Chicharrones de Harina, a Classic Mexican Street Treat

Tacos may very well be the perfect food, but let's face it, the standard Meximerican fare can get a bit stale after a while. Taco the Town is here to highlight some of the more unusual Mexican finds in the Valley.

This week: Chicharrones de Harina, a classic Mexican street treat

¿Como se dice?: Snack attack! Sometimes that 2pm stretch hits and you need something light and crunchy to fill your belly until later that the evening. This is the reason antojo de la calle were invented. Literally, "whims of the street," these light meal starters and munch-worthy foods are something you buy from a street vendor to keep your hunger at bay. Not that there are a lot of street vendors bumming around Phoenix, legally anyway.

Chicharrones de harina, or "rinds of flour," are one such treat. If you've ever passed through the Mexican spice aisle, you'll see baggies of bright orange pinwheels among the oregano and canela. If you've ever wondered what to do with those hard as a rock wheels, read on, because they're the perfect alternative to those papitas from Frito Lay.

(sink your teeth into all the spicy details after the jump)

La Comida y El Sabor: Unless you know what to do with them, if you seen these bright orange pinwheels nestled among the chiles and cumin, you probably pass right over them on your way to the frijoles section. They look more like rock hard, neon wheels that belong on a kid's toy than something edible. Introduce those hard, flour discs to some oil though, and something magic occurs.

The penny-sized spoke puffs up to five times its original size. You may have seen bags of these post-fried flour fritters hanging out around the Mexican deli, looking almost like puffy, orange bags of Mexican-style Cheetos (sans cheese). If you want to save yourself from the risk of hot oil splatter, by all means snag one of those and save the hassle.

After you've fried or procured your puffy little pinwheels, give one a taste. They're deep-fried, crunchy batter pinwheels that are the perfect substitute for potato chips. To dress these chicharrones de harina, toss some in a plastic or paper bag and sprinkle with salt. Squeeze half a lime over them, shake on some hot sauce, and seal the bag. Give the bag a good couple good shakes to distribute all those flavors, and enjoy. Crunchy, salty, spicy, and tart, the perfect afternoon snack.

Bring a bit of México to your kitchen: You should be able to find these "flour rinds" in the Mexican spice section of most stores, and we will guarantee Food City, El Super, and Ranch Pro stock them. One place you may not think to find them is at Lee Lee's and other Asian mega-marts. Check the Indian section (chicharrones de harina are popular chaat, or street food, in India too!) for a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Snag some multicolored pinwheels, tubes, spirals, circles and sheets and get to frying up some homemade chicharrones de harina!

Know of any Mexican gems in the Valley? Reveal your family secrets in the comment section.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Erica O'Neil