Bolivian Pork Chicharron (Chicharrón) is a traditional dish in Bolivia. It is usually served with mote, llajua, potatoes or chuño. In Spanish, it’s called Chicharrón de Cerdo or Chicharrón de Chancho, both mean Pork Chicharrón.
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Trying Chicharron For The First Time
I met my husband about 18 years ago (at the time of writing this post) here in Miami. He is from Bolivia and I’m from Albania. In the early months of dating, he took me to a Bolivian organized event here in Miami with Bolivian music, dance and food. That’s where I first tried chicharron!!
I got to visit Bolivia in 2011 and it was really a culinary awakening. The food there is out of this world. Of course, one of the dishes I tried first was chicharron:). I can’t wait to be able to go back and take our kids there too.
What is Chicharron Exactly?
Chicharron usually referrs to fried pork belly or pork rinds in Spanish speaking countries with differences on how it’s cooked in each of them. If you hear just the word chicharron, it usually refers to pork meat. However, you can also make chicharron with chicken or beef but then it has to be specified what type of chicharron it is.
I’m fascinated by all the variations of chicharron in different countries. In Bolivia, chicharron is made from pork shoulder or pork ribs with enough meat on them. Meat is cut in small cubes with lots of fat on them. The idea is to fry the meat in its own fat after it’s done cooking.
Recipe Notes & Tips
One of the side dishes for pork chicharron is a large grain, white corn called mote. Mote is a typical corn in the Andean region of the South America. When you refer to just the grains, that’s in Spanish is called Mote Pelado. I was able to buy mote at a local Hispanic grocery store. But you can find mote online too.
Mote doesn’t cook as fast as regular corn. I usually leave mote in a bowl of water overnight than cook it the next day for about an hour or so until the it is soft to eat.
Seasoning the Pork
The below picture shows in one view all the seasonings used to cook the pork. Start by cutting pork into cubes of about 1-2 inches with fat on them. Don’t remove the fat like you’d normally do when cooking pork meat. For this dish you do need the fat!!
Season the pork cubes with oregano, cumin, pepper, salt and garlic. Lemon juice and beer will be used once pork is cooked.
Place seasoned pork on a medium size pot. Pour water until you can cover the pork with it then add the mint leaves and turn heat to high. Once the water start boiling, lower heat to medium and let cook until water evaporates.
At that point, pork is cooked and you need to fry it. That’s where the fat comes in play. Increase the heat a little bit and start stirring the pork chunks so they don’t stick to bottom. As the pork cooks, it releases fat and you will fry the pork in its own fat until golden brown on all sides.
Finally, add beer and lemon juice to the pot and mix well to seal the flavors and create the crunchy, flavorful exterior so typical of the chicharron. In Bolivia, they also use chicha instead of beer.
Bolivian Pork Chicharron
- Medium pot
- 2 lbs pork usually pork shoulder with fat, cut in cubes
- 14 ozs mote corn grains
- 8 small potatoes ( I prefer honey gold) usually plan 2 potatoes per serving
- 1 cup beer
- 3 tbsps freshly squeezed lemon I usually squeeze half a lemon
- 6-8 fresh mint leaves
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tbsp dry oregano
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp salt
- Soak mote in water overnight.
- Boil mote in a pot of water for over an hour until soft enough to eat. Depending on the mote, it can take up to 2 hrs to cook properly so check occasionally after the first hour. Also, boil potatoes (skin on) until you can pierce them in another pot.
- Cut pork in cube shapes that have some fat in them. Season thoroughly with minced garlic, salt, pepper, cumin and oregano.
- Add pork to a deep pot, cover with water and add mint leaves. Cook on a high heat until it boils then lower heat to medium.
- Once water evaporates, start stirring pork around so it can release its own fat while cooking. As fat melt, the pork pieces will start frying in their own fat. Cook until golden brown on all sides. Add beer and lemon and give it few more stirs for the juices to coat the pork pieces. It will seal the flavors in.
- Serve with cooked mote, potatoes and llajua salsa.
- Calories are estimated based on a fitness app. Calories can vary based on how much fat there is in each piece of meat.
- I prefer using honey gold potatoes but my husband prefers red potatoes. In Bolivia I’ve seen this dish served with chuno (frozen dehydrated potatoes) or purple potatoes.
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More Bolivian Recipes:
Check out additional Bolivian recipes from my blog below. They’re usually adapted to ingredients I can find in the United States.