A few weeks back, my wife Jess and I met Little Rock Foodcast producer Steve Shuler for lunch at one of our favorite eateries, South on Main. In less than a year, the Oxford American affiliated eatery on Main Street has become a hot spot for delicious Southern cooking, great shows, and excellent cocktails — and to be perfectly honest, it's really hard for me not to write about them more given the string of excellent meals I've eaten there.
But on this particular day, I invited Steve down to SoMa for one reason alone: pork skins. Now if you had told me a year ago that I'd be inviting a fellow foodie with a very refined palate out to lunch just to eat pork skins, I would have called you crazy. Oh sure, there's nothing wrong with grabbing a bag of Brim's Pork Rinds from the local convenience store for a snack, but this was a high-end restaurant. Lucky for me, Shuler was well aware of Matt Bell's culinary skills and was game to come see what the fuss was about.
The pork skins at South on Main are like no other I've tasted. The restaurant decided to make them as a way to curb waste: much of their pork comes from Falling Sky Farms in Marshall, and it comes with the skin on. Rather than chuck all that pork skin into the trash, the SoM crew decided to scrape it and dunk it in grease to make these puffy treats I'm raving about. The result is a light, airy confection that starts with a slight crunch and then dissolves into what Steve called "a blissful memory of pork." The light spicy seasoning on these pork skins adds a bit of kick, but it's the flavor of those high-quality pigs that shines through in every bite. Imagine, if you will, something that melts on your tongue like cotton candy, but tastes like the best pork you've ever eaten: you're close to what these pork skins do.
The South on Main pork skins are available on the restaurant's bar menu, so the next time you feel the need to get one of David Burnette's cocktails into your system, soak up some of that alcohol with a bowl of these lovely bits of crunchy pork. I promise you'll be glad you did.