Hornado de Chancho is a common dish in Ecuador, typically served during special occasions like the holidays. It is marinated for 3 days or so in garlic, beer and other spices, and then baked for hours with even more beer and spices. This is an adaptation of that dish, made with a whole wild pork leg rather than domestic.
Because it is usually not practical to remove hair from a wild hog in the field (unless if you've got a giant bathtub of scalding water on hand), wild hogs are typically skinned like most other game animals. Not only that, their hair is also courser, thicker and fuller than domestic pigs, making it more difficult and time consuming to remove, especially if you're not an experienced butcher or pig farmer. This is unfortunate because you lose a lot of that delicious fat that would have helped to keep the meat moist, like the fat on domestic pigs. For this reason, we had to take extra care in making sure that our leg did not dry out in the oven.
And because we like to wrap everything in tortillas at the Nguyen-Wheatley household, we used the meat to make tacos. We apologize to any Ecuadoreans who think this is blasphemy. Americans have an obsession with wraps and sandwiches.
We thank Ronnie, one of Rick's former customers at Turner's Outdoorsman in CA, for providing the meat for this recipe. Ronnie went hog hunting in Texas, and as promised, he came through and brought us back a whole leg! We are very excited because this is our first wild pig recipe on this blog, and we hope to provide you with more in the future.
Servings: 20 (2 tacos each)
Prep Time: 3 days (resting and marinating)
Cook Time: 6 hours
- 10-pound whole wild pork leg (skinless)
- juice of 2 limes
- 20 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of ground cumin
- 3 tablespoons of kosher salt
- 1/2 tablespoon of ground black pepper
- 1 1/4 cup of pork lard (manteca)
- 8 cups of beer for marinating, plus 6 cups of beer for baking
- 2 tablespoons of achiote powder (ground annatto seeds)
- 8 yukon gold potatoes, cut in half or thirds
We got our leg with the hoof or trotter still intact. If you find yourself in the same predicament, cut around the circumference where the leg bends above the hoof. Cut through the tendons and meat with a sharp knife until you hit bone. Then twist the joint, which should disconnect. If needed, work your knife between the joint to disconnect any tendons and cartilage.
1. Clean leg as much as possible, making sure to remove any hair and blood clots. With a sharp knife, remove as much silver skin as you can from the leg. It doesn't have to be perfect. If your leg has its skin still intact, then don't worry about the silver skin.
2. In a bowl, combine the minced garlic, ground cumin, salt and pepper. Squeeze lime juice all over the leg. Then make incisions all over and stuff with garlic mixture. Rub the rest of the mixture on the leg.
Let the leg rest in the refrigerator, covered, for 24 hours.
3. After 24 hours, pour 8 cups of beer over the pork leg. Use cheap beer. No use in wasting good beer for cooking.
Cover and put the leg back in the refrigerator and let it marinate for 48 hours. Flip the leg over 3 to 5 times over the course of these two days. We flipped it when we left for work in the morning, and then flipped it again when we got back home, then before bed.
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Discard beer marinade and place leg in a roasting pan. Rub 1 tablespoon of achiote powder over the leg and place dabs of lard over the top of the leg, about 1/4 cup.
Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees F.
5. Meanwhile, melt 1 cup of lard in a saucepan and mix in the remaining 1 tablespoon of achiote. Add 6 cups of beer and bring to a simmer.
Then lower the oven to 350 degrees F. Take the pork leg out and bathe it with the beer and lard mixture. Then cover the pan with foil and return to the oven. To keep the leg from drying out, you need to baste the leg every 30 minutes. The foil helps to keep the leg moist. You're essentially braising the meat since there is no skin to keep the meat from drying.
6. After 3 hours, flip the leg over. Then lower heat to 325 degrees F and cook for 2 more hours, continuing to baste the leg with the pan juices every 30 minutes. Continue to cook covered with foil or lid.
7. Then add the potatoes and sprinkle a generous pinch of salt over them. Cover the pan again and cook for an additional hour, or until potatoes are tender. Total cooking time should be 6 hours for a 10 pound leg.
8. Shred or cut meat into slices. Serve with your favorite salsa, avocado slices, hominy, tortillas or rice.