What Is a Cebuchon?
If you want to learn about Cebu lechon, you first need to know what lechon is.
Lechon is a roasted pig. A whole pig is cooked on a long stick in a pit filled with charcoal.
The pig is prepared in advance by stuffing seasoning into the cavity created by removing the insides. In this case, it takes 1.5 to 2 hours to cook the whole thing on the rotisserie. Most people say young pigs between two and six weeks old are best because they have less fat.
Cebu lechon is a traditional dish that is made for special events or fiestas, like holidays, parties, and festivals. Because there is so much meat to be shared, it is best to enjoy it with your whole family.
Ingredients of Cebuchon
The ingredients to make this recipe are:
- Bay Leaves: 5
- Garlic Cloves: 16 and smash them
- Ginger: 2 inches, nicely peeled and cut them into julienne
- Kosher Salt: Half a cup
- Lemongrass: 4 stalks
- Pork Belly: Around 10 to 12 pounds with its skin on.
- Red Onions: 2 in number and slice them into 8 wedges
Clean the pork belly and pat it dry. Then stab it (the skin side) with knife or fork multiple times to create tiny holes. It is a little time consuming but it will make the skin crispy.
Turn on the flesh side and then score with a knife for an inch in the length of the meat. But don’t puncture the skin. Add salt and rub on the flesh. Spread the aromatics on the flesh (make sure the ingredients are equally distributed).
Using butcher’s string, secure the pork belly crosswise into a log. Twine should be every inch or two. (Having a partner helps!)
To bake: Wrap the lechon in a foil and place it on a rack on sheet tray. Preheat oven to 350F. Fill the sheet tray with water and place it in the oven. Cook for 2 hours and 30 minutes, adding water as needed. Discard foil. Set the oven to 500°F and roast for 30 minutes, but make sure not to burn the skin.
To cook on a rotisserie, begin by lighting your fire/coals and allowing them to burn until red hot and without flames. Maintain a minimum distance of 12 to 15 inches between the rotisserie and the coals to prevent the lechon from burning before it is fully cooked.
Wrap the lechon in a foil for the first 30 minutes and then remove the foil. Let the lechon cook for three hours and keep checking it once every 30 minutes. The last 30 minutes are crucial and you need to make sure that skin doesn’t burn. It should be crispy and golden.
You would be really tempted to just dig your knife in the lechon and savor it but let the lechon cool or rest for a minimum of 30 minutes before you remove the twine and slice.