A tough one to say. “Pack-C-Ew”. Lechon is what we know as a pig roast, but better. I think the Filipino culture, hands down, has the roasted pig mastered. The skin, the crispy skin, and the moist and flavorful pork is truly out of this world. Cooked to perfection, a sight for all eyes, the lechon is a masterpiece, and I was able to participate in a lechon festivity this past weekend.
Typically lechon is served at around the holiday festivities, or possibly a birthday party, but this past weekend was special. A gathering of brothers three brothers. One from the Philippines, one from Los Angeles, and one from Wisconsin. One who is a bit eclectic, another very lazy, and one on the move. One thing they have in common is knowing what laid back means. Taking life easy, and enjoying everything. Respectful, intelligent, generous, and loving. Qualities that I attempt to achieve, and excellent role models for not only their kids, but also their grandchildren.
Weeks prior, excitement filled the room when there was a discussion about family coming into town. The gathering of the brothers, however one missing, Ben, the majority as there, and sufficient to throw a party, and a party at that. A “small” pig was part of the discussion. I will admit, I was excited, truly excited. My high school graduation party was celebrated around lechon, not delivered, but setup by my Dad, and others. I remember that clearly, and I think for many of us out there, it is hard to forget about a pig roast. There is something about it, and there is something about this past weekend.
Fun, lechon, and mahjong. A party starting at 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon, and ending at 2:00 in the morning, is something to be said. Conversations surrounded the pig, and as I was honored to butcher the pig, I asked many questions regarding the lechon, and in particular, how they (my Filipino relatives) would use this pork for leftovers.
I heard the word Paksiw throughout the evening. Every time I heard it, there seemed to be smiles in the room. Smiles of comfort. Smiles and thoughts of those remembering this dish, either growing up, or something that is not made often, but smiles of comfort and joy. As soon as I latched on to that, I prompted those smiles with questions. Ingredients, spelling, pronunciation and meaning of that famous word; Paksiw.
I got it. I could almost smell it. Vinegar, garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, and leftover lechon. Slow cooked and served with rice. A stew that is so amazing, and one that is great as you can make it your own, meaning, a bit sour, a bit sweet, a bit spicy. This is one that you can make, and make again, and tweak along the way. Make it your own.
Mine, listed below is a bit sour on the vinegar side, but packed with hints of garlic, cinnamon, and herbs. I can smell it now, and taste it as well. The picture does not sell it, but trust me, it does prove to be comfort, true comfort, and a great slow cooked meal for any occasion.
- Leftover lechon, or pork shoulder from your roast, rough chopped
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
- 1 bottle (approximately 2 cups) of Mang Tomas Sauce
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 4 bay leaves
- 1/4 brown sugar
- 1 cup of white vinegar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 tbsp of black pepper
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- Salt to taste
- Cooked rice
Get a large pot ready, and place the stove over medium heat. Add in everything. Mix, and cover. Bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to low, cooking for approximately 3 hours. Taste. More pepper? More salt? More sugar? Well, you know.
Once you are ready to serve, plate up with a pile of rice, and a heaping spoonful of paksiw lechon. You will have flavors that are going to rock your socks off. You will get notes of vinegar and garlic to bat. Take your time and you get the notes of the oregano, the thyme, and the cinnamon. Slow cooked, delicious, and comforting. A great meal, and one that really reminds me of Filipino adobo.