2 February 2017

Making the lechon is a long process, unpredictable, but it is worth it. Plan: Figure the number of attendees, the size of the pig, the weight, the cost, the equipment, the ingredients, and the time. How To Make The Best Lechon It has been a long time since I had “lechon”. I ate it at a Filipino gathering two years ago, and I am thinking of doing it next summer on my birthday. Lechon refers to a whole roasted pig, and it is the most popular dish in the Philippines, and the most sumptuous meal on every occasion.

It is very popular that it became the national dish of the Filipinos, and attracts a lot of tourists from all around the world. It has been featured in several food network television shows in America by two well-known chefs, Andrew Zimmern of “Bizarre Food”, and Anthony Bourdain of “No Reservation”. Making the lechon is very time consuming. You must plan it ahead of time. The exact time will depend on a lot of inconsistencies that take experience to manage. Find a source or talk to your butcher. The breed of the pig doesn’t really matter, but find out the cost, and make sure you know how many guests are coming to your party.

Process Essay Example

If you have ten to fifteen guests, then you will need at least a thirty pound pig, and when you are ordering a larger roasting pig, you will need to figure two pounds per person. According to my source, typically, a dressed pig that weighs less than a hundred pounds will cost two dollar and fifty cents per pound, and a live pig costs one dollar and fifty five cents per pound. The dressed pig costs more than the live pig, and for a good reason. If you are the type of person who can handle the job, and have an “iron gut”, you are more than welcome to choose the live pig.

But, if you are like me, and don’t want to go through the disgusting process of slaughtering, dressing, and removing the organs and intestines, then I strongly suggest buying a pig that is already clean. It will save you time and energy. My plan is to invite thirty to thirty five people for my party, and to make sure that I will have enough, I need at least a seventy pound pig, which will cost me one hundred seventy five dollars. It might not sound very expensive to you, but in the Philippines, it is lavish! You can buy at least two whole live pigs for that same amount of money.

The next step is to prepare the pig pit and the rotisserie. When making your own pig pit, make sure the ground is level. Clear the area by removing the grass, and then prepare an all dirt or sand base at least two to four inches thick. Keep the pit at least twenty feet from the house, and make sure to keep a fire extinguisher on hand in case there is a grease fire. It is better to be safe than sorry. I’m assuming everyone knows how to make a fire. All you need is a lighter, a newspaper, and a lot of charcoal or wood.

When buying a rotisserie, make sure that it is strong and sturdy, and it is weight tested for more than what your pig weighs. This is very important. You will use it to lift the whole pig into position over the fire. To get the perfect, crunchy, and tasty lechon, you need to brine the pig for three days and marinate the pig for two hours to give it extra flavor, and to tenderize the meat at the same time. When brining the pig, use a generous amount of kosher salt for brining the skin, and instead of using water, use coconut water for rinsing the salt.

Coconut water has a little sweetness, and that will add extra flavor to the skin. Use a clean fifty-to-seventy-gallon drum, add the brine mixture with five gallons of water, and stir the mixture with a paddle until the ingredients are dissolved. Add the pig, tail down, to the drum; add water until the entire pig is submerged. Then you can add two to four bags of ice to the drum. For a whole pig, you will have to leave the pig in the brine for two days. Remove the bags of ice and replace it after every twelve hours.

When marinating the pig, you will need six heads of garlic peeled and minced, two ounces of cracked black pepper, twelve large finely chopped onions, two pieces of fresh ginger root each the size of your hand peeled and crushed, five cups of lemon juice, a handful fine chopped scallions, two cups of vinegar, six cups olive oil, and one liter soy sauce to marinate the entire pig. Mix all the ingredients the day before and stir often. Rub the mixture generously inside and outside of the whole pig. You don’t have to marinate the pig for several hours, two hours before the roasting process will be enough.

Do not presume that after marinating and brining the pig, you can start cooking it. We are not quite ready yet! Adding a substantial amount of stuffing ingredients such as salt and pepper, two bunches of thyme and rosemary, a fistful of scallions, three heads of minced garlic, five large chopped onions, three sliced lemons, a handful of lemon grass, and adding twenty plantain or potatoes will provide an aromatic and scrumptiously flavored meat. Set aside the stuffing ingredients and ask for help to do the next step. Remember, the whole pig is quite heavy, so you will definitely need extra help do it.

Using a bamboo spit (traditionally used in the Philippines), or a solid metal rod, pierce the pig from the mouth to the anus. Once you have completed the process, you can generously add the stuffing ingredients in the cavity, fill the whole body cavity, and slice a thin layer in between the rib cage and the skin section using a sharp knife; then fill the area with a fistful amount of rosemary, thyme and lemongrass. After successfully stuffing the pig, apply the trussing procedure by sewing the abdomen area together using a heavy-duty kitchen twine or wire to keep the stuffing intact, and secure the head and both feet of the pig tightly.

Start your fire at the maximum temperature of three hundred fifty degrees Fahrenheit, and gradually adjust it to a low temperature of between one seventy five and two hundred degrees, because we don’t want to overcook the skin. Shuffle the coals around so they all light evenly. Also, keep adding charcoal to maintain the fire and the temperature. Roast the whole pig for a long period of time (five to twenty four hours depending on the weight), constantly turning the rotisserie and brushing the skin with olive oil to develop a nice brown color. Be patient!

Most importantly, make sure that the entire body of the pig reaches at least one hundred ninety degrees Fahrenheit. The hindquarters and shoulders will be the last portions to completely cook. Whole pig roasting is extremely hard to get right because the cooking time varies depending on the weight of the pig and temperature outside. It may take longer than what you expected depending on the weather forecast, you might want to look at the weather ahead of time so you will be prepared. The challenge with the whole pig is that there are so many muscles of different thickness with different degrees of fat.

The longer the pig is cooked, generally, the better it will turn out. Cook the seventy pound pig about five to ten hours, and watch out for the dripping fat, brush off the fat before it drips down on the coals. It can cause a grease fire that can easily engulf the whole pig. I’m sure you don’t want the whole pig to go to waste and be in the news or on a YouTube video, “a pig roast gone wrong”, right? It is good to have the fire extinguisher on hand for precaution in case it happens. Keep an eye on the proceeding!

After about sixty minutes, sooner if necessary, start another half bag of coals on the side, and add the hot coals as needed before the temperature starts to drop. You want to try to keep the temperature as steady as possible at two hundred degrees. Keep a snack and a bottle of water with you, or a beer, but don’t drink too much, so you won’t feel drowsy; stay awake! However, if you need to leave for a valid reason, make sure that somebody will keep an eye on the pig, and continue the procedure. But you can’t rush the process or predict the time it will be ready to eat. You will know it is done when it is done.

It will be ready when it is ready. And to make sure that it is fully cooked, you will need a meat thermometer to test the meat. When it is ready, put a layer of foil in the table (if you don’t have a lechon platter, which is big enough to hold the whole pig) and serve the pig. I prefer to serve the sauce on the side so people can taste the different meats infused with the aromatic flavor of the spices. That way I can offer several kinds of sauce, a citrusy soy “calamansi” sauce, a traditional Filipino barbeque sauce. To make it, mix soy sauce, hot red pepper, vinegar, and calamansi, a native citrus plant in the Philippines.

Sweet and chili sauce, and the famous “Mang Tomas” sauce, a popular brand name of all-purpose sauce that every Filipino loves, made from water, sugar, breadcrumbs, vinegar, salt, spices, pepper, and liver. In order to find out whether the lechon is perfectly cooked, take one bite of the skin. When you hear the crackling, crispy sound, you know it’s ready! Try to pull out one part of the ribs, and when you notice the moist luscious texture of the meat, and delightful aroma of the spices that is making your mouth water, you know it will be scrumptiously delicious! Grab a bowl of hot, steamed rice and a chilled beer, and enjoy your meal!

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