Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Oven baked Lechon Belly

Nothing excites a Filipino party goer more than seeing a lechon on the table. The king of  a buffet throne, the crowned jewel and the Belle of the ball . It's  the epitome of the Philippines' festivities . 

The whole roasted pig, glistering in its own fat with the aromatic steam seeping between the crackling skin , watering mouths, wowing eyes and promising heart -clogging goodness  .

 Now that Christmas is at our doorstep and everyone feeling all jovial and festive, pictures of it is all over the Internet , ever present in many ,many celebrations and parties. As a matter of fact, every December , my hometown even celebrates a food Festival dedicated to this Filipino specialty.

Behold! The Lechon Festival!

I feel home sick and left out just by looking at it and  grease- stained smiles of those who had it. Since I can't possibly order a whole pig and my oven in nowhere near big enough to accommodate a whole swine, I decided to make a smaller but never the less just as delicious version using just the pork's belly. 

It was my first time making  Lechon at home and I was pleasantly surprise that it turned out so good. The skin was so crispy , it stayed crunchy  the next day! The best part is, it tasted of home. This is going to be a very merry Christmas after all. 

Just listen to this crackling sound. It's almost as good as listening to Christmas carols.



Brining solution:
1/3 cup salt
2 medium sized onion, peeled and cut into half
6 cloves of garlic, smashed
4 bay leaves
1 tbsp. whole pepper corns
2-3 stalks of lemongrass , smashed
about 1.5 l water 

about 1.5 kg pork belly
a handful of spring onion
 stalks of lemongrass
3 tbsp. sugar cane vinegar
4 cloves of garlic
1 small sized onion
salt and pepper
about 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
2 tbsp. coconut oil 

Cooking direction:

Put ingredients of brining solution in a pot and add 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil until salt dissolves.
Transfer into a big container/bowl big enough to hold the pork belly . Add the rest of  water . Refrigerate . Once the solution is cold, submerge meat. ( Do not put meat when solution is still warm!) Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Take meat out from the salty solution. Rinse under cold water.  Pat all sides dry. 

  Season pork belly with salt and pepper. 

Using mortar and pestle, pound onion and garlic . Add vinegar. Mix until well incorporated. Spread vinegar mixture on the pork belly.

Put spring onion and smash lemongrass .

Roll pork belly tightly and secure pork roll using a kitchen twine. Since we're having the lechon for dinner and I prep the meat in the morning, I put it back in the fridge, loosely covered to air dry . The skin of the belly must very dry. It's essential to the crunchiness of the skin.

 Heat oven to 175°c. Pat the pork skin with paper tower to get rid of any moisture. Brush lightly with light soy sauce. 

 Place a baking pan in the oven. Fill it with about 2 cups of water. Lay Pork Roll, seams side down on a baking rack. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 2 hours, depending on the thickness and size of your pork belly.

Once the pork is almost cooked, take foil out and crack up the heat to 185-190°c  . 

Brush pork roll with coconut oil. Bake until the skin crisps and turns mahogany brown. Each oven is different so just keep an eye in your lechon roll. It took more almost 35 minutes in my oven.  I put the oven to ''broil'' in the last 10 minutes of cooking to make the skin really crunchy. 

Let the roll sit for 10 minutes before slicing. Just look, inhale the heavenly aroma coming from it and yeah, wipe  that drool off your maw.  Serve with your favourite vinegar dip!

Now, for the crunch test!

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