Lechon Ceubano
Thomas J. Story
Author Nico de Leon

“When sourcing your pork belly, look for whole boneless slabs with the skin on,” says Nico. “Most Asian groceries will sell this, but you need to let them know you want the WHOLE SLAB with the SKIN ON. Some other markets and specialty butcher shops can help source it as well. And recently many wholesale meat purveyors have been offering their services to the public. Look for a good meat-to-fat ratio and an even width throughout for the best results.”

How to Make It

1

1. Pat pork belly dry and place skin-side up on a large cutting board. Using a sharp paring knife or safety pin, repeatedly stab the entirety of the skin to create hundreds of tiny holes. This process takes time but is extremely important in getting crispy skin.

2

2. Flip over to the flesh side and score deeply with a knife every inch down the length of the belly, being careful not to puncture the skin. Rub the salt into the flesh, then arrange all the aromatics in the center going lengthwise, maintaining an even distribution of ingredients.

3

3. Roll the pork belly crosswise into a log, and tie up with butcher’s twine, first securing the very center, then the ends, then the gaps in between. Eventually, there should be twine every inch or two. (It helps to have a buddy during this part!)

4

4. To cook in an oven: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Wrap the lechon in foil and place on rack on a sheet tray. Place the sheet tray in the center of the oven, and fill the tray with water (this allows the rendered fat to collect on the water and not burn on the tray). Cook for 2 1⁄2 hours, adding water as necessary and rotating the tray every 30 minutes. Remove foil. Crank the oven to 500° F, roast another 30 minutes, paying close attention to the skin so it does not burn. Skip to step 7!

5

5. To cook on a rotisserie: Light your fire/coals and let burn till red hot and there are no flames. Place your rotisserie setup at least 12 to 15 inches from the coals so the lechon doesn’t burn before it fully cooks.

6

6. Wrap the lechon in foil for the first half-hour, then uncover. Let it cook for 3 hours, monitoring the last 30 minutes the most to make sure the skin isn’t burning. It should be golden and extremely crispy.

7

7. Very important: Let your lechon rest for at least 30 minutes before removing the twine and slicing.

Ingredients

 1 pork belly, skin on (roughly 10–12 pounds)
 ½ cup kosher salt
 4 stalks lemongrass, smashed
  2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced lengthwise
 16 garlic cloves, smashed
 2 red onions, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
 5 bay leaves

Directions

1

1. Pat pork belly dry and place skin-side up on a large cutting board. Using a sharp paring knife or safety pin, repeatedly stab the entirety of the skin to create hundreds of tiny holes. This process takes time but is extremely important in getting crispy skin.

2

2. Flip over to the flesh side and score deeply with a knife every inch down the length of the belly, being careful not to puncture the skin. Rub the salt into the flesh, then arrange all the aromatics in the center going lengthwise, maintaining an even distribution of ingredients.

3

3. Roll the pork belly crosswise into a log, and tie up with butcher’s twine, first securing the very center, then the ends, then the gaps in between. Eventually, there should be twine every inch or two. (It helps to have a buddy during this part!)

4

4. To cook in an oven: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Wrap the lechon in foil and place on rack on a sheet tray. Place the sheet tray in the center of the oven, and fill the tray with water (this allows the rendered fat to collect on the water and not burn on the tray). Cook for 2 1⁄2 hours, adding water as necessary and rotating the tray every 30 minutes. Remove foil. Crank the oven to 500° F, roast another 30 minutes, paying close attention to the skin so it does not burn. Skip to step 7!

5

5. To cook on a rotisserie: Light your fire/coals and let burn till red hot and there are no flames. Place your rotisserie setup at least 12 to 15 inches from the coals so the lechon doesn’t burn before it fully cooks.

6

6. Wrap the lechon in foil for the first half-hour, then uncover. Let it cook for 3 hours, monitoring the last 30 minutes the most to make sure the skin isn’t burning. It should be golden and extremely crispy.

7

7. Very important: Let your lechon rest for at least 30 minutes before removing the twine and slicing.

Lechon Cebuano a.k.a. Cebuchon