From the day I learned to cook lechon kawali minus the frying, I never looked back. Lechon sa hurno is not only less greasy, it also entails less cleaning and washing. One question that I have often been asked about it, “Isn’t the rind less puffed and less crispy?” No, it isn’t. So long as you start with a good cut of belly from a young hog, of course.
So, the lechon sa hurno had been so encouraging, especially with my husband’s and kids’ praises, that I decided to cook crispy pata in the same way. While browning the pork rind to a crisp is not that hard to do with pork belly, since there is only one side with the rind, is it possible to brown the rind of a pork pata (hock) on all sides in a convection oven? Sure, it is. But let me start from the beginning.
The idea of cooking crispy pata in the convection oven formed in my head after watching a friend roast a whole pata in a turbo broiler. Of course, a turbo broiler and a convection oven operate under the same principle–fan-assisted heat–so I figured… why not?
Start by simmering the pata in plenty of salted water for a couple of hours. Throw in a whole garlic, onion, peppercorns and a bay leaf for flavor. When tender, drain and cool. To brown the rind evenly to a crisp inside the convection oven, you can either:
1) Place the pork pata on a roasting rack (with a pan underneath to catch the drippings) which will allow the heat to reach the underside.
2) Use a rotisserie if your oven has this feature.
3) Position the pork pata in a standing position just like in the photo.
The beauty of the third option is that the meat on the wide end of the pata is the part that is least exposed to the heat. You can brown the rind until it is as puffed and crispy as it can get with minimal chance of the meat drying up from the heat.
Next time, I will post a recipe of a braised dish made with a whole crispy pata–something that earned even more praises from my daughters. :)