Lechon – Villaba Style!

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Now I’ve had my fair share of pork during my 42 years on this planet but NONE has even come close to the Lechon that was prepared for us by the Lucero family in Villaba, Leyte, Philippines! The post’s photos may be a bit much for those that have never seen “Porky” go from wallowing in it’s own filth to the plate, but it must be said, from the word “Go” the process was respectful above all to the wonderful animal that gave it’s life to fill the tummies of nearly 100 people.

We were blessed to visit a very rural part of Philippines this past year and we got way more than we bargained for. From meeting the most wonderful family, the Lucero’s, to surviving a Category 4 Super-typhoon called “Ruby” (and just about everything in between!) One of the most memorable and delectable parts of our visit was the lechon that was prepared for us. The pig, “Porky” weighed in at a massive 68kg (150 lbs) and well, let’s just say it was the largest pig I’ve ever had the pleasure to help devour.

It started at 4:00 am with a very quick and respectful dispatch. It took about 7 grown men to accomplish the task but once done, the crew got to work. They had boiled a few pots of water to help blanche the skin in order to remove all of the top few layers of the dermis. By the time they were finished the carcass was as smooth as silk. She was gutted and nothing had gone to waste. You see, in this part of the world every piece counts and it really helped me realise how lucky we are when we see our pre-packaged meat at the butcher’s counter!

The cavity was then prepped with a variety of spices along with a large number of lemon-grass stalks. She was sewn up with a copper hook and twine and then rotated, by hand, for just over 4 hours. The fire set up was crucial. They basically built two large fires with hard wood about 2 meters across. The pig was spun in between ensuring that it was getting even heat from both sides throughout the roast. It was bloody hot outside as it was and I’ve got nothing but respect for the lads that sat there hour after hour spinning “Porky” to a wonderful end, poking any blisters so that it rendered out some of the fat, keeping the crackling intact!

We were ready to eat at about 3PM. The result was insane! I’ve never had crackling like that before and the pork was as tender as could be with bursts of spice and lemon grass throughout. Did I mention that the crackling was the BEST I’ve ever had? I still dream of it on hungry nights. The lechon fed the entire village and then some. What wasn’t eaten then and there was packaged up in small plastic bags to be distributed to the less fortunate in the village. Again, food for thought!

I wanted to post this story because THIS is what true barbecue is! Its about respect, its about knowledge, its about taste and it’s about love! We were so grateful to Chef “Lito” and his band of merry men for sharing with us the most incredible meal ever! Salamat!

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Overall Roman/Heather Rating: 100/100

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