How To Cook Lechon Belly In The Oven

The belly is the ultimate pork cut to roast.

IMAGE Shutterstock

Crispy pork heaven can be achieved at home! If you are wondering how you can do this in the oven instead of the stove, you might be wary of the dreaded talsik or oil splatter. That's fine and the good news is that it is totally doable in the oven. 

In fact, you may want to do it in the oven from now on when you learn how easy it is. If a shatteringly good crispy pork belly is what you're after, here's what you do: 

Photo by Bianca Laxamana
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1 Prepare the pork and dry out the skin. 

The pork cut for this particular recipe is the belly or the liempo. This is a fantastic cut because you have a gorgeous layering of fat and meat that will result in super-tender meat every time. Aim to get that center cut of the pork belly so that you have even layers without any bones. 

To ensure that you achieve super crispy pork belly skin, you need to dry up the skin. You can do this in a few ways: 

  1. 1 Draw out moisture with salt and dry it in the refrigerator.
  2. 2 Blanch the pork belly in boiling water before roasting. 
  3. 3 Cook it long and slow to dry out the skin. 
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You can do any or all three tips. By doing all three, though, you ensure that you will get crispy skin in the end. Before it's roasted through, you need to do a few more things before it goes in the oven.

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The easiest way however is to just salt the pork. 

2 Season it well. 

The pork needs a delicious marinade or at the least, a salt rub to make it flavorful. After all, salt is the universal seasoning that enhances the natural flavors of the food it's added to. 

To season your pork belly simply, it's best to season it well. You can do this better if the skin is pockmarked or scored with a knife so the salt can penetrate deeper than just skin deep. You can do this with a knife or a fork. Once scored, sprinkle salt liberally all over the skin and meat, including the sides of the pork and in between the slices you made. If you are adding spices, rub it all over the meat side only so it won't burn when it's time to crisp up the skin. 

Once seasoned, you can refrigerate it overnight, uncovered, to allow the salt to draw out moisture. You'll blot off any of this moisture off before roasting it. 

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Photo by Riell Santos

3 Roast it. 

Once seasoned, time to roast. You have two options:

  1. 1 Preheat your oven to at least 250 degrees F or 120 degrees C for a long and slow roast for about three hours.
  1. 2 You can also blast it at the highest oven setting for 30 minutes then lower the heat to 375 degrees F or 190 degrees C for the next three hours. 
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These two methods will guarantee tender meat. However, the first method will not get you that crispy pork crackling skin you want. If you find that your pork skin didn't get as crispy as you wanted it to be, you can do something about it. 

Photo by Shutterstock

4 Crisp up the skin. 

If the skin is on the soggy side as it will be if you roasted it long and slow or just not quite crisp enough despite its time in the hot oven, you can crisp it up on the stove. You just need to pour super hot oil over the pork skin or fry the skin in oil as if you're deep-frying it like a lechon kawali

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Here's what you do: 

  1. 1 Place the pork skin side up on a rack over a large bowl. Set this aside. 
  2. 2 Heat about 2 cups oil in a deep pot over high heat. Once it starts to smoke or reaches around 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C (deep fry temperature), turn off the stove and remove the pot from the stove. 
  3. 3 Carefully pour the hot oil over the skin of the pork. It should immediately sizzle and pop until crispy almost as soon as the hot oil touches the skin. Repeat as needed until the entire pork skin is puffed and crisp. 

Crispy pork belly is really next-level pork cooking that you'll want to do every week from now on.

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