Lechon sa Hurno roasted low and slow in the oven turns out super crunchy yet juicy with no boiling, cooling or deep-frying involved. The ultimate treat for pork lovers in your life!
Please hug me. I deserve it. I just discovered the path to hog heaven. And quite by accident, too. Let me tell you the long-winded story of how this lovely oven-roasted pork belly you see before you came about.
I was on Facebook chatting with a cousin of mine in the Philippines when she commented on how cool my rotisserie giveaway was and how she is enjoying her newly-bought full-sized oven. She was going through the list of things she has cooked and baked in it so far...Filipino-style coconut macaroons, egg pies, lechon sa hurno...when I stopped her on her tracks. Lechon in the oven? "Oh, yes," she states. "It's pretty simple." She elaborates, "season the pork belly, refrigerate it overnight to dry out, set it on a roasting pan, and roast it in the oven at 160 degrees for about 3 hours. When the meat is done, crank up the heat to 220 degrees for about 30 minutes to crisp the skin."
Friday evening, I marinated my pork and kept it in the refrigerator overnight as directed. Come early Saturday, I arranged the slab on a roasting pan and preheated my oven. The closest my oven will go to 160 F was 180 F. Hmmm. Will 20 degrees matter? Probably not. So I went ahead at 180 F and set my timer for 3 hours, excitedly peeking in every so often. The timer buzzed, and my little porky friend was as pale as ever.
Hmmm. Should I call the Philippines? Noon PST=3 AM in Tarlac, but hey, I was in the middle of a cooking crisis. "Haalp! What did I do wrong?" I yelped to her on the phone. "You were supposed to roast it at 160 degrees CELSIUS", she grumbled in semi-sleep. DUH.
Instead of keeling over with trepidation, I hastily increased temp to 320 degrees FAHRENHEIT. After 1 ½ hours, it was beautiful and golden. I raised the temp to 430 F and in about 40 minutes, the skin was nice and crisp.
Boy, let me tell you. It was the most delicious mistake ever. I took out the roasted pork from the oven at 2:30 PM, and it was already 6:30 PM when my daughter finally had her share. The meat was still moist and tender after that many hours. And it was still so crispy, I could hear the crackling of the skin as she chewed!
I don't know what magic that happened here, but I am sure you will agree that this is the moistest meat and crispiest rind you will ever find on a lechon sa hurno. Definitely a must on your recipe list!
- Have the butcher cut through the ribs without going through the meat to make it easier to chop the Lechon into pieces when serving.
- To ensure a crisp skin, refrigerate the pork belly overnight, uncovered, to dry out. Pat dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
- Use a roasting rack to ensure even heat circulation and browning. Do not use a baking dish as the rendered fat will pool around the meat, affecting the crunchy texture.
- Let the roasted pork stand for a few minutes before slicing to redistribute juices and keep it moist.
While waiting for the pork to cook, make your homemade sauce a la Mang Tomas for dipping! No oven? No problem! I have the traditional lechon sa kawali recipe that turns equally delectable pork morsels! I also have a slow-cooker version you might want to try.
- 4 pounds pork belly with ribs
- ½ cup vinegar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- With a knife, pierce the skin a few times. Pour vinegar over and massage on the meat.
- Rub garlic powder, salt, and pepper all over the meat.
- Refrigerate overnight, uncovered and skin side up, to chill.
- With paper towels, pat down surfaces the pork belly to completely dry. Arrange on a roasting pan fitted with a rack.
- Bake in a preheated 180 F oven for about 3 hours.
- Increase temperature to 320 F and continue to cook for about 1 to 1 ½ hours or until meat is cooked through and browns.
- Increase temperature to 430 F and continue to cook for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the skin is very crisp.
- Remove from oven and allow to rest for about 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.
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