Test Kitchen Insider: Cooking with Chicharron Salt345
with Ashlee Redger
Test Kitchen Chef
Can you believe that it’s been a year since The Original Chicharron Salt made its debut? August 17th marks National Chicharron Day aka Chicharron Salt’s birthday (psssst...be on the lookout for a special offer this weekend in honor of our favorite holiday!). When we got an early batch of the salt in the Test Kitchen to try, we were totally in heaven with the umami-salty-tangy combo—but also, totally stumped. How would we do this super unique seasoning justice? (Pictured above: Avocado Tempura.)
Of course, it’s incredible as a sprinkle—on fruit like watermelon or mango, fries, and homemade roasted pumpkin seeds, but by incorporating Chicharron Salt into a myriad of dishes and drinks, we got to know our little “Chicharronie Homie” on a whole ‘nother level.
Here are a few tips we learned along the way:
Pair it with Something Fresh
While this salt is great all year round, I associate it with the dog days of summer because it pairs so well with fresh, late-summer produce. A quick pulse with tomatillos, lime, garlic, and cilantro makes a really nice salsa verde to serve with fish, grilled meats, or squash roasted with a dash of Chipotle Chili Powder.
I wait eagerly for watermelon season every year. If you’re like me, it’s hard to imagine having extra watermelon around, but this Salted Watermelon Slushie is a very worthy alternative to eating it straight out of the rind (which you can also do, sprikled with Chicharron Salt of course). A few small peppery radishes blended with the mix play with the Chicharron Salt to balance out the sweetness of watermelon and citrus.
Pair it with Something Sweet
You know that salt and caramel is a magical combination, and the maple-bacon trend follows the same concept: a bit of savory, a bit of sweet, and a lot of complex flavors that vastly surpass saccharine sugariness or one-note saltiness. Chicharron Salt steps into desserts and pastries as the perfect addition to add depth of flavor, as well as a fun twist.
The first time I made Chicharron Salted Caramel Cookies, they disappeared from the Test Kitchen almost immediately. For months after they were introduced, people requested them consistently for our home office tradition of monthly birthday treats.
The cookies are incredible but I have an admission: I’m an ice cream gal. My very favorite thing to make with Chicharron Salt is this Maple Pecan Ice Cream or the non-dairy coconut, rum, and honey Macadamia Ice Cream. Don’t want to make ice cream? Chicharron Salted Chocolate Bark and Cashew Brittle come together really quickly and make awesome gifts (because the holiday season starts soon…right?).
Pair it with Something Savory
I have four words for you: Chicharron Salt Crusted Trout. I get it, it’s easy to start judging: I did when I first heard about this concept (“you’re coating fish with pork?”). Try it once, though, and you’ll be sold. To me, the cornmeal in the recipe isn’t optional. It makes a deliciously crispy and golden crust that stands up to a spicy, fruity mango-and-jalapeno salsa—if you’re into that sort of thing. The best part of the recipe is that the fish cooks in just a few minutes, so you end up with a super impressive dinner, fast.
If you’ve heard of avocado fries and haven’t tried them, you’re seriously missing out. Avocado Tempura is the perfect snack for that avo-lover in your life, or you can use them as a filling for vegetarian tacos. Serve them with the aforementioned salsa verde and insert heart-eye-emoji here.
While I’m not what you would call a baker, bread making is almost a spiritual experience, ya know? When I do it, I like to experiment with interesting methods and Soft Pretzels have long been one of my favorite weekend cooking projects. These are outstanding served with Spiced Mustard. If you love bread but don’t have the time to devote to homemade pretzels, try this incredibly easy bagel recipe (you’ll have it memorized after the first time) and top them with Chicharron Salt instead of Brooklyn Everything Bagel Blend (or make two batches and use both!).
Now that I’ve told you about all my favorite uses for this one-of-a-kind seasoning, comment below with your favorite way to use Chicharron Salt.