Lechon Pork Belly is a dish widely known all around Cebu. It became popular because unlike its close counterpart–the lechon–it is easier to cook since a smaller portion is needed.
People also say the pork belly is much more flavorful than a whole lechon because the spices we stuff in the pork belly are absorbed much easier.
There are a lot of techniques on how to cook Lechon Pork Belly but here in this article, we are going to learn a simpler method of making it. That way, we can easily bring the flavors of Cebu right inside your homes!
Truly, there’s hardly anything more special than celebrating special occasions with your own homemade lechon pork belly.
What is Lechon Pork Belly?
Lechon is a type of pig dish which has been passed onto the Filipinos back when we were largely influenced by Spain. It is actually a Spanish word which roughly translates to roasted baby pig.
But contrary to its meaning, lechon much more commonly refers to roasting adult pigs here in the Philippines. This is probably due to the fact that Filipinos have been familiar with roasting pigs since pre-colonial times.
The most prominent place where lechon is being made is in the city of Cebu. It requires meticulous work of roasting the pig over charcoal for a gruelling 8 hours or so.
Thus, it is mostly reserved for the most treasured occasions such as weddings, celebrations, or any other large gatherings. And of course, it is not practical to roast a whole pig every time you crave for one. This is where Lechon Belly rises to stardom.
Lechon Belly, obviously, is only made from the belly part of the pig. The belly part is known for its rich flavor and tenderness. As said earlier, it’s much easier to cook and so this is the more practical way of having it for small gatherings.
In this recipe, we are going to roast the pork belly using an oven, instead of the traditional way of roasting it in a charcoal. Sounds easy, right? Let’s get into it.
How To Cook Lechon Pork Belly?
First thing we need to remember when preparing the lechon pork belly is to plan ahead of time. It requires a long oven time and we also need to prepare other ingredients preferably the day before.
Now, there are two key things we are going to talk about here that we need to do in order to make our lechon pork belly. First is the brining, and then second is the stuffing for the dish.
Let’s start with the brining. Brining is basically soaking your meat into a salt solution. In a large pot, all you have to do is to combine the water, scallions, lemongrass, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme, sugar, and salt.
So here, all you need to do is combine all the brine ingredients and then add water into it. Boil the ingredients for about 5 minutes and let it cool. Once that’s done, soak in the pork belly and proceed to seal and refrigerate overnight.
Once we’re done with the first part, bring out the pork belly once again. We’re now going to prepare the stuffings for the pork belly. A good technique here is to start rubbing the filling ingredients all over the meat of the belly and let it sit for about 10 minutes. This way the flavors are even more absorbed into the meat.
Roll the entire slab into a spiral figure and then tie with a kitchen twine, to make sure it will hold its shape.
That’s about it for the preparation. Now, the lechon pork belly is set to be roasted.
Try our recipe below and read on how to roast it perfectly in the oven! Enjoy!
Notes On Ingredients
Get a fresh belly as much as possible. A fresh one usually looks pinkish and is firm when touched. When you buy at your local supermarket, you can ask for the butcher to remove the bones of the pork belly to make things easier when preparing.
- Dry brining or curing – This method can also be used when brining the pork belly. What you need to do is pummel all the combined ingredients using a mortar and pestle and rub it all over the meat of the belly. Seal the pot or transfer the belly into a ziplock bag, and refrigerate it overnight.
- Milk Brushing- Brushing the pork skin with milk while halfway of roasting will help achieve that crispier skin we want
For a quick reference about this recipe, see the recipe table below:
Lechon Pork Belly Recipe
- 2 kgs pork belly, bone removed
- oil, for brushing
- milk, for brushing
For the Brine:
- ¾ cup salt
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tbsp whole peppercorns
- 3 pcs scallion
- 3 stalks lemongrass
- 1 tsp rosemary
- 1 tsp thyme
For the Filling
- Black pepper, whole and ground
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 6 pcs bay leaves (laurel leaves)
- 1 tbsp salt
- Dash of all-spice powder, thyme, rosemary
- 3 stalks lemongrass
- In a large bowl or container (that fits the pork belly), add-in all the brine ingredients.
- Add-in the pork belly and brine overnight.
- Before roasting, dry the pork belly with paper towels.
- Fill the pork belly with the filling ingredients then roll and tie with kitchen twine.
- Dry again with cloth or paper towels then brush with oil.
- Cover with aluminum foil then place over a wire rack with a baking sheet beneath (to catch liquids).
- Roast for 2 hours at a 175 C preheated oven.
- Take out the pork belly and remove the foil.
- Brush with milk and roast for another 1 ½ to 2 hours until crispy.
- Transfer to a serving board, remove kitchen twine, then cut crosswise.
- Serve with spiced vinegar, lechon sauce, or all-around sarsa. Enjoy!
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