Lechon: Always A Fiesta With This Whole Pork Roast

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Lechón is a pork dish in several regions of the world, most specifically Spain and its former colonial possessions throughout the world, like the Philippines.

The word lechón originated from the Spanish term lechón; that refers to a suckling pig that is roasted.

Lechón is a popular food in the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, other Spanish-speaking nations in Latin America, and Spain.

What is lechon

The dish features a whole roasted pig cooked over charcoal. Additionally, it is a national dish of the Philippines, with Cebu at the forefront of popularity.

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What does “lechon” mean?

Well, if you ask a Spaniard, they’ll tell you that it refers to a suckling pig roasted over an open fire. But in the Philippines, lechon has come to mean so much more.

Lechon is often served at Filipino celebrations and festivals, and it’s also become a popular tourist attraction. Every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to the Philippines to see lechon being made and to enjoy the deliciousness for themselves.

What does lechon taste like?

There’s no one answer to that question because lechon can vary quite a bit in taste, depending on how it’s prepared. Generally speaking, lechon is going to be pretty savory with a slight sweetness from the skin. The meat will be moist and tender, and the fat will render down so that it’s nice and crispy.

How to prepare lechon

After seasoning, the pig is cooked by skewering the entire animal, entrails removed, on a large spike rotisserie, and cooking it over charcoal.

It’s roasted on all sides for several hours resulting in crispy skin, a distinctive feature of the dish.

If you want to try your hand at making lechon, there are a few different ways you can do it. One popular method is to stuff the pig with a mixture of garlic, onions, and other spices before roasting it. This gives the lechon added flavor and makes it extra juicy.

Another option is to marinate the pig in a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic before roasting it. This gives the lechon a more robust flavor that some people enjoy.

Whichever method you choose, the important thing is to make sure that the pig is cooked through before serving. The best way to do this is to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the lechon. It should be at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit before it’s safe to eat.

How to eat lechon

There are a few different ways that you can enjoy lechon. One popular way is to simply pull off a piece of the skin and eat it. The skin is usually the most flavorful part of the lechon, so this is a great way to enjoy it.

Another option is to shred the meat and mix it with some of the lechon’s gravy. This makes for a delicious and hearty meal perfect for any occasion.

Finally, you can chop up the lechon and use it as a topping.

What’s the difference between lechon and pernil?

Lechon is a suckling pig or whole pork roast, but pernil is the pork shoulder, a cut of meat from the front leg. They both have similar seasoning and crackling crispy skin.

What’s the difference between lechon and crispy pata?

Crispy pata is pork knuckles deep-fried (twice or even thrice) to be very crispy throughout, whereas lechon is a whole pork roast with very crispy skin and succulent meat.

Types of lechon

There are many different types of lechon, but some of the most popular include:

  • Lechon kawali – This is a type of lechon that’s made by frying whole pork in a large pot or wok.
  • Lechon manok – As you might guess from the name, this type of lechon is made with chicken instead of pork.
  • Lechon baboy – This is the traditional lechon made with a whole suckling pig.
  • Lechon de Leche – This lechon is made with a milk-fed suckling pig. It’s even more tender and flavorful than traditional lechon baboy.
  • Lechon Cebu – This is a variation of lechon that’s said to be originated from the city of Cebu. The main difference of this type of lechon is the seasoning used which usually consists of garlic, pepper, vinegar, and salt.

There are a few different popular ways to enjoy lechon. One popular pairing is lechon with ensalada, a Filipino salad made with cabbage, carrots, and green beans.

Another popular pairing is lechon kawali with sinigang, a tamarind-based soup.

Finally, lechon is often served with mashed potatoes, white rice, and a dipping sauce made from vinegar and chili peppers.

Ways to use leftover lechon

If you have any leftover lechon, there are a few different ways to use it. One option is to shred the meat and use it in a sandwich or wrap.

Another option is to chop up the lechon and use it as a topping for rice, noodles, or salads the next day.

Finally, you can make lechon soup by simmering the leftover lechon bones in water with some veggies and seasonings. This makes for a delicious and hearty soup perfect for a winter meal.

Where to eat lechon?

If you’re in the Philippines, there are a few different places where you can find lechon. One popular option is to visit a lechonera, a type of restaurant specializing in lechon.

Another option is to visit a carinderia, which is a type of Filipino eatery that serves a variety of different dishes.

Finally, you can also find lechon at many events and celebrations, such as weddings, birthday parties, and fiestas.

Lechon etiquette

If you’re eating lechon at a formal event, there are a few different etiquette rules that you should be aware of. First, it’s considered impolite to eat the skin of the lechon first. Instead, you should start with the meat before moving on to the skin.

Second, you should use your fork and knife to cut the lechon into small pieces before eating it.

Third, you should avoid eating the lechon with your hands, as this is considered bad manners.

Is lechon healthy?

Lechon is not a particularly healthy dish, as it’s high in fat and calories. However, it can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Conclusion

Lechon is a delicious dish that you can and really should try anywhere in the Philippines.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.