This is my recipe for whole roasted pork leg, also known as hornado de pierna de chancho in Ecuador. This roasted pork leg is prepared by marinating the pork in a sauce of beer (and orange juice), garlic, achiote (annatto), and spices. It is then slow roasted with butter and spices. Hornado is a traditional dish from Ecuador and is usually sold at stands or markets. Most of these places will roast the whole pig in a large outdoor clay oven. The traditional recipe uses a typical drink made from fermented corn called chicha instead of beer, and also uses lard instead of butter. I made this for the first time several years ago on January 1st for a “hangover recovery” lunch. I would probably do it more often but would try to find a smaller sized pig leg, maybe a 10 pound one. I wasn’t able to find the pork leg at any of the regular grocery stores and found it a local butcher’s (it was the last one they had), so if you are planning to make hornado de chancho I would recommend ordering the pork leg in advance.
Ecuadorian hornado can be found at most markets during the entire year, but it’s more traditional to prepare it a home during special occasions or holidays. It is impossible to serve this roasted pork dish by itself. The side dishes are a very important part (and this is true for many Ecuadorian dishes). I can’t imagine eating hornado without tasting the mote (hominy) or curtido or avocado in the same bite. There are a lot of options for side dishes, and these will vary from one region to another; or from one restaurant to another. The sides also depend on each person’s personal preferences (and the ingredients and time you have available). Since the pork is roasted in beer and butter, it will leave lot of juices in roasting pan. I love to add whole potatoes during the last hours, they turn out delicious and very tender since they cook in the pork sauce.
This recipe is time consuming as the pork leg needs to marinate for three days. This is the optimal way of preparing it so that all the flavors sink in to the meat, however it is possible to marinate for only a day or a couple of hours. I have another recipe for a quicker version of hornado that can be made with a smaller sized piece of meat and in less time.
Suggested side dishes for hornado roasted pork:
Whole roasted pork leg or hornado de pierna de chancho, prepared by marinating the pork in a sauce of beer, garlic and spices. Slow roasted with butter and spices.
- ~20 pound pork leg (with the bone in)
- Juice of 3 limes
- 40 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3 tablespoons of ground cumin
- 3 tablespoons of salt
- 1 tablespoon of ground pepper
- 8 cups of beer for marinating + more for baking if the juices dry up (can also use corn chicha or a mix of 6 cups beer and 2 cups of orange juice for a sweeter tangy variation)
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) of butter or lard
- 2-3 tablespoons of ground achiote or annatto powder, replace with 1 tablespoon of paprika powder if you can’t find achiote
- 8-10 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cut in half – optional (small fingerling or baby potatoes are also a good option)
- Potatoes cooked with the roasted pork or llapingacho potato patties
- Plain boiled mote or hominy, or you can also sauté some with the roasted pork gravy
- Ecuadorian style rice
- Fried ripe plantains
- Onion and tomato curtido salsa
- Agrio sauce
- Aji criollo hot sauce
- Avocado slices
- Make sure the pork leg is clean and place it in a large non-reactive roasting pan (make sure it will fit in the fridge as well as the oven). You can also use a large turkey marinating bag to marinate it in.
- Rub or drizzle the lime juice all over the pork leg,
- Prepare the “aliño” by mixing the crushed garlic, ground cumin, salt and pepper. If you want the extra rich red color, you can also add a tablespoon of achiote or annato powder to the mix.
- For extra flavor in the meat itself, make several deep incisions on the meaty parts of pork leg and begin stuffing the incisions with some of the “aliño” mix. You can also score or cut into the skin, either simple vertical or horizontal lines or a cross hatch patter, if you want it to have that look, or if you prefer you can keep the skin completely intact - either option will work for this roasted pork hornado.
- Mix the rest of "aliño” with beer (or chicha or beer and orange juice), and pour it over the pork leg.
- Let the pork leg marinate and rest for 24-72 hours in the fridge. You can turn the leg around as need (or use the marinating bag to help concentrate the marinade all around the leg).
- Pre-heat oven to 400F (200C).
- In the meantime, in a small saucepan, melt a stick of butter on low heat, stir in the 1 tablespoon of the ground achiote and mix well. You can also add a bit of salt if desired (or if using unsalted butter).
- If using a marinating bag, remove the pork from the bag and place it in - skin side up - a large roasting pan, with the marinating juices. Use paper towels to dry off the skin side up and any part of the skin that isn't in the liquid.
- Drizzle and brush the melted achiote butter mix all over the dry pork skin. Keep any remaining butter mix to use to baste the pork skin during baking - and melt the additional stick of butter with achiote as needed.
- Bake the pork leg at 400 F (200C) for about 30-45 minutes.
- Lower the oven temperature to 325F and bake for 3 hours. If the pan juices start to dry up, heat additional beer until warm with a bit of the achiote butter and add it to the pan. You can also brush and baste the pork skin directly with the achiote butter mix every hour or as needed. Rotate the baking pan as needed to keep the pork cooking evenly. If the skin starts to brown too much then cover it with foil -without pressing the foil directly on the pork skin.
- If you have space in the roasting pan and want to cook the potatoes with the pork leg, add them at this time. If the potatoes are large or medium, it's best to cut them in half to make the sure they will be fully cooked. Another option is to use fingerling or baby potatoes, they take up less space and will cook better.
- Continue baking the pork leg at 325F for another ~4 hours. The internal temperature of the pork leg should be 160F when it is done. If you covered the pork leg with foil remove it during the last 30 minutes to allow the skin to get crispy. You can also sprinkle some cold water on the skin and then put the oven on broil for the last 5 minutes (optional).
- Serve with your choice of side dishes including the potatoes baked with the pork leg, mote blanco frito, curtido de cebolla y tomate, avocado slices, lettuce, and aji hot sauce. Other popular side dishes for hornado include rice, boiled yuca or cassava, habas or fava beans, and llapingacho potato patties.