Are you thinking about making lechon at home this Christmas or New Year’s Eve dinner? If you are, you will want to be armed with these tips and tricks to cook the best lechon. Know what it takes to make it right, including how to make sure the pork belly skin becomes chicharon crisp!
1 Find the right cut.
Use a whole pork belly cut or liempo, not the lechon kawali cut. This is the cut that’s best for making into a crispy boneless lechon but if your butcher runs out of this cut, you can also buy a whole pigue or a kasim cut, too.
If you’re going to roll it, use a whole liempo cut that’s been trimmed for the Cebu-style rolled lechon, too.
2 Got time? Brine or marinate it first.
It might seem like extra work that’s unnecessary but it’s actually going to make your lechon better. Brining ensures the meat stays juicy while marinating ensures every bite is flavorful. You can also dry brine the pork by rubbing salt all over the meat before wrapping and storing in the refrigerator at least overnight.
3 Simmer until tender.
The biggest concern you might have is if it will be tender after cooking. To ensure it’s fork-tender, you can tenderize the meat first by simmering the meat in a flavorful broth. This not only makes your pork more succulent even before it’s roasted but it also helps dry out the skin.
4 Dry then score the skin.
The drier the skin, the crisper it will become. That’s not all. You also want to ensure that any steam and moisture that builds up is released quickly so it crisps rather than steams.
To do that, you need to help it out by docking it. Docking simply means using a fork, the tip of a knife, or even barbecue sticks to poke holes into the skin to help release steam as it roasts. (This is the term in baking where you poke holes in pie crust.) You can also make slices into the pork skin to create slivers of crispness.
Once you do that, time to roast it until the pork skin becomes super crisp and ready to chop and serve.
5 Save the leftovers!
One of the best things about making lechon is the leftovers. You can fry chunks for lechon kawali or make lechon paksiw. You can also just heat it up again and serve it just the way you did last night for a repeat of the night’s glorious meal.
What are you serving for Noche Buena?
Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!
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