Roasted Pork Belly Roll (Cebuchon)

Merry Christmas everyone!

This is one of the dishes I prepared for our Noche Buena last night and a few readers have asked me how to make it, so I tried finishing it up today, in case you want to make it for New Year’s Eve. 😊

It is a smaller version of a roasted whole pig we used to have when I was little. Whenever there is a big celebration, like town fiesta or Christmas, our aunts would have a lot of food on the table, complete with a roasted whole pig. It was roasted all day on a makeshift pit big enough to accommodate it. When done, we would all fight over the crispy, crackly skin as that was the best part!

This size is much more manageable and practical, as a whole pig won’t fit in a standard US home oven. Not to mention I’m not sure where I could get a whole pig, not that I want to know. 😱

Unfortunately, I was busy preparing several dishes and cakes at the same time I was making this that I wasn’t able to take step by step photos.

This pork roll is easy to prepare but you’ll just need time and a couple of special ingredients.

First, is a big slab of pork belly with skin on. I got mine from a Filipino grocery store, Seafood City in Irvine, California. I got lucky since they just received a delivery when I shopped there. It was around 18 pounds, frozen solid. I left it in the refrigerator for a few days to defrost completely. I bought it Saturday night and prepared it Thursday.

Next, you’ll need some lemon grass. I grow several herbs in the backyard including lemon grass, but if you don’t, try any Asian grocery store or farmer’s market. The photo above was taken after I took most of it for this recipe, so it looks kinda scraggly. 😊

Other ingredients are only vinegar (I used kombucha vinegar because I had some), garlic, onion, salt, and pepper.

You will also need a good kitchen twine to tie this up and preferably, a husband or a wife or someone who can help with the tying process. I used the thick twine, the one on the left, to secure this pork roll.

To serve, you’ll need some lechon sauce. We use the Mang Tomas brand photographed above, you can buy it in Asian groceries.

And of course , you’ll need lots of time!

Hands on time is about 30 minutes the day before, to prepare the pork roll. Then you’ll need to chill this for at least 8 hours(but not more than 24 hours), and then the baking time is about 6 hours. Do a little math so you can have it ready by the time you want!

*note: To serve at 7 pm, I start baking at around 12:30pm as it takes about 6 hours or so to cook.*

So if you have all of those ready, here goes!

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Ingredients:

10-15 pounds pork belly with skin, defrosted

1/2 -3/4 cup kombucha vinegar (or white vinegar)

2-3 tablespoons sea salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 cup coarsely chopped garlic

3-5 stalks of lemon grass, tops and bottoms trimmed, then pounded with a meat tenderizer or back of the knife blade.

1 big red onion, peeled and sliced (about 1 cup)

Procedure:

1. Place the pork on a cutting board over the sink and pierce with a meat tenderizer (or fork or knife). Turn over and pierce the skin side too.

2. Pour vinegar little by little while rubbing it all over the pork. Turn the pork over and repeat with the remaining vinegar. Don’t worry about how much you’ll use as excess will just run into the sink. We do this to help dry out the skin and to help remove unpleasant odor. That in turn will make the skin crackly and crunchy and just delicious!

3. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the pork. Be generous as this is only flavoring the pork will have aside from the aromatics.

4. Turn the pork skin side down and place the lemon grass, onions, and garlic straight down the middle, horizontally on the long side.

5. Roll up the pork (I called my husband to help me), making sure the skin doesn’t overlap. It should touch in a circle, end to end – don’t make it into a pinwheel as the skin inside won’t be crisp.

6. Tie the pork in 1-2 inch intervals with kitchen twine. I held the pork roll stable and my husband tied it up. Team work!

7. Any onion or garlic that fell out, I pushed back into the roll.

8. Place the pork roll on a large baking sheet, uncovered, and chill around 8 hours (but not more than 24 hours) in the refrigerator. I prepare this at night and leave it in the fridge overnight.

9. Remove pork roll from the fridge and preheat the oven to 200F. Bake at 200F for 3 1/2 hours. This helps to dry the skin out thoroughly and start the cooking process slowly.

10. Increase temperature to 350F and continue baking for 1 1/2 hours. (*You can bake a cake together at this time since they’re usually baked at 350F).

11. Increase temperature to 450F and bake for 35 to 45 minutes more until golden brown and skin is blistered and shiny. (*You can bake a bread together this time as most breads bake at 450F for 30 minutes or so).

12. Remove from oven. Check that the internal temperature is at 170F – 200F. Let it sit for about 15 minutes before slicing.

13. Place on a cutting board, and carefully slice into rounds using a serrated knife. Be extra careful as the skin is crisp and your knife can easily slip.

14. Cut the rounds into bite sized pieces.

15. Serve with lechon sauce, or vinegar with garlic, salt, pepper, and slices of hot chili.

Enjoy!

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