3 of a Kind: Chicharrones Beyond Pork


3 of a Kind checks out three places across the country to try something cool, new and delicious.

There’s some kind of magic that happens when pork fries into crisp, puffy bits of pure deliciousness. Call them pork rinds, cracklings or chicharrones — it’s all good. But chefs are taking it one step further, transforming chicken, fish skin and even beef tendon to make other kinds of crunchy chicharrones.

Crispy Chicken Skins with Smoked Honey at Carson Kitchen, Las Vegas

Fried chicken was a family staple for Carson Kitchen owner and co-founder Cory Harwell during his childhood in the South, with his grandmother making the comforting dish every Sunday. But there was one part of the bird in particular that the young Harwell just couldn’t resist. He used to get in trouble for sneaking into the kitchen and stealing the skin off the fried chicken before it was even served.

“I would literally leave a piece of chicken sitting there on the platter with no skin on it!” Harwell recalls. “When I built Carson Kitchen, I wanted to bring that one special thing to our menu.” Finding the right technique took some time and about 40 pounds of experimentation. The skins are served with a little smoked honey as another nod to Harwell’s deep Southern roots. The unbeatable combination makes for a dish that has been in the restaurant’s top-five items sold since day one.

Salmon Ceviche with Salmon Chicharrones at Tico, Washington, D.C.

The raw and the cooked come together in this colorful fish-forward creation. Says Chef George Rodrigues, “When I’m thinking about a new dish, I always like to incorporate a textured garnish.” Instead of discarding the salmon skin, he transformed it into chicharrones by applying the same technique he uses to make a more traditional pork-skin version. “It is our job as chefs to utilize as much of the animal as possible,” Rodrigues explains. “I was able to play with taste and texture while also minimizing waste.”

Beef Tendon Chicharrones at Mistral, Princeton, N.J.

Chef Ben Nerenhausen’s elevated take on chicarrones comes served with beet tartare, bone marrow cream, mustard and dill. The form of the dish may be new, but the flavors are classic. “I just liked the similarity of color, texture and sound that beets and beef had to one another,” Nerenhausen explains.

Though the tartare is beet-centric, the integration of the tendons and bone marrow cream adds a beefy element to the dish. “I think that helped to give the illusion of having a real beef tartare without there being any actual raw beef on the plate,” Nerenhausen says.

Related Links:

Photos courtesy of Jeff Ragazzo, Tico and Mistral

Next Up

3 of a Kind: Togarashi

Feeling the heat? Check out a chile-laced spice blend that is elevating everything from cheesecake to cocktails.

3 of a Kind: Baijiu

Find out which celebratory liquor is joining vodka, gin and the rest of the crew as a popular spirit.

3 of a Kind: Scraps

Sending something to the scrapheap used to mean dooming it to its demise, but restaurants across the country are now making the most of scraps, turning carrot tops, bread butts, corn silks and more into incredible dishes that are worth saving and sav

3 of a Kind: Shakshouka

Shakshouka is a savory egg entree made with tomatoes, peppers and onions that's popular in Israel. Here are a few creative ways it's being adapted by chefs in America.

3 of a Kind: Cascara Drinks

With the flavor of an herbal tea and a java-like jolt of caffeine, cascara is a refreshing, energizing and waste-free alternative to coffee. Here are three places using it in cool ways.

3 of a Kind: Curry Cocktails

Curry has become one of the more popular flavors in mixology, adding an unexpected twist to classic cocktails.

3 of a Kind: Fermented Salads

Chefs are using pickled vegetables and fermented dressings to create tangy twists on typical salads.

3 of a Kind: Kombucha Cocktails

Kombucha is popping up on cocktail menus across the country. Here are three places to try it.

3 of a Kind: Udon Shops

Udon — the chewier and plumper cousin to the ramen noodle — is slurping its way into the spotlight at these three shops.

3 of a Kind: Popped Sorghum

Sorghum, a gluten-free, ancient grain popular in the South, has been steadily gaining ground as the new "it" grain of choice for chefs.

Related Pages