Thursday, November 10, 2011

One Carniverous Feast { A Porchetta and Lechon Picnic}

There are new things coming up for this blog. And in preparation for the exciting times ahead, the blog will be moving to a new home!  While I will still be writing about our phenomenal life, it will now have a new name. 

From now on, I will be doing all of my posting at The Phenomenal Mama


I hope you could all bookmark the new site and follow me there!


I will still be keeping this blog open so you can read all of my old posts.  But you won't miss a thing with the new blog as it will have all of the old posts, as well. 


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Today all the kids went back to school.  The house is quiet again mid-morning, allowing me to take pleasure in all things good that the sound of silence brings.  The melodious chirping of birds and the gentle swishing of tree branches are beautiful breaks from the stillness and quiet.  I remember when my kids were younger and I would want to keep them peaceful and quiet for a few minutes, I would ask them to go with me for a listening walk.  With their innocent and child-like sense of wonder, they would be amazed at the many unexpected sounds they hear when they choose to keep silent.

Anyhow, to celebrate the end of the school break, I threw a picnic for the kids on our rooftop.  Their joy could not be contained, as even the weather cooperated... The high and feathery cirrus clouds covered the sun like a sheer curtain.  The gentle breeze of the wind is enough to keep us cool; the occasional gusts blow our hair to our faces, gloriously reminding us that we are outdoors... that life is good, and there are many things to be thankful for.... Greasy smiles as wide as their bellies, oil-slicked hands busy with snatching each newly-sliced porchetta/lechon crust.  I guess crispy, crackly, crunchy skin make table manners fly out the door!:) 
The carniverous feast of a picnic, in reality, was actually to kitchen-test several pork recipes I have accumulated in the past month. Porchetta, bagnet, lechon ... whatever you call it, they are all the same to me.  Slabs of porcine heaven that tugs on the pit of my slightly bulging mummy-tummy. :)

To be able to make a comparison on which recipe is better, I decided to do a side by side comparison between the Italian porchetta and the Filipino lechon.  The goal was to prepare and cook them in identical ways, seasoning with different herbs.  Here is what I did:

First, I started with two identical slabs of porkloin with ribs removed and skin intact.  Score the skin lightly, making sure to not cut through the meat.  I find that this makes for easy and uniform slicing.  But if you want a shiny and even skin on your pork, then skip scoring the skin.  Makes no difference on the taste. Place them skin side down on a large baking pan and prepare the herbs.

For the porchetta, I placed onions and garlic, added a generous sprinkle of pan-roasted fennel seeds, added some dried bay-leaf, a couple of fresh sprigs of thyme.  Throw in a liberal dash of salt and pepper and roll up the meat and secure it with kitchen twine. 

For the lechon, I also started with the same amount of onions and garlic, and then added about 6 stalks of lemongrass with the bulb pounded, scattered 5 calamansi, sliced into two.  The same liberal dash of salt and pepper.  Roll the meat and secure with kitchen twine.


Put the pork slabs skin side up in the large baking pan rub with some salt and olive oil.  Place in a preheated oven.  Cook at 400 degrees F for the first 30 minutes and then lower oven temperature to 250 degrees F for about 3 more hours.
Get out of the kitchen.  Now would be a very good time to do your nails, read a book, take a long nap.  By the time you are done with all of those, you will come in to your kitchen, the heady smell of herbs and spices so fragrant and wonderfully comforting.  You will open your oven door to find pork so tender that you can practically pull the meat off without cutting.  And the skin?  Hmmmm... a deep-golden caramel color that is crunchy, crackly, crispy, heavenly!


We ate them with pita bread and ciabatta.  I placed sidings of with mustard greens, arugula, cheese slices and balsamic caramelized onions.

For the recipes:
Porchetta/Lechon (to make one)
whole slab of 1 to 1-1/2 kilo porkloin, skin intact
1 onion, sliced
1/2 head of garlic, pounded, skin-on
salt and pepper
porchetta herbs:
1 tablespoon pan-roasted fennel seeds
2-3 dried bay-leaf
3-5 sprigs of thyme
lechon herbs:
4-6 stalks of lemon grass, bulb pounded
5 calamansi, sliced into 2

1.  Score the skin lightly, making sure to not cut through the meat.  I find that this makes for easy and uniform slicing.  But if you want a shiny and even skin on your pork, then skip scoring the skin.  Makes no difference on the taste. Place them skin side down on a large baking pan and prepare the herbs.
2.  For the porchetta: place onions and garlic, fennel seeds, dried bay-leaf, thyme on the meat side of the meat.  Throw in a liberal dash of salt and pepper and roll up the meat and secure it with kitchen twine. 
For the lechonplace onions and garlic, lemon grass, calamansi on the meat side of the meat.  Throw in a liberal dash of salt and pepper and roll up the meat and secure it with kitchen twine. 
3.  Put the pork slabs skin side up in the large baking pan rub with some salt and olive oil.  Place in a preheated oven.  Cook at 400 degrees F for the first 30 minutes and then lower oven temperature to 250 degrees F for about 3 more hours.

caramelized onion recipe:
2 onions, julienned
1/4 cup good quality baslamic vinegar
2 T brown sugar
1 T fresh thyme leaves, (removed from the sprig)
Extra virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper

1.  Heat a pan with a bit of olive oil over medium heat.  
2.  Add the onions and saute until they just begin to color, tossing frequently.  10-15 minutes.  
3.  Add the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar.  Toss to combine.  Cover, reduce the heat, and let cook for about 30-35 minutes, or until the onions have cooked down and caramelized deeply. 
4.  Take off heat.  Add the thyme and toss to combine.  Serve.

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4 comments:

jen laceda said...

Miam-miam!!! I am absolutely drooling over here! I love lechon / porchetta but always hesitate cooking it because it of the mess it makes in the oven - with fat splatters and all...heeheehee! Your porkloin looks fantastic, though! I wish I could reach out of the screen and take a bite! Who can say no to crispy, crackling skin? I'm so hungry! Thanks for posting the recipe!

Mom-Friday said...

WOW, can I just order a slab of lechon?!! hahaha....I want that cracklings!
Galing ng picnic!

Martine | Daintymom.com said...

Me, too! Can I just order?? :):) Love this, Tina; you're such an inspiration. I can't manage to take pretty pictures while I'm cooking!

40andbeyondbyirene said...

Wow! This lechon looks so yummy! I wish I have the patience and time to make this over the holidays. Thanks for sharing. Nice photos!

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