Here are those alluring and mysterious caramelized pork rinds I mentioned a few posts back. They are much better than they have any right to be: all at once sweet, savory, spicy, salty, chewy and crunchy. Think caramel corn but with pork fat. Pork rinds just by themselves are a joke of a snack, pure bad-for-you in a bag without the payoff to make it worthwhile. (This is contrasted with mass-market snacks like Doritos which aren't pure anything.) Chef Fukushima and Gourmet magazine should be ashamed of themselves for creating this.
CARAMELIZED PORK RINDS
Adapted from Katsuya Fukushima of Minibar, Washington, D.C.
MAKES ABOUT 4 CUPS
ACTIVE TIME: 5 MIN START TO FINISH: 15 MIN
Lowbrow meets highbrow: In this everyday snack food, pork rinds provide the crunch, cayenne provides the heat, and maple syrup creates a fun, almost candylike shell.
1/2 cup dark amber pure maple syrup
1 (5-oz) package fried pork rinds with skin (also called chicharrones)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
• Heat syrup (syrup will barely cover bottom of pot) in a 4- to 6-quart wide heavy pot over moderate heat until large bubbles cover bottom of pot, about 2 minutes. Gently stir in pork rinds with a wooden spoon until coated, then cook, stirring constantly, until rinds are caramelized and a shade darker, 2 to 3 minutes.
• Remove from heat and sprinkle rinds with cayenne and salt, then stir until combined well. Transfer to a large shallow baking pan, spreading out to cool.
COOKS' NOTE: Caramelized pork rinds are best when freshly made but will keep in an airtight container 3 days. Recrisp in a 350°F oven, then cool.