Simultaneously tender and crispy, these sumptuous hunks of ribeye steak are fried in lard until they turn a deep golden color of “EAT ME!”.
The title of this dish, Chicharron De Ribeye, can be a little confusing. Maybe even misleading. All you need to know, is that it involves shallow fried beef cooked in animal fats. And THAT means, it’s one of the greatest things a carnivore could ever hope to eat.
Traditionally, chicharrones are Mexican style fried pork skins. Similar to cracklins or pork rinds. In this case, the chicharron are not skin but perfectly crispy hunks of prime steak. It’s as though the crispiest piece of bacon had a child with the beefiest, butteriest steak. It’s truly a thing of culinary beauty.
I first came across these meaty morsels in McAllen, Texas, a town that sits right on the Mexican border. Served in atop a mound of creamy fresh guacamole, I distinctly recall the moment the server put them down on the tabletop in front of us. We all looked up at one another with gleeful grins – is this real?! Did we REALLY just find crispy ribeye nuggets?! YES! YES WE DID!
Most recently, a trip to Sayulita revealed another version where the chunks were served in a hot molcajete. Sizzling and audibly crackling in the hot lava stone. Meat based ASMR at it’s finest. But as I popped the scalding chunks of tallow-coated heaven into my mouth, I knew I simply had to make these at home.
And so, the great beef chicharron quest began. Initially, I thought it was a little indulgent/silly that they cut up a good ribeye steak to make this dish. As I developed and tested the recipe, I tried several secondary (cheaper) cuts of beef to try and justify the “cube n fry” treatment. But, they really ended up dry, some eve impossibly tough and endlessly chewy.
I started to realize that the use of ribeye was not merely a gimmick, but a way to get beautiful chunks of rendered fat into a dish that needed the fat to remain tender. In short, for this dish to be everything that makes it so wonderful, you really do need to use a premium cut of meat. Not merely a ribeye, but a Prime ribeye. Prime is the highest USDA grade, and means the meat is rippled with tiny seams of delicate fat. This fat translates both to flavor and tenderness, and is the mark of a quality piece of beef.
If you do not have lard or tallow you can use frying oil, but here’s my guide to how to make your own lard and tallow at home.Print