Pan con chicharrón is one of the most iconic sandwiches of my home country. This is the Peruvian version of pork roll commonly eaten for breakfast or lonche (afternoon tea).
Chicharrón commonly refers to fried pork in many former Spanish colonies. In Peru, however, you can also find chicharrón de pollo (chicken), pescado (fish), mariscos (seafood), etc. But back to pork! Peruvian chicharrón is cooked similarly to Mexican carnitas: boiled until the water is evaporated and then fried, traditionally in lard but these days usually in oil. Then it’s served in a French-style bread roll with slices of camote frito (fried sweet potato) and salsa criolla (lime-marinated onions).
My version of chicharrón is fried with the fat rendered from the pork belly without additional oil. I also like to roast the sliced sweet potato instead of frying it. Keep in mind these couple of tweaks don’t make this sandwich healthy, so treat it as a special occasion treat and have some salad on the side.
I used Schär gluten-free ciabatta rolls but feel free to use your favourite bread roll. Non-sweet crusty rolls work best.
Just a heads-up that this recipe involves brining and the pork takes a fair bit to cook, so plan ahead.
Pan con chicharrón
- 1 kg pork belly (a little more if on the bone)
- 5 cups of water
- 50 grams salt
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 medium sweet potatoes
- 6 ciabatta or other crusty bread rolls
- salsa criolla
- fresh chilli, sliced (optional)
- fresh coriander leaves
- side salad
- Cut the pork belly in large chunks.
- Make a brine with the water, salt, cumin, garlic and pepper. Stir well until the salt is fully dissolved.
- Place pork and brine in a large ziplock bag or in a bowl covered with cling wrap. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
- When ready to cook, rinse pork and place in a heavy-bottomed pot (cast iron is ideal). Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer semi-covered until the water has evaporated, this should take 1½ to 2 hours.
- While the pork cooks, preheat oven to 200°C (180°C fan-forced).
- Peel and slice sweet potato in rounds. Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and bake until golden brown.
- Once the pork liquid has evaporated, bring the heat up to medium and let pork brown in its own fat. Using tongs, turn pieces to brown on all sides. Be careful with fat splattering.
- Make sandwiches by placing sweet potato and chicharrón on bread rolls, topped with salsa criolla, chilli and coriander leaves. Make sure to have some salad on the side!