Food Culture, Recipes

Recipe for Lechón, Cuzco’s Festive Roast Pork

Lechón and Tamales

The traditional dish of Cuzco’s All Saints (Todos Santos) and many other celebrations is a delicious roast pork called lechón. No one can resist its temptations during this feast, especially on what locals call the Day of the Living, when this typical dish that spent a day resting in condiments before going to the ovens and appearing on plates seems to symbolize the vitality and flavor of life.

When family gathers on the day of the living lechón is the dish they eat, whether they made it themselves or whether they bought it at one of the many stands where fresh-made lechón is offered.    There is such a great demand for lechón this day that the Municipality of Cuzco organizes its sale on many of the principal streets and in the main squares of the city and its suburban towns.  Each has a different flavor depending on the skill of the cook and the combination of condiments they use.

This dish is accompanied by Cuzco’s famous tamales.  Made of meal from Cuzco’s white corn these come in both sweet and savory styles.  Together with a large serving of lechón the two make the dish complete.

One place famous for lechón is the district of Huarocondo in the Province of Anta on a high plateau above the City.  Named by its municipality “the Land of Lechón”  because many hog farms are located in this district Huarocondo is famous for offering a great variety of lechón as well as the most delicious servings known in Peru.

Traditionally Huarocondo is very visited on the first of November, the Day of the Living, since an event is organized that attracts many people to celebrate the day and eat its amazing lechón.  On this day the Municipality of Huarocondo presents musical groups and drawings so that its guests may enjoy themselves and have a good time.

Larger than Life Representation of Lechón Maker from Huarocondo
Larger than Life Representation of Lechón Maker from Huarocondo

Once one arrives at its plaza one can see the colonial church that the town claims with its murals from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  We also see a variety of tents put up by the women of the town each offering their own variety of lechón at good prices for our pocketbooks.  Often as one walks among the tents, the women will offer a taste of their lechón to try to tempt you as you try to decide where to eat.   If we are lucky we may even see the clay ovens installed by their homes where the pork is roasted and we might even see large lechónes roasting.

Besides the Day of the Living, this dish is present in almost all of Cuzco’s festivities, whether they are birthdays, marriages, or others.  It is typical of Cuzco and its social life.     In what follows we offer a local recipe of lechón given to us by Dpña Mercedes Morveli that you can adapt and try in your home.

Lechón

(For 10 persons)

Ingredients

1. 5 kg. Pork roast (preferably with the skin still attached)

2. 10 limes

3. 1/4 pkg. of  seasoning, Consisting of the following ingredients mixed together.

a. garlic 50g.

b. cumin 50 g,

c. salt 200g ,

d. ground pepper 50g

e. yellow aji (or other yellowish mild chile)  200 g,

f. diced ginger 10g,

g. Soy sauce 2 tsp.

h. onion.

Preparation

The day before you plan to serve the roast.

1 Squeeze lime juice onto the pork skin

2.Condiment the pork by rubbing it with the seasoning.

3. Add onion.

4. Let the pork set in your refrigerator or other cool place for an entire day .

5. Bake it in a medium oven until done.

6. Cut into large pieces.

7. Serve accompanied with Tamales or Bread, preferably bread from Oropesa.

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