#28 Grattons (Cracklins)

Crunchy, salty, and almost 100% pure fat, cracklins are the original Cajun snack food. Cracklins, also known as grattons (grah-tawns), are the result of a poor people’s desire to use every part of the pig. Years ago, Cajun families and neighbors regularly got together for boucheries, or community hog butcherings. Every family pitched in to help butcher and clean the hog and left with their share of the animal. No part of the hog was wasted. In addition to meat, the hog also provided tripe, hogs head cheese, organs, pigs feet, ears, and the tail. Fat was scraped off of the remaining skin to produce lard for cooking, and finally, the remaining skin and attached fat was shaved (hogs are hairy), cut into bite sized cubes and fried to produce grattons. After being removed from the fryer, the grattons were seasoned and served. I’ll bet your favorite snack food doesn’t require shaving.

Made of almost pure saturated fat and heavily salted, these delicious treats have no doubt contributed to Louisiana’s high rate of diabetes and heart disease. While most Cajuns don’t eat cracklins as often as their parents once did, grattons remain a guilty pleasure amongst Acadians. Best Stop alone sells over 2500 lbs of these treats daily.

Nowadays, a community boucherie is a rare event. If you want your gratton fix, you can usually find them wherever boudin is sold. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can try making them yourself, but be prepared to scrub the resulting oil slick off of your kitchen floor and have your house smell like fried pork for a week (not a bad thing in this Coonass’s opinion).


19 thoughts on “#28 Grattons (Cracklins)

  1. Heart attack in a brown paper sack…that sounds like a catchy song title to me. Yeah, you can judge the quality by the size of the grease stain on the paper bag.

  2. I don’t want to raise the hackles of Music Maven again, but the late, lamented Johnson’s in Eunice had the best cracklins ever! Can’t find any I particularly like now except the ones my neighbor makes (but that’s only once or twice a year). Any suggestions for good store-bought ones besides Best Stop?

    As for head cheese though, blech. One of the few things I just can’t bring myself to eat.

  3. I’m with you on head cheese. It’s on the short list of things I will not eat (which also includes pigs feet, cowboy stew, and most other internal organs). There’s something not right about bits of meat suspended in gelatin. It’s been years since I’ve actually eaten cracklins, since they’re hard to get where I live, and I’d rather not have a heart attack before my 40th birthday.

  4. NuNu’s in Youngsville has some good gratons, as well as boudin. Not Savoy’s caliber, but good ’nuff.

    Here’s my graton story.

    Recently my father-in-law passed away after a 5 year long kidney illness caused by high blood pressure. My mother-in-law had him on a strict regimen of no salt, no fried foods, etc. and the old man was miserable for the last few years.

    The weekend that he died, we were looking for his bible and couldn’t find it. In our search, we began looking in his car and found a “stash” of cracklins hidden in the console. Man, was my MIL pissed.

  5. There is no better party than a boucherie.

    I guess I’m embarrassed to say I’ve eaten hog head cheese, lots of it. I never could eat more than one gratton in a day. Too much fat to process, I guess.

  6. I had a great aunt with diabetes. I remember her stuffing her face with cracklins just a few days before she died. I guess old habits die hard.

  7. Still waiting for that entry on THE DIABETES. I’m pretty much the only person in my family who’s managed to avoid it so far, thank goodness. Doc says it’s genetic and ridiculously prevalent in Acadian-descended populations. Funny thing is, very few Cajuns seem to change their eating habits, but many live with it well into their 90s, which would be really uncommon in the general population. Seems like someone would be studying that…

  8. If you want to taste the best gratons you have to go to Goulas Grocery outside of Breaux Bridge near Lake Martin. Eddie leaves just a tiny bit of meat on them and they are to die for. He makes them himself in a big black pot. Go early to get them while still warm!

  9. I remember one day when I was little (like 5 or 6 years old or so) and my PawPee and MawMaw decided it was time we made some cracklins. I remember the huge pot that PawPee was stirring with a big wooden paddle, and I remember freezing my butt off sitting on the ice cream machine that a cousin cranked by hand while we waited for the cracklins to finish. PawPee spread the cracklins out to cool on a torn up brown paper sack on the counter in the kitchen, and I remember sneaking into the room to grab one. I think MawMaw figured the burned tongue I got was punishment enough for sneaking in there!

    I’ve been reading this blog all afternoon, and I love it! Bravo, sir!

  10. Pingback: Festivous for the Rest of US!!! « Monkey Business

  11. I visit Louisiana often to see friends there and I always make sure I get cracklins! There’s nothing better.. well maybe Hebert’s stuffed chickens in Maurice, but they rank right up there!

  12. I make cracklings almost every weekend and let me tell I can’t keep em. So if you ever in da thibodaux area send me an email I may just have some.

  13. I’m from Georgia. I’m sitting here right now eating Best Stop Grattons! Call the Best Stop on Thursdays and ask for Dana. They’ll ship to you!! Ben

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