Lechón is a traditional Spanish dish that is popular in Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Phillipines, and throughout South America. The name lechón comes from the Spanish word for milk, leche, as the traditional recipe calls for roasting a whole suckling pig over charcoal until the skin is crisy and the meat is very tender. Lechon is a dish for special occasions, meant to feed a crowd.
Not to be confused with an entire roast pig, lechon asado is a more accessible dish of oven roasted pork shoulder. The meat is seasoned, marinated, and then slow roasted in the oven until it is fork tender. This dish is perfect for a Sunday dinner, served with black beans, South American-style rice, and fried sweet plantains. The leftovers make fantastic sandwiches (pan con lechón is a popular street food sandwich).You can also cook this pork roast on the grill, and if you buy it from the butcher with the skin on, you can get the crispy skin effect of traditional lechón. Grill the roast over medium-low heat, turning several times, for around 2 hours or so, until it has an internal temperature of 150-160 degrees.
Prep Time: 6 hours
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 9 hours
- 1 5-6 pound pork shoulder (blade roast)
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoons cumin seed
- 1/3 cup fresh oregano leaves
- 8 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup orange mango juice
- 4-5 fresh limes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 red onions
- 1 cup chicken stock
- Place the peppercorns, red pepper flakes, salt, cumin seeds, oregano, and 6 cloves of garlic in a mortar and pestle (or in a spice grinder). Grind into a smooth paste.
- Cut some of the excess fat from the roast if desired. Make 8-10 deep slits in the meat, spaced evenly over the surface. Take about 2/3 of the spice paste and use your fingers to push some of the seasoning into the interior of the roast. Spread the remaining paste over the surface of the roast. Place the entire roast inside of a large ziplock bag.
- Squeeze the limes, for about 1/2 cup of juice. Mix the lime juice with the orange mango juice and pour into ziplock bag with pork roast. Seal bag tightly, then place the roast in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours, or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Remove roast from ziplock bag, reserving marinade. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat in a Dutch oven or large skillet. Brown roast on all sides. Place roast on a plate and set aside. Place sliced onions and 2 cloves minced garlic in the dutch oven or skillet and cook over medium-low heat until onions are tender and fragrant, about 5-10 minutes. If using a dutch oven, place roast on top of the onions and remove from heat. If using a roasting pan, place onions in the bottom of the pan, then place the roast on top. Pour the marinade plus 1 cup of chicken stock over the roast and the onions.
- Place the roast in the oven. Cover with dutch oven lid or aluminum foil, and roast until pork reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees (about 3 hours, depending on size of roast). Baste the roast occasionally with the marinade as it cooks.
- Remove from heat and let cook before slicing. Serve sliced pork with some of the onions.