Chancho for Dinner

Chancho is a Honduran word -- it's used to say, Pig.  This cut, the leg of the animal is the same as we would probably call Ham in the US, but well, Ham is not something I am well versed on, except to say I like it -- I just haven't baked it or roasted it or smoked it or ... well, you get the idea.

This is Chancho Guindado -- or Hanging Pig

Like many other things we saw when visiting Santa Lucia and Valle de Angeles last weekend, this stand with legs hanging caught our attention.  As soon as I saw it I began thinking of chicharrones and a moist piece of pork -- the kind my friend makes when he makes his infamous Pernile.  I HAD to have one, but our fearless protector, Elias told us we should not purchase from the street and he would tell us the best place to make our purchase during the ride home.  And so we followed his sage advice and made our purchase on the way back to San Pedro at a place that was doing a brisk business during the holidays.

The only cut available was the leg.  Pernile is usually made using Pork Shoulder, Picnick or Butt, but this would have to do.

Roasted Chancho Paste

I wanted to make a Pernil like my friend with the crunchy chicharrones on top so I scoured Food Gawker and did some judicious Googling and came up with a kind of hybrid recipe.  The ingredients are in the collage.  What look like green oranges are actually a mandarin orange/lemon.  Yes, lemon -- limes are yellow here.  Confusing?  Yes, but you'll get used to it.

Preheat the oven to 425º

  • Lemon
  • Garlic -- LOTS of garlic -- this was a 15 lb. leg and I used 16 cloves
  • Peppercorns -- I only have the mix of black pepper, allspice and red pepper, but it works well
  • Olive Oil -- 1/2 cup

Mash it into a paste

Using a very sharp knife, score the fat first one way across the leg and then in the opposite direction to create a diamond shape design.  This will be the chicharrones.

Put the pork into a large roasting pan and roast at 425º for 20 minutes.  Turn the heat down to 275º and cover the pan with aluminum foil to create a seal.  This will help lock in the moisture and cook the meat for a long time without drying out.

Continue cooking for 5 hours, basting every 30 - 45 minutes, taking care to wrap the roast tightly again.

When done, remove the foil and turn the heat back up to 450º to create the chicharrones.  It will take time to get this done.  You want the fat to render, leaving only the flavorful crunch.  Keep your eye on it so it does not burn.  The lower rack of the oven is the best place for this.

Remove from the oven, let sit for 20 minutes and serve.

Chancho in the bag

Rub the paste on the leg and then put that sucker in the thickest, strongest bag you have, place it in a pan to catch any unexpected leaks and let it marinate for 4 hours, and overnight if possible.

Chancho Roasting

Basting the Chancho

It's almost done.  I had this for a few days and I'm still ready to dive into the picture!  The amount of meat on this leg was incredible.  While there was a big bone, it took a lot of slicing to get to it so it's been leftover city at Fran's house this week.

Chancho Terminado!

Plated Chancho

And as if all of this wasn't enough, I had to go and do this for dessert.

Chocolate and Nut Dipped Salted Caramel Pears

There is so much to say and show you regarding the time spent at Santa Lucia and Valle de Angeles that it looks like it's going to be a 4 part series of blog posts.  Stay tuned for more, including my version of Panqueques Fritas.

My version of Panqueques Fritas