Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Making Roasted Pig in the Philippines.

With the pig on a spit, Joseph prepares to stuff its belly and sew it up. Photos by Sandra Scott
Ready to serve and enjoy.
While John and I were on a tour in the Philippines, one of our stops was on the island of Cebu where we stayed overnight at the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa. I was impressed with their pools — eight of them, four of which are saltwater lagoons and four, freshwater pools — covering a total of six acres. I never forgot about the pools, so when we returned to the Philippines in March 2015, we again booked a stay at Plantation Bay Resort. 
The resort is designed to resemble a historic plantation village, with a one-mile circular road that Riding in the vintage horse-drawn carriage around the property, I spotted the chef cooking a whole pig near one of the pools. Called lechón, the pork dish is served several times a week at the resort’s themed dinners. I returned to learn how it is prepared. passes by the many plantation-style buildings used for
accommodation, plus the spa, restaurants and activity areas. It is one of the national dishes of the Philippines, and no celebration, fiesta or family event is considered complete without it. It is especially popular at Christmastime. If you want to wow your family and friends at your next big gathering, serve lechón.    Black lechón is unique to Cebu. Legend has it that black lechón was served to Magellan in 1521 when his voyage stopped in Cebu. The word lechón is derived from the Spanish word for “milk,” but today, in the Philippines, it refers to the roasted suckling pig (or, colloquially, to a chubby child). 
 Black Lechón
1 suckling pig, ready to cook (about 40 lbs for 40 guests)
Salt and pepper as needed
Soy sauce as needed
2 onions sliced
6 bay leaves crushed
1/2 cup sliced ginger
10-12 whole garlic cloves
1 tsp crushed peppercorns
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
15 stalks of lemon grass
6 whole scallions
Trussing needle kit
1 can coconut milk
A spit (many farmers who sell suckling pigs have rotisseries for rent)
1 bag (25 lb) charcoal briquettes (have a second bag on hand, just in case.

Put the pig on the spit. Tie its feet together. Rinse the pig inside and out. Use a paper towel to remove any excess water from the inside. Rub it inside and out with salt and pepper. Rub soy sauce on the skin. In a bowl, mix onions, bay leaves, ginger, garlic, peppercorns, salt and pepper. Stuff the pig's belly with the mixture. Using one of the leaves, wrap it around the lemon grass and scallions bunched together to create a bundle, and pace it in the belly on top of the mixture. Sew up the belly. Roast over live charcoal until crisp. Plan on at least one hour per 10 pounds. Brush the pig frequently with coconut milk to keep the skin from cracking and to get the black color. When cooking is complete, remove the pig from the spit and the stuffing from the belly and it will be ready to carve. Serve with native sauce. Tip — before cooking, the pig can be prepared a day ahead and stored in a plastic bag.

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