Oven Roasted Pork Belly (Lechon Kawali)
Filipinos love their pork, which is the reason why we have so many dishes that uses pork. One of these is Lechon Kawali. Lechon Kawali is a deep fried slab of pork belly that is cooked to a crisp. The traditional way of cooking this is to first simmer the meat in water with aromatics until tender. Then refrigerating it for several hours to dry the skin before deep frying it in oil. The last step is quite messy and difficult since the oil usually creates a lot of splatters.
I discovered that you can make Lechon Kawali the easy way by roasting it in the oven. I watched several video tutorials and this is what I came up with.
First, take a slab of pork belly and clean it by rubbing with salt and thoroughly rinsing with water. Pat dry with paper towels. Lay it on a cutting board skin side up and prick the skin all over making sure not to puncture the fat layer. Then turn it over and make horizontal slits on the meat side. Season the meat side with salt and white pepper. Turn over again and season skin with just salt. Place pork belly slab on a pan skin side up and refrigerate uncovered for a minimun of 8 hours, overnight would be ideal.
Take it out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking so that the meat could come to room temperature. Pre-heat oven to 395F. Place your pork belly slab on top of foil big enough to create a seal that would cover sides and bottom of your meat. Place these on a cooking rack or pan. Brush the pork belly skin with about 2 tbsp. of white vinegar then cover the entire skin with course salt. Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes. (Note: I used 5.5 lbs of pork belly) Take out of oven and remove the salt that would have created a crust by this time. Place meat on a baking rack and broil for about 10-15 minutes. I broiled the meat with the oven door open so I can watch it and rotate every so often. Take out of oven once the skin has become puffed and crisped all over.
Let rest for a few minutes before cutting into small pieces. Serve with lechon sauce and steamed white rice.