Mae’s Slow Roasted Pork
As Seen on BBC2 ‘Mary Berry’s Easter Feast’
Lechon, is slow roasted suckling pig and it is a Philippines national treasure, even Anthony Bourdane couldn’t get enough of it. It’s delicious and an all time favourite dish at many Filipino gatherings. Lechon or Litson [Le-chon] is stuffed with herbs & spices and cooked over coal on low heat for many hours. Keeping the meat moist and the skin nice and crispy.
You might have seen me on TV with Mary Berry on her 2016 Easter show on BBC2 “Mary Berry’s Easter Feast”. I showed Mary how to make a traditional ‘Lechon’ usually a whole hog spit roasted in charcoal but a smaller version. In the Philippines the whole pig is slowly roasted over charcoal and constantly turned to make sure that it cooks evenly. There are usually 2 or 3 cooks as they take turns in turning the pork and depending on the weight of the pig it could take up to 8 hours to cook. When it’s finally done, the skin is golden, with a red-ish brown crispy skin that has separated from the fat and meat. So you will get a thin crispy skin that is sooo delicious. With the slow roasting for many hours, most of the fat has been shredded and dripped off the pork so you are left with only some fat that kept the meat moist and tasty.
My recipe is fit for anyone’s kitchen who are willing to wait for a perfect roast pork. Living in a flat in London and without the spit, coal and space, I have to make do with Pork belly in my fan-assisted oven. However trust me when I say it’s worth it!
You will be delighted to know that all of the ingredients are accessible in the UK. Thinking back 10 years ago I might struggle to find some Filipino ingredients but today I can get most of the ingredients from Chinatown or any Asian grocery store. I buy a big slab of pork belly from Chinatown because my metro grocery shop just doesn’t sell them at all, let alone one that is 7kg big..HAha!
To brine the pork, in a large container add water and salt. Brine it overnight.
Heat the oven 120 fan/140C/Gas Mark 1. Take the pork out of the brine mixture, dry it all completely with kitchen cloth or kitchen tissue.
Place pork on a flat surface facing skin down with some kitchen towel underneath. Season the pork with salt and pepper evenly on the meat.
Place spring onions, lemon grass, bay leaves, garlic in the middle of the meat so it’s easier to roll and tie it later on.
Using butchers string, tie the pork belly across, all the way down its length ensuring it’s tight enough to keep the fillings inside.
Place the pork in a tray with a rack so that the juices drips down while roasting. Cook for 5 hours on low heat. Turn the pork around every 1 hour to make sure it cooks evenly and the skin colours evenly too.
On the last 30-40 minutes turn the heat up to 180 Fan/ 200C / Gas Mark 6. Make sure you keep an eye on it as the skin can easily burn at this stage. Once you see that the skin is golden brown almost orangey, you can take it out of the oven. Leave it to rest for 10 minutes. Transfer it to a serving dish and it’s ready to serve.