Another extremely popular dish that is made in Colombia during the holidays is lechona or stuffed roasted pig. Lechona is made year round, especially at different restaurants and even grocery stores like Carulla, but Colombians love to make it at home during the holidays. They usually buy a pig, kill it, and use the meat and skin to make lechona and Colombian sausages. I know is sounds rough and barbaric, but they have been doing it for years. Many times they also buy it from a reputable butcher that sells clean and ready to stuff pigs.
At home I like to make a homestyle lechona with just a few pounds of pork skin for two reasons. For one, I don’t feel comfortable stuffing a baby pig at home having its face stare at me the whole time I’m filling it with rice and meat. I know it is completely hypocritical but I just can’t bring myself to do that. And the other reason is because a full pig, no matter how small, will feed between 30-50 people and at home it’s just my husband and I for the most part, so that would be way too much food for us to eat.
Another traditional step I don’t follow is using a needle and kitchen twine to sew it up to make a big cushion filled with the lechona goodies. The skin is way too tough to sew it shut and since you’re ripping it apart to eat it at end anyway, I really don’t see the point in doing that. Lazy? Yes. Time efficient? Absolutely. 😊
One big piece of advise I have for you is to make sure you get a nice, extremely clean and fresh piece of pork skin (or pig if you’re making a whole pig). I’m talking from experience because using old skin with a nasty odor will turn your lechona into the most disgusting thing you will ever eat. Lesson learned!
1 tsp food coloring (Sazón Goya, Triguisar or homemade)
Salt & pepper to taste
2 lbs pork meat (sirloin, boneless ribs, etc.)
¼ cup (4 tbsp) pork lard
3 green onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp food coloring (Sazón Goya, Triguisar or homemade)
6 cups (3.3 lb) cooked rice (you can add some food coloring to the rice if you want)
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup (150 g) cooked yellow peas (you can substitute them with green peas)
2 lb pork skin
½ cup (120 ml) sour orange juice (you can make it by mixing juice of 2 oranges with juice of 4 limes)
In a food processor blend the green onion, white onion, cumin, food coloring, salt and pepper into a paste. If it's too thick you can add a few tablespoons of water. Cut the pork meat into pieces (optional) and then put it in a large resealable bag. Pour the marinade all over the meat, massage it to make sure it's completely covered, seal it and leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
Rinse the pork skin with water and pat dry well with paper towels. Liberally season the underside with salt to make the skin crispier during baking. Set aside.
Melt the pork lard in a large pan over medium heat, add the green onion, garlic, cumin, and food coloring and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the cooked rice and stir to fully coat it with the onion mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pre-heat the oven at 400ºF (204ºC).
Cover a large roasting pan with aluminum foil and place the pork skin inside the pan with the underside facing up and the excess skin outside the pan. Baste with the sour orange juice and then place one layer with ½ of the amount of rice. Then, place a layer with ½ of the amount of pork meat over the rice. Follow with a layer of yellow peas, another layer with the rest of the meat, and finally a layer with the last amount of rice. Fold the skin over the rice and pin it down with poultry pins or lacers. Baste the skin one more time with the sour orange juice and bake for 4-5 hours or until the pork skin is dark, golden brown and crispy. Make sure it doesn't burn.
Let the lechona rest for a few minutes and then serve a portion of rice with a few pieces of pork skin, Colombian arepas and lime wedges.