salad, to beans, tortillas, sweet rolls, and caldos and moles full of lard.

My lifestyle went from a walk every day, hours on my feet waiting tables and frequent sessions of Latin dance, to laying in bed reading, sitting around the table bullshitting while eating meals of multiple carbs, and cursory gardening attempts.

I’ve effortlessly kept these ten pounds off for eight years. Though my lifestyle now is healthier that when I first arrived in Mexico, I resumed the walks and eat more vegetables, I’m not as active as I was in Chicago. When I travel to the states for a month I usually gain five pounds, and when I return to Mexico my body dutifully drops it, effortlessly, with no modification of my regular diet of beans, tortillas, Chiliquiles, cheese, eggs, whole milk and…Chicharron.

Though this seems inexplicable, the explanation is simple– I used to eat too much. Even the “healthiest” food will make you fat if you eat more than you need. Now I have no convenience food, I can’t order carry out, we seldom dine out, and I don’t have snacks, no chips, crackers, or baby carrots with “light” ranch dressing.  I eat two meals a day, and it’s plenty. I eat anything I want, I never think of fat or calories; and my weight is perfect for my age and frame. This is not health or dieting advice, just a testimony.

One thing I love to eat, that would have sent me into an anxiety attack in my previous life, is chicharron. If you’re an omnivore and a bacon lover chicharron is for you.

How to buy it: If your local Latin grocery has a large meat section, as they often do, they probably make their own chicharron. Ask for a taste. I don’t recommend the prepackage product, though Dianna Kennedy says there are good ones I couldn’t tell you the brands, and often it is not pig skin, but deep fried wheat, so if you want to investigate read the package carefully.   Chicharron should be absolutely crispy and have no aluminum, or lardy flavor. It should taste salty(though there is unsalted chicharron)  and mildly meaty .  It comes without or without meat. The belly is scored and cubes of meat or fat left attached, or it is cleaned to a thin sheet of skin only. Both are delicious. If it is rendered properly it is almost pure protein.

The classic preparation is chicharron in salsa verde or chilito, though it’s not my favorite because the chicharron gets mushy and takes on a menudo (tripey) flavor. And I wonder, why lose the crunch? My solution is to make it in the traditional way for Felipe, and I eat salsa verde, beans and tortillas with a side of Chicharron.

salsa verde de molcajete

salsa verde de molcajete

 

Salsa Verde (the quick version)

1 pd. tomatillos

1 clove garlic

½ a medium onion

½ cup chopped cilantro

Serrano chili to taste, I usually use four

Salt

1-2 Tbles Vegetable oil or lard

 

Clean the tomatillos of their husks and sticky coating. Just cover in water and bring to a boil. Cook until they turn a grey green and are soft to the touch, but not breaking up. Blend them with the rest of the ingredients to the texture you prefer, I like mine a little chunky.

Heat the oil to medium high and fry the salsa for about three minutes. Add serving, or bite sized pieces of chicharron. Be careful when salting the salsa because the chicharron will release a lot of salt into it. Serve with tortillas and some stiff refried beans.

Probecho!

 

 

 

 

 

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7 thoughts on “How I Lost Ten Pounds…Eating Chicharron

  1. OK, that does it! It is 6:00 a.m. and you have made me incredibly hungry reading this recipe! The only thing not in the house is the chicharron, but I know where to get some l love later today.

    • Ok, so here’s my fav, tortilla, hunk of chicarron, slice of avocado, squeeze of lime, salsa fresca…let sit for a minute or so, so the chicarron just begins to soften. Probecho my friend 🙂

  2. I had to look up what Chicharrons are. I love anything Mexican in food, but had never heard of this. I’ve actually eaten it and enjoy the flavor. I lived in Thailand for 10 years and they sell the same thing with less salt and I loved it. Could buy a large bad for $3.00 but my wife wouldn’t let me eat too much. Great post. I also lost a lot of weight living in Thailand and eating the food there. Here in the state the portions of everything are twice as big as one person needs.

  3. That recipe looks fantastic! I’ve been scaling back my portions for some time. When we eat out I always save half of my food for lunch the next day. We went on a restaurant rampage the past few months, because Portland has amazing food everywhere. But our jeans have definitely gotten tighter so we’re scaling it back. Cooking at home with fresh ingredients is the best way to stay slim. : )

    • I’m sure my jeans would shrink in Portland too. When I was there I went to Mirage, a restaurant that served Mac and Cheese in every form know to man, and oyster shooters. Yummm. Soup is my favorite cut back food. I make a big pot of something satisfying with lots of veggies, then I don’t have to think about it for a few days. Paz to you Britt, eat some oysters for me 🙂

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