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The Hirshon Filipino Roast Pig - Cebu Lechon

The Hirshon Filipino Roast Pig – Cebu Lechón

  • Total Time: 0 hours


Units Scale
  • 1 whole young pig, about 27 lbs. cleaned (live weight about 44 pounds)
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • Silver Swan soy sauce
  • ***
  • For basting:
  • 1 liter 7 Up
  • 1 liter diluted evaporated milk made from 3 parts evaporated milk + 1 part coconut water (TFD change, original recipe used just regular water)
  • Oil
  • ***
  • For the stuffing:
  • 10 lemongrass stalks, each cut in 1/2 and tied together in a bundle
  • 1/4 cup whole star anise, then ground to a powder in a spice grinder
  • 1/4 cup bay leaf powder
  • 5 cups crushed garlic cloves
  • 4 1/2 pounds scallions, minced
  • 1 cup minced celery leaves (TFD addition)
  • 1 1/2 cups ginger paste (TFD addition)
  • 10 peeled plantains (half-cooked through boiling)
  • 1/8 cup coarsely cracked white peppercorns (TFD addition)
  • 1/8 cup coarsely cracked black peppercorns (TFD addition)
  • 1/8 cup turmeric powder (TFD addition)
  • 1 tbsp. MSG (Optional but recommended TFD addition)


  1. Cleaning: Rinse the pig and clean the inside, wash and scrub the lumps of blood inside the cavity until thoroughly clean.
  2. Pat it dry and rub the pig with salt and pepper from inside and out. Brush the inside cavity with soy sauce.
  3. First, wash all work surfaces with hot water and soap. If your surface is too difficult to wash, cover it with a tarp and wash the tarp.
  4. Remove the pig from the body bag.
  5. Take the pig and insert the spit rod into one end – it doesn’t matter which on most spits. Slide the rod through it’s open body cavity and out the hole on the other side.
  6. If your spit is much larger than 1″ in diameter then you will understand why we asked the butcher to break the hip bones – in order to slide out the back of the pig.
  7. Slide the pig into position along the spit until you’ve got it centered in place. Remember to leave room for the legs to get tied in front and in back of the pig.
  8. With the pig in place and the chest cavity facing up, it’s time to stuff the pig. Remember that the more you put inside the pig, the more mass there is to cook, and that means the greater the chance that the meat will dry out or the skin will over-crackle while you’re waiting for the center to come to temperature.
  9. Stuff the belly with a thoroughly-mixed stuffing (except the lemongrass). Put the bundle of lemongrass in the center of the pig on top of the other stuffing ingredients. Close the pig up by stitching the belly.
  10. Start at one end and simply sew the pig shut all the way to the other. You can use a variety of stitches to close the pig, but what’s easiest to me is just to grab the two laters of skin, hold them together like a fabric seam, and stitch them together using big looping stitches.
  11. Use a giant sewing needle for meat for this step – trust me. Stitch it well so that ingredients will not spill out when you start to roast it.
  12. These lightly-edited directions from are perfect as to how to set up the pit:
  13. Before you start operating on the patient, fire up your pit and get it up to 225°F and stabilized. Start the fire by crumpling at least six sheets of newspaper and placing them in the bottom of the wheelbarrow or grill. Squirt some cooking oil on them, not charcoal fluid. Dump one 18 pound bag of charcoal on top and light the newspaper in several locations.
  14. I recommend charcoal briquets because they ignite easily, burn steadily, and they are consistent batch to batch. Read more about your fuel options in my article on the Science of charcoal.
  15. When they are covered in a thin layer of ash, shovel them off to the side of the pit, but never under the space where the hog will lie. You want to cook this baby with convection heat flowing up and around it rather than under it. Put a few extra coals in the four corners so the hams and shoulders get a bit more heat.
  16. You can use hardwood, but you need to burn it down to glowing embers. Don’t put raw logs onto the fire. After about 10 minutes, use your shovel to shuffle the coals around so they all light evenly. When the coals are ready, shovel them into the four corners of the pit with a little extra at the end where the hams will go.
  17. Getting the temp right, and keeping it there is tricky. If you can do a dry run the day before, without the hog, that would be ideal. Set a probe on the cooking grate in the center and walk away for at least 30 minutes. Shoot for 225° but you will not suffer if it runs up to about 250°F.
  18. Constantly glaze pig while it slowly roasts – first with 7 Up in the first 2 hours, then with diluted milk for the remaining cook time, using a sponge for both. The 7 Up glaze will make the skin extra crispy and the diluted milk will give the skin a red color.
  19. Occasionally brush the skin with oil to help it achieve its characteristic shine. Roast for about 3 to 4 hours until the meat is tender. Do not overcook! Watch the ears and snout closely towards the end – if they start to brown too fast, wrap them in foil.
  20. Test the meat temp in several spots including the thickest part of the thigh, you want it about 185°F. No harm will be done if you go over or under 10°F but try to keep it in 180-185 range. The meat will continue to carryover cook when you remove it from the pit. Keep an eye on the skin. There’s a lot of fat under it and if it springs a leak you could have an inferno. Don’t let it burn. (TFD note – this paragraph was cribbed and slightly modified from the great site
  21. After it is roasted, you can now chop it and serve to your guests or have it brought whole to the grand table
  22. TFD also likes to eat the stuffing mixture (but discard the lemongrass).
  • Prep Time: 0 hours
  • Cook Time: 0 hours

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