My family and I were making these awesome pork tacos for a party that my parents were hosting, and we wound up trimming a ton of fat off the pork butts before we used the meat to make a slow-cooked pork and hatch chili taco that was pretty much out of this world. Rather than just throw all of that yummy goodness away, we decided to render out the fat. I love my fats! Chicken, beef, duck, pork, olive, avocado, coconut, you name it!
To render the fat, we cut the trimmed fat into smaller pieces and put it in a cast iron pan on super low heat. When it looked like it might stick or get any color at all, we added a tiny bit of water. Unfortunately, we were prepping for the party and needed all of our burners, so we set the oven to 200° and put the pan right in there. We left it alone until hours later, when we discovered a pan of beautiful fat and the crispy leftover pieces of pig.
There are definitely a lot of things you could do with those leftover bits, but I decided that I wanted to make chipotle pork salt! Keeping that flavor and sprinkling it on soups, beans, pastas, and whatever else just sounded too good!
So, I put the pork bits in the oven for 4 additional hours at 200° to dry them out a little more. You want to get all of the fat out of the cracklings so that your grinder doesn’t have problems when you’re turning your pork bits to dust.
Then, I broke them into smaller pieces and put them (just a few at a time!) into my spice grinder with almost an equal amount of coarse kosher salt and a small pinch of chili flakes. The pork loses even more fat as the grinder heats it, so you might have to add extra salt. Don’t put too much pork in your grinder! It won’t work. You’ll have wet salt and big chunks of pork. Take your time!
I spread the salt mix on a sheet pan, dusted it with chipotle chili powder (this is where the chipotle pork part happens), and put it in the oven overnight with just the pilot light. The next morning, I put my salt in a jar, and I’m keeping it in my fridge! The salt content is almost certainly high enough to preserve the pork safely even at room temperature, but here in Napa, it’s hot and sunny every day, and that heat gets into my house and stays well into the night. When it comes to pork, I like to err on the side of caution.
Good news! Chipotle pork salt is good on everything! So far, I’ve sprinkled it on a white bean soup, I tossed some in with an arugula and cucumber salad, I made some home made (gluten free, of course) tortellini with mushrooms that tasted pretty darn good with a little pork salt on top, and I even dusted some cottage cheese with it, just to test the theory that pork salt makes everything a little more fun. It turns out, I was right!