Lechon Baboy (Pig) is another national dish of the Philippines. I prefer to call it Litson in our dialect. Litson or Lechon Baboy is also known as ‘Roasted Sucklig Pig”, is a famous dish and most of the time symbolizes the bond that brings families and friends together for gatherings on occasions especially during Fiesta (Feast).
There is a difference when you only use the word “Lechon” to refer as there is also what we call ‘Lechon Manok’ for Roasted Chicken or ‘Lechon Baka’ for Roasted Calf. Basically when you use the word Lechon, it typically means the manner of cooking which is “Roasting”.
I suppose almost everywhere in the Philippines, a celebration i.e. Weddings, Birthdays, Baptism, and Graduation, would not be complete without a Whole Lechon served in the middle of the dining table. It is basically the centerpiece or the main attraction in terms of food for any occasion. That is why it is considered to be one of the Top 10 Delicious Foods you must try in the Philippines.
Cooking Lechon requires a lot of patience since its cooking time is somewhat long, roasting the whole pig usually takes up to 4-5 hours over a charcoal. The cooking time varies with the size and age of the pig. Ideally, to get the perfect lechon it is best to cook young pigs between ages 4-6 weeks old when they are less fatty and not that old. The ideal weight for pigs for Lechon Baboy is around 18 to 20 kilos. At this age and weight, its meat is at its finest and the skin is neither too thick nor too thin.
Despite waiting for hours for Lechon Baboy to be cooke, it can be worth the wait, as you will be getting ‘Crispy Skin on the outside, Tender meat on the inside. When Lechon Baboy is served, the skin is usually to be taken our first since the crispiness of Lechon skin is what most of us really wants. Although the ribs and belly parts are the most tastier part of a Lechon.
Do you want to know how to cook Lechon Baboy? The recipe below will show you How to cook Lechon Baboy. The instructions involved 3 Basic steps: Prepare, Stuffed and Roast.
For me, I can easily have access to pigs since my mom has her own little pork business however if you don’t have access to live pigs, you can always head over to your nearest butcher stores and purchase a live pig that is ideal for lechon. Butchers are knowledgeable as to
Important points to remember when preparing your live pig for Lechon:
- Ideally, the pig is drained through a cut on its throat therefore you have to make sure to completely drain the pig.
- To remove the insides, make a long cut on the stomach portion of the pig. This is also where you will access to the inside to stuffed your pig later on. Completely wash the inside.
- Lechon should be hairless. To remove the hairs of the pig, bring to boil water inside a huge pot. Pour it over the pig and slightly scratch it either by using a shave or in our place, we usually use a knife to remove the hairs of the pig. Pouring hot water on the hairs can soften it for it to be easily removed.
- After removing the hair and making sure that there is nothing left on the inside, completely wash again the pig.
RECIPE ON HOW TO COOK LECHON BABOY
Preparation Time: 4 hours
Cooking Time: 4 hours
- 1 Whole Pig (Live weight of about 18-20 kilos)
- Patis (Soy Sauce)
- Salt and Black pepper to taste
- 1 Liter of Sprite for the glaze
- For stuffing the pig:
- 10 bundles of Tanglad (Lemongrass)
- 8 pieces of bay leaves
- 2 kilos of green onion leaves
- 5 cups of Garlic; crushed
- 2 tablespoons of cooking or olive oil.
Step 1: Prepare the pig
In preparing the pig, make sure that its spit is durable and its structure can withstand the weight of the pig you will be roasting. Roasting the pig involved rotating it the entire cooking time. Having a stable and durable spit can prevent the pig to fall off from its spit.
Whenever I cook Lechon Baboy, I usually use a medium sized bamboo pole to stick it through the pig’s body. But if you have access to a stainless steel rod instead, much better. Once pig is secured onto the rod or bamboo pole, let us know add some seasonings and stuffed the pig.
Step 2: Seasoned and Stuffed the pig
First, rub the insides of the pig with salt and pepper. Also rub it on the body outside together with olive oil or cooking oil. Then, stuffed the insides with crushed garlic, onion and bay leaves. Bay leaves are used for the distinctive fragrance it give to the dish. Next, after cleaning and slightly smashing the Tanglad (lemongrass), stack it into the center of the stomach of the pig. Slightly smashing Tanglad releases a lemony aroma added to the Lechon Baboy. Finally, stitch the cut. At home, I use cotton thread and the largest needle I can find. A needle should be sharp enough to poke through the skin easily. Stitching it up helps prevent the stuffing from falling off while rotating the lechon during the cooking process.
Step 3: Roast
To get the fire started, I would like to start it by using wook at first and eventually loading it with charcoal. Make sure to prepare a lot of charcoal so that you will not run out. When the charcoal is hot enough, put the pig over it and gradually rotate it. I usually start the distance of the pig from the charcoal at about 500 mm high and make some adjustments later on.
To prevent the pig from burning and to allow its skin to be extra crispy and golden red in color, paint the whole pig with sprite from time to time.
We usually rotate the roasting pig manually. We either put a stand on each end to place the bamboo pole. Manually rotating it can take a lot of patience and time, make sure you also have someone readily available to switch with you in rotating the roasting lechon baboy.
If after 4 hours have passed since the roasting process started, or depending on the size of the pig, the Lechon Baboy is now cooked. An easy way to know if Lechon Baboy is already cooked is by looking on its outside, the skin should be golden brown and crispy. You can also check the temperature by putting a thermometer into a thicker part of the pig. You should get at least 140 degrees fahrenheit and that should be it. Your Lechon Baboy is now ready to be served.
In other countries, they usually served Lechon Baboy by cutting the head and cutting the whole lechon into pieces. But in the Philippines, we rather serve it as a whole and allow guests to get a portion by themselves using a knife and a pork. This will make eating Lechon Baboy more enjoyable.
You might be wondering what will happen if the whole roasted pig is not fully consumed, in the Philippines we have what we call “Lechon Paksiw”, the leftover from roasted pig is cooked with vinegar, garlic and a touch of sugar.
Interested in other recipes? Feel free to comment below. Also, let me know your experience along the way. I look forward to hearing from you.