Ray Garcia's Broken Spanish is the Mexican-American chef's homage to the food of his upbringing. And one of the staples of the Mexican-American canon is the crispy, crunchy chicharrón, which is commonly found in meat markets in East LA. This version at Garcia's classy Downtown restaurant takes nearly five days to prepare, but it's worth the effort.
Upon first glance, a diner might confuse this chicharrón with a standard plate of porchetta, and that's the effect that Garcia was going for. Sitting in a pool of broth, the flavors are definitely more in the realm of Mexico than Italy, especially when coupled with a bowl of frijoles. Instead of a lard-inflected mash, you get an earthy serving of heirloom ayocote beans to counter the fat-laden chicharrón. Ask for a side of spicy salsa to round it out with a deep chili kick, and you have the makings of an ideal main course at Broken Spanish.
It can take five days to prepare the chicharrón
Garcia starts this chef-version of the chicharrón with a whole pork belly, taking off some extra fat and gristle before pounding it down a bit. The sauce is deceptively simple: just some toasted chile de arbol with some confited elephant garlic, plus salt, pink salt (for curing and tenderizing power), and chile de arbol powder. He combines the dry ingredients and rubs them into the belly, while also rubbing on some of the purees garlic confit. And for additional measure, the chef throws on some slivered elephant garlic for extra piquancy.
The whole belly gets rolled up then thrown into a sous vide for 24 hours. After removing the belly, they need to rest the belly further in the fridge to cure and tenderize, which can take a few more days. Before serving, it's fried up to a crisp in the deep fryer and topped with seasonal micro greens, which can range from cilantro to sprouts depending on the season.
On a busy night, the restaurant can sell more than 30 orders of the chicharrón, and if the kitchen 86's (lingo for running out) the course, it might take five days for the dish to appear on the menu again. However, Garcia's aware of the demand and knows the dish can keep for a while in the fridge. Next time you're at Broken Spanish before a concert or ballgame, be sure to order the chicharrón and see what five days of prep tastes like.
Broken Spanish 1050 S. Flower St. Los Angeles, CA