We have a gardener who has been with us for many years. He comes in a couple of times a week and he is responsible for the terrific state of our yard and garden plants (since I seem to kill any plants that I come in contact with). Over the years, we have helped him construct or upgrade his house, get him connected to running water, got him a new racing bike to make the 15 kilometer commute each way a little easier, found him new part-time jobs so that his week is fully booked and generally tried to be good employers. I’m sure he thinks I am just slightly off-kilter since I seem to have this strange habit of photographing food outdoors in the yard… At his home, he maintains a small piggery to augment his income. Yesterday, Sunday, he rang the doorbell and dropped off the entire â€œpataâ€ or hind thigh of a pig that he had slaughtered earlier in the day. It turns out that it was his daughterâ€™s birthday (must have been a critical age below ten, is there a special number like 7 I donâ€™t know about?) and he had killed a pig and was generously sharing the bounty. What really made this incredibly wonderful gesture so amazing is that he biked all the way from Marikina on his day off just to bring us the pata!
Straight out of the plastic bag, it looked like the thigh of the hind leg of a pigâ€¦letâ€™s just say it was a bit â€œrawâ€ looking. If I knew how to cure a ham properly, the entire thigh would have made a terrific ham, I am sure. But once it was carved up and a ready for cooking, you could see a terrific crispy pata in the makingâ€¦ We placed the pata in a pot with water to cover, added a roughly chopped onion, some bay leaves, peppercorns, a little vinegar and some salt and gently simmered this for about 60-80 minutes. The liquid was drained off and the pata cooled and then refrigerated for several hours. At dinnertime, a large kawali or pan with lots of vegetable oil was heated up and the cold pata was deep fried until the skin got incredibly crisp and had the characteristically blistered look. We sliced it up and served it on a small platterâ€¦ it looked and tasted terrificâ€¦incredibly lean, yet tasty yet a limited amount of fat! We served it with a sawsawan or sauce of chopped tomatoes, onions, chillis and soy sauce and a second sauce option was some bottled lechon sauce we keep in stockâ€¦ It easily served 6 hungry adults. Yum, definitely one of the best crispy patas we have had in a while! Thank you, Gardenman!
P.S. I just spoke to Gardenman who has arrived for work today and he explained that the pata came from a young pig, a favorite of his, slaughtered for his favorite daughter… it was (the pig) just four months old hence the flavorful lean meat and absence of huge fat deposits…superb!