Lechon is the centerpiece of many grand Filipino celebrations. But, for a twist on an old favorite, cochinillo or lechon de leche—a roast piglet—is something you may want to consider. Because young pigs are used, cochinillo is milkier and juicier. But their balat is no less burnished or crackling when roasted right.
Tinee de Guzman, dubbed Mr. Cochinillo, has perfected his formula of roasting cochinillo del cielo, which he cooks in customized brick ovens in his pork shack. Because it's highly seasoned, cochinillo needs no liver sauce. De Guzman's prized piglets have earned him praise, including from TV host Bobby Chin of World Café.
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Marinating with a special mixture using de Guzman's secret recipe.
Massaging thoroughly every time a new ingredient is added on to the meat.
A generous pour of olive oil before roasting.
Salt is added last to retain juiciness.
Basting the cochinillo with olive oil for a crispy finish.
Aluminum foil should be wrapped on the ears and tail to avoid it from burning.
A small plate can slice through a cochinillo. It also makes an impressive way of serving.
1. Thoroughly clean piglet, preferrably one that's sourced locally. Scorch excess hair using a burner and trim hooves and the claws.
2. Marinate the pig and store in a freezer to allow the flavor to develop.
3. Before roasting, air dry pig to remove excess liquid. Rub with a mixture of olive oil and salt. Wrap foil around the ears and tail to avoid burning.
4. Baste with olive oil to keep skin crispy at intervals within the 5 to 6 hours it takes to roast the pig.
5. Rest the pig for 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving.
Notes: For leftovers (if there are any), freeze the meat. Reheat in the oven at 232°C for 20 to 3o minutes. Baste with olive oil to add moisture.
Mr. Cochinillo 5 Parakeet St. cor Swallow Drive, Green Meadows Ave, Meycauayan, Bulacan +632 633 0043, +63 999 881 0810 www.mrcochinillo.com Order a week in advance. Mr. Cochinillo also offers spanferkel (German roast pig), babi guling (Indonesian roast pig), and fiduea (Spanish seafood pasta).
Photographs by Pat Mateo and Jar Concengco
This story first appeared in Vault Magazine Issue 18 2014.