A True Pinoy Dish for the Holidays: Lechon Kawali!
If most Canadians and Americans go for turkey on Thanksgiving, Pinoys would still opt for spit roasted suckling pig. For the Pinoy, a lechon on any special occasion makes a lot of difference. The lechon would even have a special place at the buffet table where a server will chop the lechon to smaller pieces and serve it with liver sauce.
Interestingly, the lechon has spun off some forms or variations. Other than lechon de leche, lechon kawali, lechon paksiw (roasted pork cooked in liver sauce and vinegar) and lechon Cebu (stuffed with lemon grass, onions, garlic, green onions and so on that gives it a distinctive, unique taste), there have been entrepreneurs which have restyled (or repackaged lechon). There’s the prichon which are finely chopped lechon wrapped in pita wedges, giving lechon, as my dad would say, a cultured look. For those who don’t go for pork, you can indulge in lechon manok, lechon pabo and prichopabo (prichon using turkey).
But if you’re still pining for a real lechon and you’re on a tight budget, here’s an excellent alternative offered by fellow dad Tony Ducepec. Other than being a media specialist and a web designer, Tony is also a great cook who loves to cook for his family. He added that he’ll send us more of his kitchen-tested (and kid-tested) recipes!
2 kilos of pork liempo (about 6 x 10 inches in size)
Salt and pepper to taste
Enough water to cover the pork
1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for five minutes.
2. Boil liempo for 30 minutes with salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Check if the meat is tender.
3. Once meat is tender, place the pork belly/liempo on a wire rack and baking pan.
4. Bake^ liempo for about an hour. Note that after the first 30 minutes, the temperature should be 350 degrees Fahrenheit then the last 30 minutes, the temperature should be increased to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Ensure that before increasing the heat that the pork has enough moisture. This will allow the pork’s skin to pop.
5. Serve with warm rice and Mang Tomas’ lechon sauce. Enjoy!
* To save time, you may want to boil the liempo in advance, say the night before you intend to bake it. Then remove the broth, put it in a sealed container and store it in the refrigerator.
^Some ovens have a broil setting, which automatically sets the temperature to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Tony advised that it is best to reduce it to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.