Coming from a Chinese background, I must admit that our holiday dinners involved quite a different menu: chicken, fish, vegetables, rice, soup, Chinese roast pork… Nonetheless, these four dishes have grown on me so deep, that I can only recall not having them in two occasions.
I was overseas in both of them and I did not know how to prepare them by myself from scratch. You see, I was a student with basic cooking skills to survive… you know how it is…
I have already posted about the Venezuelan Ham Bread and Chicken Salad, now is the turn for the Roast Pork Leg.
It is similar to Roast Turkey in the sense of the time it takes to prepare and the fact that it can easily make anyone feel overwhelmed by just looking at the size of it!
The first time I attempted to prepare it, I went for a pork loin; for two reasons mainly: it was smaller and easier to handle and pork legs were sold out. Yes, it is that popular to prepare during the holidays.
I followed Don Armando Scannone´s recipe to the dot. The only change made was that I had to adjust the quantities because of the weight difference between the loin and the leg.
I looked after that pork loin like if it was a newborn baby and read the recipe over and over to make sure no steps were missed. And it was well worth it. It resulted in such a beautiful roast with amazing flavors, juicy on the inside and caramelized on the outside.
So I proudly wrapped it and brought it to my parent´s house for dinner (I was already married and had moved out from my parent’s house for a few years).
It was the very first time I ever brought anything for a holiday dinner. At my parent´s house, the kitchen is mum´s territory; so while I lived there I never attempted to prepare much. Mum is such an awesome cook and she takes so much pride with her dishes, that even after I moved out I didn´t consider appropriate to bring any food.
But I thought this time was acceptable because: it was not a Chinese dish, mum didn´t know how to prepare it and I would present it as an optional dish (not part of the main menu). You might be wondering why all the fuss about it. Well, believe me when I tell you that it is a big deal in Chinese culture.
It was so tasty and delicious, that neither my brother nor my husband believed that I had prepared it from scratch. They kept asking me questions about where I had bought the pork loin, whether it was already prepared with herbs and spices from the shop and how did I cook it.
Can you guess their final conclusion? “The pork loin was already seasoned and prepared with herbs and spices”. Why? Because it was really good and it was nicely tied with a string when I bought it. They just couldn´t believe that I had prepared it from scratch. They even made me wonder and doubt myself! Can you believe it?
Luckily, I am a confident woman and so I bought a pork leg the next year. Guess what? Super tasty and delicious again! The rest, as you say, it´s history.
Thank you for bearing with me on this long introduction 🙂
You can find the original recipe in Spanish here. I will offer you my English translation below, since I didn´t find it on the internet, followed by my tips.
Venezuelan Roast Pork Leg
Don Armando Scannone – Mi Cocina, A la Manera de Caracas
- 1 pork leg (about 6 Kg)
- 2 big onions, ½ Kg
- 17 garlic cloves, crushed
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 9 tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
- ¼ cup wine vinegar
- 2 tsp fresh oregano, ground
- 1 thyme sprig
- 1 bay leave
- 2 cups orange juice
- 1 lime
- ½ cup wine (Moscatel or Madeira)
- ¼ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tbsp plain flour, optional
- Place chopped onion, garlic and oil in a blender. Blend well, pour in a bowl/jug and add the Worcestershire sauce, 7 teaspoons of salt, the black pepper, vinegar, oregano, thyme, bay leave and orange juice.
- Remove the excess fat of the pork. Rub with the lime. Wash, dry and rub with the remaining 2 tsp of salt.
- Rub the marinade mixture into the pork, place in a big tray and leave in the refrigerator for a whole day. Turn it and baste it a few times. The pork leg must be taken out from the refrigerator ½ hour before roasting it at 400 °F.
- Preheat oven to 400 °F.
- Place the leg in a big roasting pan. Cover completely with foil. Place in the oven and let it roast until it softens and the meat starts to pull apart from the bone, about 4 hours (40 minutes per Kg approximately).
- Turn the oven temperature up to 450 °F. Remove the foil and continue roasting, basting it once in a while and you can also turn it if necessary, in order to brown it evenly. Do this for another 60 minutes (about 10 minutes per Kg).
- Remove the pork from the oven and put aside.
- Remove the excess grease in the pan and place it on the stove over medium heat. Scrape all the nice bits at the bottom and on the sides of the pan in order to enrich and darken the gravy. Stir in the wine, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and flour. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Sieve the sauce and use a wooden spoon to press any solids against the strainer. Bring to a boil again and serve hot with the pork, which has been previously cut in thin slices and slightly sprinkled with salt.
- The leg should be left to rest for at least 2 hours before carving.
- Read the whole recipe thoroughly, several times if possible; in order to make sure you have all the ingredients and utensils you need and most importantly, to time it right so you don´t grow hungry looking at it in the oven 🙂
- If you prefer to use dried herbs, remember to halve the quantity shown on the recipe.
- I prefer to use fresh orange juice.
- Because I eat low in salt, I halve the amount of salt and then adjust if needed.
- Make sure you have plenty of room in your fridge and oven for the pork leg, including the tray 😉
- In my experience, once the foil is removed, all the juices tend to evaporate rather quickly. So I save some of the juices before putting the pork leg back in the oven.
Are you ready for the yummiest pork leg? Delicious juicy meat with a caramelized outer layer covered with an awesome gravy?
This is a showstopper, I promise! Everyone will love it and crave for more!
And if there are any leftovers, just give the thin slices a quick fry with the sauce in a frying pan. Fill a baguette with it and you will be in heaven again! This is what we do at home the day after 😉
The picture I am posting is from previous years; I shall update this post with this year´s pic later! I just wanted you to have this recipe before Christmas Eve, just in case you wanted to give it a try 🙂. It could also be prepared for New Year´s Eve dinner!
What is your favorite dish for the holidays? How do you celebrate it? I´d love to know!
Have a wonderful time everyone and keep safe!
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