Boneless Lechon Belly
Lechon as we all know is a staple specialty Filipino dish served during special occasions in the Philippines. Served during fiestas, birthdays and weddings this famous Philippine version of roasted pig has long been a tradition of many Pinoys. The trick to this recipe is its mix of herbs and spices stuffed inside the belly of the pig while being roasted on a bamboo pole for 3 to 4 hours on a pile of burning coals. Adding to its specialty is the intensive labor and long hours needed to prep and cook an entire whole pig. Personally, I would describe it as “Wresting with a pig!. But not everyone can afford an entire piece of lechon to be served on a dining table, and at times Filipinos would only go to their favorite lechonan to buy a kilo for their household consumption.
My inspiration to cook this dish came when I attended a birthday a few months back and the brother of a good friend of mine talked to me about how he managed to simplify the cooking methods of lechon by using an entire slab of pork belly instead. His method still used the traditional roasting but since I was too lazy to be out in the sun to roast, I decided to use my oven toaster. Hopefully, this method would work for you as well, and experience the succulent and aromatic lechon straight from your very own kitchen.
This recipe guarantees a crispy and crunchy texture of the skin, while meat is tender and juicy packed with pungent aromatic smell and flavor.
2 kilos of pork belly slab – with the ribs removed (you can ask your butcher or meat vendor for a special cut of this)
2 tablespoons of rock salt
2 tablespoons of black pepper
2 garlic bulbs – each clove peeled and crushed
10 green chilis/siling haba – sliced
10 sprigs of spring onions/sibuyas dahon
5 sprigs of lemongrass/tanglad
Cooking string/butchers twine – you can also use cotton twine for this (make sure to soak it in water before using it)
1. Pat dry the pork belly slab on both sides, then lightly slice the meat portion (not the skin part) horizontally and vertically to create a crisscross pattern (make sure not to cut through the pork skin as you do this). The reason why we are lightly slicing the meat is for the herbs and flavors to thoroughly seep in the meat as it cooks.
2. Mix the salt and pepper in a bowl, then rub the mixture to the sliced parts of the meat. Set aside and let it dry marinate for 15 to 30 minutes.
3. Prep your oven to high temperature around 240’C.
4. Now layer the sliced green chilis/siling haba and cloves of garlic as you evenly distribute it on the meat. Then place the lemongrass/tanglad and spring onions/sibuyas dahon on the bottom part of the meat.
5. Then carefully and tightly role the pork slab. Now tightly tie the meat in each section using the string. You can ask someone to help you do the tying as you hold the pork meat together. Make sure it forms an even roll.
6. Once done, place it on the oven and let it cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Or until you have reached a golden brown color on the skin. Another way to test it is to tap the skin, once you get a crisp texture, then that means it’s already cooked.
7. Remove from the oven and serve it as a whole or in slices.
Since I was using my oven toaster, I had to turn each sides every 10 minutes to make sure that the outer layer has an even brown color and crispy texture. But if you are using a standard oven, you can just leave it in the oven until it cooks. I also had to cut the slabs into 3 since I was giving the other one to my dad, but if you can have an entire slab then the better.
As a dip, you can use soy sauce mixed with chili or use the all-time favorite Mang Tomas for lechon.