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 herself 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 sa hurno? “Oh, yes,” she states. “It’s very easy.” She elaborates, “just 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? 12:00 PM 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 1-1/2 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. This was the most delicious mistake ever. In fact, 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. I could actually hear the crackling of the skin as she chewed! This article on low-temperature cooking might explain the magic that happened here. Sooo, my favorite people, give this a try and I am sure you will agree that this is the moistest meat and crispiest rind you will ever find on a lechon sa hurno.
Lechon sa Hurno
- 4 to 5 pounds pork belly with ribs
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Have the butcher cut through the ribs without going through the meat (easier to chop the lechon into pieces when serving). With a knife, pierce the skin a few times. Pour vinegar over and massage on meat. Rub salt, garlic powder and pepper all over meat. Refrigerate, uncovered and skin side up, overnight to chill.
- With paper towels, pat down surfaces of meat 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 1-1/2 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 skin is very crisp.
- Remove meat from oven and allow to rest for about 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.