Anatomy of Commonwealth’s Pork Rind Marshmallow Squares
Nose-to-Tail cooking is one of those au courant culinary concepts that’s bandied about so often, it almost feels banal. But in practice, it presents a number of obstacles for even the most resourceful chefs.
Take someone like Commonwealth’s Nookie Postal, who brings in a pig a week and offers over a dozen pork presentations on his restaurant menu and in his front-of-the-house market: pork ribs with cashew butter, house-cured hams, stuffed trotters, belly banh mis, pork chops and tenderloins, sausages of every sort, and even a confit head, which he serves with Parker House rolls, pickled carrot and daikon, bean sprouts, fresh herbs, and sriracha, for DIY pork buns. And yet, there’s still leftover porcine parts.
That’s why Postal has become something of an expert on pork cracklings, which are crumbled on dishes for extra crunch and sprinkled with togarashi for an addictive potato chip alternative. He’s even taken to using them in an gluttonous new dessert, which emulates everyone’s favorite after-school snack, the marshmallow square.
“Even with one pig, you’re left with a lot of skin,” Postal says. “We try to do as much as we can with the whole animal, so we’ve gotten down our pork rind recipe, which is a bit of a process. When you cook them, they puff up and they’re really nice and light. After you chop them they look like little Rice Krispies. They don’t taste like it, but they certainly look like them.”
After breaking the pig down, Postal boils the skin for several hours, lays it out on sheet trays, and scrapes off all the excess fat. Afterward, he dehydrates the skin for two to three days, then fries it until “puffy.”
For his new dessert squares, a recipe he first tested out at Cochon 555, Postal dices the pork cracklings, tosses them with sugar, and slightly candies them. Each tray is then topped with brown butter and baked with a combination of store-bought and house-made marshmallows.
Currently, the porky marshmallow squares are available in the Commonwealth market for $3 a bag, and Postal is looking for ways to sneak it onto his dessert menu as well. Perhaps he’ll prepare it like its previous Cochon 555 iteration, paired with chocolate pork blood ice cream.
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