Pork Cracklings and Yuca Fries (Chicharrones y Yuca)

Pork Cracklings and Yuca Fries (Chicharrones y Yuca)
Salt and pepper
3 lbs pork belly
cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 tsp baking soda
Oil for frying
3 lbs yuca root
(about 3-4 roots)
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups diced tomatoes
1 each sweet small chili pepper
minced (or ¼ of bell pepper)
2 tbsp minced cilantro stems
1 each bay leaf
1/4 cup water or stock
1/4 bunch cilantro
1 each onion
Chopped cilantro
Lime wedges
  • Fry basket
  • fry pot
For the Cracklings
Season cubed pork with salt and pepper and baking soda.
Heat fry oil to 350 F, fry in small batches until brown and crispy about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and season with salt and pepper.
For the Yuca Fries
Heat water in a large stockpot and salt heavily.
Peel yuca by cutting them into 3-4 inch rounds. For each round, gently score the skin lengthwise past the waxy bark and into the white layer of skin from the yuca. The white layer is the same color as the inside, but you’ll be able to peel it off.
Split in half crosswise, remove the stringy fiber in the middle, and cut into ¾ inch batons. Boil yuca for 15 minutes, drain and let sit so that the water can be evaporated. The yuca will fray a bit.
While the yuca is cooling and the water is evaporating, heat oil to 350 F in a fryer or large frying pot. Adjust flame to maintain temperature. Add yuca and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and season with salt. Serve with the chicharrones!
For the Salsa Criolla
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
When the oil is hot, saute onion and peppers until soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, dried oregano, and minced cilantro stems and stir until fragrant, add tomato paste and mix for another 2 minutes until caramelized. Add tomatoes, bay leaf and stock and let simmer for at least 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat and allow to cool. Remove the bay leaf.
Puree the cooled mixture in a blender or food processor. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Mix in chopped cilantro. If you like a spicier sauce, add a pinch of chili flakes or cayenne pepper.