Cebu lechons get a lot of mention on this blog and elsewhere, and particularly since I consider myself to be â€œCebuano.â€ I have written quite a bit about lechons before, and what I think constitutes the best lechon, and finally, did a recipe for an interesting lechon paksiw with the leftovers. In the past few months, I have tried by hook or by crook to get myself invited into the heart of the top lechon makers in Cebu, to see exactly how a good Cebu lechon is made. I have not been successful. Folks guard their methods like gold. The sneaky approach of talking to a previous employee of one of the more venerated lechon houses is the next step but I havenâ€™t found anyone yet. And doing my normal trial and error approach can get pricey if I have to fool around with 6-9 lechons, not to mention the cholesterol! So my quest to find the keys to a Cebu lechon is still in process. But I did the next best thingâ€¦ I dissected a cebu lechonâ€¦
Split in half, the enormous cavity within is filled chockfull with aromatics. But first, where the heck did all the innards go? And how do they get the innards without slicing up the stomach with a scalpel? Who the heck reaches in there to grab the gooey stuff? Ewww, is right. I suppose thatâ€™s the reason for the generous bowl of dinuguan that comes with the lechon, but the poor pig looked totally disemboweled and more! If I had that much space in my internal sections I could eat a WHOLE lot more than I do now. At any rate, the cavity seemed to be filled with TONS and TONS of lemongrass, green onions, sliced onions, whole cloves of garlic, probably rubbed extensively with knorr cubes, cracked black pepper and lots of salt. The glistening skin was probably basted with something, possibly a sugared concoction. The reason the ribs are so spectacularly good is that all the stuff inside cooks and flavors the meat nearest the ribs, thus the most delicious meat can be had just about there.
The two lechons we ordered this holiday season were from Lechon Family in Quezon City. The first lechon was disappointingly makunat and far from the best we have had. I think it was riding around in the delivery van for hours before it got to us. In fact, before we took delivery of the second lechon, I had one of my crew call them and tell them they better send something that tastes like the old lechons they used to deliver or it was time to switch to Elarâ€™s or some other well-thought of lechoneros. The second one arrived in much better and despite coming off the flame at least 2 hours before, still remained quite crisp. If you plan to order a lechon, wherever you source it from, try to pick it up yourself just as soon as it comes off the fire then rush it home straight away. Because the most important key to a good crisp skin is to make sure the lechon has just come off of the fire, and steam is still coming out of its butt. I hope you all get your fill of the delicious beast this Christmasâ€¦ Hmmm, that does it, I covered the top 3 dishes for the holidays based on the marketmanila poll â€“ Ham, Lechon and Roast Beef! Lechon Family, Cubao – 724-9353. Gourmet Lechon, Pasig – 829-7922. Gigi, a regular reader and lechon expert, also suggests Loring’s (supplier to Erap daw), San Juan 725-2580 and her all-time favorite, Elar’s (Imelda’s source?) at 731-7551. We really have to try one of the last two as so many folks have been raving about these lechons…