Okay, I have to admit that I'm not entirely a lechon fan. In fact, I hated the extremely heart-attack inducing pork for years, with the motto that they are almost tasteless, greasy cuts of pork that are slathered richly with the lechon sauce for it to have some taste. And I don't like food that don't have their own flavor and needs a sauce or dip for salvation. But when we went to Gonzaga, Cagayan Valley to celebrate our family reunion in Baua Beach Resort, they cooked lechon in a way that you would want to get the whole roast baby pigs all to yourself.
They were so tasty and full of flavor that you don't need the sauce for dipping. And they go with very delicious green mango salad, also known locally as ensaladang manga. Unlike lechons here in Manila where they are commercialized and just roasted until crisp, great care is taken in the rural areas to enhance the taste of pork to complement the rich fatty and crispy pork rinds and layers of fat and meat. Now back here in Manila, I can't believe it when I remember eating the newly chopped crisp rind of Cagayan Lechon. Very delicious! Of course, it will be very expensive for me to spend thousands of pesos to buy a whole lechon just to satisfy my cravings, not to mention unhealthy for all of us. What alternatives have I got? To eat out, or to cook one myself.
Herbed Lechon Kawali Recipe
Note: I use measuring spoons for my recipes, so if you're using normal utensils the measurements would not be accurate.
1 whole slab of Pork Belly with skin on
11/2 tbsp rock salt
1 tbsp ground pepper
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp crushed rosemary
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp garlic, coarsely chopped
- Boil the whole slab of pork in a pressure cooker or slow cooker with the salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, oregano and garlic, and just enough water to cover the belly.
- Boil until nicely cooked and tender, around 40 to 50 minutes in a pressure cooker.
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees at grill or broil setting.
- Place pork belly skin side up into an ungreased baking pan and sprinkle with pinches of thyme, oregano and crushed rosemary on all sides.
- Put into your oven and cook until skin is crisp.
- If you don't have a grill setting, pop into your turbo broiler and cook until skin is crisp.
- Serve with ensaladang manga.