16 Nov2009

Two Patas…

by Marketman


Whenever I go to groceries with relatively large meat sections, and it’s apparent that they butcher whole animals on the premises, I inevitably ask for particular pieces or cuts of meat, hoping they will answer in the affirmative. One half of a whole pork belly is always on my wish list. Often, when I ask for the hind legs of a pig, they inevitably answer they don’t have any, but have lots of less meaty front legs of the pig instead… So I was thrilled the other day when the butcher said they had pata or hind legs in stock. While they were bigger than the typical front leg pieces, they were still quite demure in size, so I decided to get two pieces. Back home, I thought I would try two different recipes…


The first pata was simmered for 1.5 hours in lots of water, bay leaves, peppercorns and onions and a little salt, until tenderish. This was then thoroughly cooled down, and stored covered, in the refrigerator overnight. This was destined for a crispy pata recipe.


The second pata was brined in salt water for some 15 hours or so, then dried it all off, and massaged with a spice rub I have used on baby back ribs before, here, and allowed to sit for 2 hours. I then slow cooked this leg for some 2.5 hours at 275-300F heat until just cooked through. Then I slathered it with barbecue sauce, and stuck it back into a hotter oven (375F) for another 20-30 minutes or so. I was aiming for a soft, barbecued style leg of pork. The outer portions of the meat tasted like barbecue, but the insides were pretty juicy but bland. Overall, I wasn’t too thrilled with the results.


Meanwhile, we took the other pata out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for some 45-60 minutes. Heated up a large wok and added lots of oil. When it was hot, the cook covered up her arm with protective anti-fat splatter guards, and started deep frying the pata. The first few seconds were like New Year’s Eve fireworks, but once the moisture was vaporized, the leg just sputtered in the hot fat. Yum. What is it about fried pork that is so delicious? But I have to say, I am increasingly finding all forms of crispy pata to be lacking in moisture and real flavor. The crispy skin and outer meat is higly desirable, but I am beginning to think that slow-braised recipes for pata are much better than the fried alternative… But throw in some nice acharra (papaya pickles), a sawsawan or dip of soy sauce, chillies, kalamansi or vinegar… and I suspect any quibbling about which pata is best would quickly disappear… :)



  1. atbnorge says:

    Talking about “A Tale of Two Patas” instead of “A Tale of Two Cities”… Parang nagkukumapara ng litrato—matte against the silky—or lipstick, again matte against glossy, ha, MM? Gusto ko ‘yung hindi makintab, it looks crunchier and less oily.

    Nov 16, 2009 | 4:32 pm


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  3. Rose5 says:


    Nov 16, 2009 | 4:37 pm

  4. JMLR says:

    I usually buy the front legs. My mother ingrained in me the impression that the front legs are cleaner. I’m not sure if that’s true though.

    Nov 16, 2009 | 4:55 pm

  5. Cris Jose says:

    At home, we use the front legs for crispy pata (larger surface area, more crispy skin?) and the hind legs for paksiw na pata. Although I much rather eat crispy pata in a restaurant nowadays than suffer from burns from oil splatters while frying it at home. :)

    Nov 16, 2009 | 5:43 pm

  6. juls says:

    wonderful market man!

    Nov 16, 2009 | 5:44 pm

  7. kitongzki says:

    I’m in a dilemma right now… I don’t know if I should be cooking crispy pata or lechon kawali for my birthday… lol… anyway, I have already tried your lechon kawali/bagnet recipe and everybody liked it…

    Nov 16, 2009 | 6:01 pm

  8. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    I am soooooooo hungry!!!! I’ll take either one right now……hehehehe

    Nov 16, 2009 | 7:25 pm

  9. el_jefe says:

    Here’s a Trick!!!…For a crisper pata store the simmered, salted, drained pata in the freezer until frozen…then deep fry it…the ice or the moisture in the pata actually does the trick in achieving a ”chicharon” crisp pata…An old school technique (My Grandmother’s) on the other hand calls for a constant sprinkling of cold water to achieve that ”chicharon skin”…same techinique is also applied in lechon kawali…We love our pata cooked ”sinigang sa pinaasim na burong labong” style or nilaga with ubod,and humba for daily fare…And for more festive occasions..Estfado with fried plantains and toasted pan de sal cooked in palayok…Pata Tim, Pochero and Jamonado….mmmm yummy! I really miss the extravagant Batangas fiestas during my childhood days…and our clan of competent cooks who would come up with their different versions of lengua, asado, pastel, sweets, salads etc. during family gatherings !Hehe!!!

    Nov 16, 2009 | 8:43 pm

  10. Hershey says:

    Ey MM, try using Waton Pata :))

    Nov 16, 2009 | 10:03 pm

  11. Vanessa says:

    Anti-fat spatter guards? I sure could use those for all the frying that goes on at home!

    Nov 16, 2009 | 10:45 pm

  12. neposter says:

    To avoid the fat sputtering and splashing, make sure that the pata is dry! I do this by placing it in a very low oven (100 F) for several hrs till almost dehydrated. When fired all the fat and meat comes to life again, it is hydrated by the cooking fat. i slow boil my pata and season it after the boil. I have heard other foodies powdering the just boiled pata with a little flour or corn starch and this prevents the sputtering also, and makes for a crispier version. tried that too and it works, however i like the oven drying better, i use the oven drying in fried liempo (lechon kawali) and making chicharon pork skin.

    Nov 17, 2009 | 12:09 am

  13. GayeN says:

    At home, my mom usually cooks the pata like nilagang baboy style but with pakak or kamansi in tagalog added instead of the usual veggies used for nilaga . She only uses the front leg, tastier due since it has more fat. =)

    I once saw a show in the food network where they slowly cook large pieces of meat and baby back ribs by smoking using those huge barbecue smokers. The cooked meat and ribs looked yummy!

    Nov 17, 2009 | 12:24 am

  14. zena says:

    We have long done crispy pata and lechon kawali in the tubo broiler. No oil spatters to burn you or to clean up. My nanay has perfected the art of the turbo broiler also for roast chicken. It also drains the oil so it gives the illusion of being healthier, hehe. Mang Tomas for the kids and toyo, suka, sugar, pepper, miced onions and sili for the adults. Finger-licking good!

    Nov 17, 2009 | 2:35 am

  15. Vicky Go says:

    OMG – I can feel my artery walls thickening w plaque just reading these posts!

    Change of pace, here’s a link for an article on cookbooks by Adam Gopnick in the latest New Yorker issue [What’s the recipe?: our hunger for cookbooks TNY Nov 23, 2009]


    A very long but amusing & entertaining but intelligent dissertation on cookbooks past & current. Gopnick even managed to compare reformation & counter-reformation in cooking to the same in religion, “for every whitewashed church in Germany, angels are painted on the ceilings of Roman churches …”

    Nov 17, 2009 | 3:12 am

  16. Betchay says:

    Yes my mom also said to use the front legs as they are more tender than the hind legs.It’s been a while since I ate pata — health reasons!My fave dish for pata is of course crispy pata with sawsawan of vinegar, toyo, garlic,black pepper, a little sugar and lots of onions!And it’s true, the secret to crispy chicharon like skin is dehydrating it under the sun or in the oven.Freezing is also ok but it generates too much splattering because of the moisture.Second fave dish is Pata tim.Haven’t tried cooking this but I love the pata tim from authentic Chinese resto in Binondo!Yummy!

    Nov 17, 2009 | 7:30 am

  17. Bubut says:

    we also use the front legs as the hind legs is mapanghi as the pig would wet those legs everytime they pee…. yes, the solution to splattering is the turbo broiler.. thanks for the nice photos of the pata !

    Nov 17, 2009 | 8:48 am

  18. joan says:

    MM, have you tried the crispy pata in Alejandro’s here in Cebu? Their crispy pata is crispy and tender at the same time. really good.

    Nov 17, 2009 | 9:01 am

  19. emsy says:

    i feel the same way about crispy pata…the tasty skin but often bland interior. nothing that cannot be fixed with a little sawsawan…but i wish someone can think of a recipe for tasty crispy pata meat

    Nov 17, 2009 | 10:13 am

  20. aLine says:

    Mmmmmmmm… Yuuuummm!

    Nov 17, 2009 | 11:54 am

  21. DaPalm says:

    Actually, pork patas are not very tasty. My dad cooks estofado with pata. He cooks the pata under low fire for around two days. He simmers the meat in pineapple juice, onions, and pepper until very tender. The meat then becomes very tasty. However for other pata dishes (e.g. crispy pata) the best remedy is to use a soy sauce dip composed of finely chopped onions, ground pepper, a touch of vinegar, and crushed peanuts.

    Nov 17, 2009 | 12:47 pm

  22. Joyce says:

    i prefer bagnet to crispy pata although crispy pata always reminds me of big family reunions in the province.nostalgia. once saw a korean guy enter a filipino resto here and order crispy pata and sotanghon to eat on his own. hehe.

    Nov 17, 2009 | 1:27 pm

  23. millet says:

    el jefe, first time for me to hear about ‘’sinigang sa pinaasim na burong labong” . how do you “buro” the labong?

    although i prefer the deep-fried pata, when i do it at home, turbo-broiling (convection) is my default method since i don’t have to deal with hot oil and splatters. the timing has to be perfect, though, since it’s easy to overcook this in the turbo oven..then it turns into one very hard and dry chunk.

    Nov 17, 2009 | 1:41 pm

  24. RobKSA says:

    All these posts about the pata makes me wish I’m at home right now. Good comments and suggestions; however, with regards to what is cleaner the front of hind legs I think it does not matter. The whole pig is dirty so cleaning it well will clean the whole pig, feet and all. Plus the hind leg is supposed to be meatier than the front leg isn’t it?

    Nov 17, 2009 | 2:00 pm

  25. Marketman says:

    RobKSA, I would have to agree with you. I doubt there is anything more to the hind legs smelly like urine other than an old wives tale. The pigs wallow in their pens, lie in mud/muck and other stuff. When they are slaughtered, they are washed thoroughly and sometimes put in a near boiling bath of water before their hair is removed. So I would have to say the hind legs are not likely to smell worse than the front ones. And yes, the hind legs are much meatier. And all good hams around the world are typically made from the hind legs, I would imagine. I think I would rather braise Marketman’s thighs rather than his arms if I were a pig cooking dinner… :)

    Nov 17, 2009 | 2:09 pm

  26. Bugoy says:

    I’m so hungry right now!!!!

    Nov 17, 2009 | 3:07 pm

  27. cumin says:

    DaPalm, interesting to see crushed peanuts in your sawsawan.

    Nov 17, 2009 | 5:09 pm

  28. el_jefe says:

    MM….Makikisinget lamang po…..para po kay millet request po nya. Thanks po.. Millet here’s the recipe for Burong Labong:


    * 1 PC LARGE BAMBOO SHOOT (Tinikan variety)=do use ”taywanak” or ”tambo” variety of ilonggos…=tambo or taywnak are very bitter when not properly prepared and is mainly used for ginataan… Only use ”labong” from ” kawayang tinikan” for your buro
    (Blanched tinikan turns yellowish while taywanak turns pale while)
    * WATER
    * GLASS JAR or you have KAM-AW glazed earthen jar


    *Peel the shoots and cut into thin cross wise
    *Wash thoroughly and drain
    *Arrange inside a huge jar and fill with water (Malaking Garapon)
    *Stir to avoid air packets
    *Cover and store in a dark,cool, dry place for 5 days
    *You’ll know when its ready when the color of the shoots turns pale white and the water turns colloidal with a tinge of cream, the taste and smell would turn sour like fermenting vinegar

    Burung labong recipes:

    Sinigang na Bangus sa burong labong(add lots of chili leaves instead of kangkong)

    Sinigang na Pata sa Burong labong (add whole pepper corns and some greens)

    Dinuguang may Labong (fresh or burung labong can be used to sour and extend)=Nagcarlan Laguna recipe…

    Bulanglang na labong(fresh labong)

    Ginataang labong(fresh labong)

    Labong and saluyot stewed in bagoong isda (fresh labong)

    Labong con Mike pancit( fresh labong)

    Nov 17, 2009 | 6:07 pm

  29. Gener says:

    In absence of pork legs, perhaps LAMB LEGS will fill it! Upon reading these issue few hours ago, i tried using lamb legs instead and it works. The only difference is,,,dont eat when its cold…And simply imagine that its a pork legs…

    Nov 17, 2009 | 8:05 pm

  30. Ante S says:

    MM I heard from a pots & pan salesman that if you remove the skin from the pork legs, the taste is bland, that it is the skin that gives taste to a meat. Is this true?

    Nov 18, 2009 | 12:03 am

  31. junb says:

    Yup Gener, When I was in shanghai on Business my colleague bring me to a northern muslim restaurant and order a crispy lamb leg that looks like a crispy pata. The skin is crispy enough and taste close enough to a crispy pata. I did enjoy that meal on a cold winter night with a freshly deep fried lamb leg.

    Nov 18, 2009 | 4:46 am

  32. ted says:

    @millet, when you use the turbo oven to cook your crispy pata, do you also pre-cook the pata by boiling with the ingredients MM referred to and then dry them prior? Or do you bake it raw? And what temperature do you bake the pata at?

    Nov 18, 2009 | 7:16 am

  33. millet says:

    thanks, el jefe…no salt, just plain water? i suppose i need to refrigerate it during the fermentation period?

    ted, yes, i pre-boil it in water with salt (make sure there is enough salt so that the meat inside is seasoned too, but not too much) and peppercorns until tender, and then i drain and air-dry the pata for a few hours at least. salt and pepper the surface before sticking it in the turbo – 350 degrees for about an hour, but make sure you check every 30 minutes, and turn the pata so the other side gets crisp too.

    Nov 18, 2009 | 10:33 am

  34. Jing_Bacolod says:

    bukas na ang highblood….masarap ang bawal tlaga..yum!

    Nov 18, 2009 | 2:18 pm

  35. el_jefe says:

    MILLET…you are welcome…no need to refrigerate…just put it on your kitchen table….refrigeration slows down fermentation process….yes millet….no salt…just plain water…preferablymineral water…tapped water is chlorinated…it might affect the fermentation process.

    Nov 20, 2009 | 11:14 am

  36. wil-b cariaga says:

    sometimes it’s really hard to have the cuts or parts you specifically need in some supermarkets, specially that i really dont know how it is named in tagalog or whatever filipino dialect. . . and i really have to educate myself what the meat parts are called like kasim etc hehehe

    Nov 22, 2009 | 2:56 pm

  37. rina says:

    hi MM, just a heads up. the Saveur Jan/Feb 2010 issue (The Saveur 100) has crispy pata as #27.

    Jan 4, 2010 | 2:23 pm


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