Cracklin' Bread Italian Style, Notes from Campobasso
Cracklin' bread, if you've ever heard of it, probably brings you notions of the rural South and of a past where concerns about weight and cholesterol were low on people's list of worries. A bread baked with cracklins in the dough is as delicious as it is dangerous.
Cracklins are sort of like pork rinds or chicharrones. Here's a definition: cracklin, cracklings
Also called gratons or grattons by the Cajuns. Cracklings are bits of roasted or deep-fried pork skins. You can make your own, or you may be able to find them at groceries. History: During slavery, after the slave-owner had rendered his pork fat, the skin was given to the servants. They would then deep-fry this skin and eat them plain or stirred into cornbread batter, which baked delicious cracklin' bread. There are, in fact a lot of online recipes for cracklin' bread that come from the South.
It's interesting to note that this ultra-hearty food is international; cracklin' bread was a staple of Italy's past as well. There's an Italian bakery down on Halsted St. in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago that still serves delicious cracklin' bread. Here in Italy Concetta, a friend originally from Campobasso brought me back the beautiful bread you see here. Her hometown version, though contains lard (no actual pork rinds), raisins and candied peel, so it's something like a cross between a yeast dough powder biscuit and a panettone. Can you imagine such a thing? Salty, savory, almost bacon-y yet punctuated with sweet and zingy fruit. Let me tell you, a little goes a long way. It is as rich as rich can get and the calories that must be contained therein really let you know you're full once you've had a sizeable piece. Not for everyday consumption, it's still a little bit of history and a way to connect with our past.