Lechon (Puerto Rican Slow Roasted Pork)
If you have never tried Puerto Rican food you are seriously missing out, and I implore you to give this recipe a try. My Puerto Rican/French maternal grandfather was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and he made lechon for holidays, birthdays and other times (if we bugged him enough). Once he passed away my little Mexican grandmother (she was small like 4’9″, but feisty) would make it for family and friends. I recently lost my sweet little grandma, and have been reflecting on all the wonderful memories I have of her. She was a huge influence on my love of cooking, food history and tradition. In my mind and heart she was hands down the best cook ever. In honor of her memory I have been making all my favorite foods that she made – somehow it makes me feel closer to her, and almost like she is right here in the kitchen with me.
So about the recipe…..It does involve some time and prep work but in the end it is beyond worth it. After it marinates for at least 8 hrs (for me preferably 24 hrs), it cooks slowly for several hours. However, you will be salivating after the first 30 minutes it’s in the oven because of the heavenly aroma that fills your house. Be patient you will be justly rewarded once it is done. Do not forget to uncover the roast and increase the temperature for an additional 30 minutes to an hour to form the delectable “chicharron” (the crispy skin on the outside of the pork). Some people refer to this dish as Pernil, but I grew up knowing it as Lechon. Whatever you want to call it, it’s the most phenomenal pork roast that I have ever eaten. Hope you give it a try, and end up feeling the same as I do about it.
* Fun fact about me: Do not be fooled by my use of “chicharron”. I do not speak a word of Spanish (sad I know since I have latin american blood pumping through my veins). Well let me amend that by saying, the only words I know are ones that should not be said in polite company, because Grandpa and Grandma only spoke Spanish when they did not want little ears to hear what they were saying (if you catch my drift). I am a true american mutt that takes pride in all the nationalities that I am (with respect for your time – I will not list them all right now).
8-9 lb Pork shoulder
12 garlic cloves, cut each clove in half (if they are large cloves cut into thirds)
2 tablespoons, or a handful of fresh chopped oregano
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
9-10 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
Wash pork, and place skin side up in a large roasting pan.
Cut slits all over the roast. Place garlic in the slits.
In a bowl combine the oregano, salt, pepper, vinegar & oil. Pour into the slits and rub all over the roast.
Cover and let this marinate for at least 8 hrs. The longer the better.
Preheat oven to 325° F.
Cover the pan tightly with foil. Bake 5-6 hrs.
Increase heat to 375° F. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes -1 hour. To form the chicharron. Watch carefully to make sure it does not burn.
Let rest for 15-20 minutes.
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