What is Lechon?
Ask a Cuban, a Filipino, and an Indonesian and you will probably get different answers.
Where was it originated?
I voluntarily opt out of that argument!
What I am sure of is the common ground of this traditional dish, which is slow roasted pork with delicious crispy skin. Cubans, and most Latin cultures, call this crispy skin chicharron, or as I like to call it, pork candy! This recipe is going to blow your mind in its simplicity. There are only two ingredients. Pork and salt. That’s it. The magic happens in its preparation. I want to address what cut of pork to buy for the best result. In order to get that delicious crispy skin, you will have to purchase a cut of meat where the skin hasn’t been cleaned off. I use a bone-in pork shoulder, also referred to as “picnic-shoulder.” I know it's a little confusing, but if you didn't know, now you know. So remember, bone=flavor and skin=chicharron. The only issue with that, and I use the word issue lightly, is that the pork shoulder cut tends to be quite large. So be prepared to serve this dish at a dinner party or family gathering. OK! Enough talking, let’s get to it.
You know the expression, “All good things come to those who wait?” This expression applies directly to our situation. The pork will take around 6 hours to cook. So we’ll start by setting the oven to 350F. Then you will prepare the pork by patting it dry with paper towels. You will then proceed to pierce the entire surface area with a sharp knife. Be generous with the punctures and be sure to use caution. Remember, there is a bone in there that can be potentially dangerous if you jam your knife into it. Once you’ve made many piercings around the whole cut of meat you will generously salt all sides and crevices. I want to stress this again, you will salt the pork just a little more than you are comfortable with. Remember this is a large cut of meat and the salt you apply on the outside will essentially season the inside as well. I don’t have an exact measurement for you as it depends on the size of the pork shoulder. Picture the way a dry rub is applied to a cut of meat when being prepared to smoke. At this point, the prep is done! Place your pierced and seasoned hunk of meat into an aluminum pan that is big enough to allow some room for the juices to flow. You may also want to place a sheet tray underneath that will help support the aluminum pan when you take it out of the oven. Roast that bad boy for 6 hours and allow enough time to cool. It’s done if you can easily remove the bone. Check out my Instagram for an example of what that looks like! Once you’ve let the roast rest for about 30 minutes you can remove the crispy skin layer and cut into bite sized pieces with kitchen shears. All that’s left is pull the meat apart and enjoy! The juices and natural oils released while cooking are sufficient sauce and flavor. However, If you want to kick it up a notch, and enjoy this dish in the traditional Cuban style, check out my Mojo recipe for a simple and delicious sauce.
Slow Roasted Pork
1 ea Bone-in pork shoulder "Picnic Shoulder"
Lots of salt
Disposable aluminum tray for roasting
Don't forget to check out my Mojo recipe for a super easy and delicious sauce. As always, share your results in the comments!