Wednesday, October 26, 2011


These are scrunchions.  They're a bit like pork rinds.

"Pork rind" simply means pork skin.  It can refer to the fresh, raw skin cut from a side of pork, but more commonly it means pig skin that has been rendered and fried crisp.  It is actually the same as crackling, though commercially-produced pork rinds are much more delicate than the crackling that develops on oven-roasted pork.

Scrunchions are made by a similar process, but they're made of raw pork fat, not skin.  I can't figure out how frying pure back fat results in a crisp product, but it does.  Scrunchions are one of the finer components of Newfie cuisine, along with chow-chow, screech, and saltfish.

Like so many kitchen preparations, the snack pictured above was a happy accident.  I had not planned on making scrunchions that day.  Rather, I was cooking a large rib roast.  My haggard butchery had left a slender flap of back fat hanging off the roast in the dry heat of the oven.  Part way through the roasting I realized that this flap had crisped into a scrunchion, so I cut a number of slices of fat from the roast and left them on the wire rack beside the meat.

Once crisp the scrunchions were removed to a paper towel and sprinkled with sea salt and chopped thyme.

How to Make a Paper Cone for Scrunchions

This is also how pastry cooks make impromptu piping bags from parchment paper.

Cut a 8" x 8" square of parchment paper.  Cut the square into two right angled triangles.  Orient one of the triangles so that the hypotenuse is towards you, like so:

Roll the bottom left corner so that its tip meets the tip on the top centre:

Now roll the bottom right corner around the cone, so that its tip meets the other two.

You should be able to pinch all three corners:

Fold the three corners down.  Fold them once more to secure the cone.

The cone should now hold its own shape, without the use of tape.


  1. I check your blog almost every day and have been so enjoying finding new entries almost every day. Yesterday was a disappointment so I was excited to see that number 50 today. Does this mean you have reached 50 blogs? That is kind of exciting.
    You didn't comment on how the scrunchions tasted. I am not so keen on pork fat but it might be OK when it is crispy. Somehow I don't think it would fit my current low fat meal planning. I can't help wondering what effect hanging scrunchion over the oven rack had on the bottom of the oven.

  2. I roast meat on a wire rack that's set in a sheet pan. The scrunchions were on that rack, dripping into the pan.

  3. OK that makes sense.

  4. Naw, you could totally eat it. It's low-fat pork fat.

  5. And how did it taste????
    What is chow chow? Is it what I made? Green tomato relish? I thought that came from the Southern US states... in any case - apparently, it depends upon the temperature - as in Vanja's culture - this is a HUGE treat and called cvarci (I call it crapola). It is the resulting crispy bits at the end of the fat rendering during pig harvest time each year. The Budapest Deli sells a very close version of this... much much darker than yours and I have actually tasted a thin little piece that was truly delicious; however, usually the very thought of eating it makes me ill.
    Love the cone lesson! Great for Christmas treat party munchies!

  6. Okay. Chow chow.

    I've come across chow chow in the cuisines of both the southern US and maritime Canada. In both places chow chow is usually pickled green tomatoes, celery, and mustard.

    I read in a southern cookbook that "Cha" is the Mandarin word for "mixed," and that the term "chow chow" was common in California in the 1840s to describe the chopped vegetable dishes of the Chinese labourers. The author then goes on to express confusion as to how the dish came to the Old South.

    In maritime Canada chow chow is described simply as a scion of classic English picalilli. There are even some commercial forms, notably Graves Chow Chow.