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, garlic 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 whole pork leg
- 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 and 6 cups of beer for baking
- 12 ounces of butter (3 sticks)
- 2 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
- 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).
- Prepare the “aliño” by mixing the crushed garlic, ground cumin, salt and pepper.
- Drizzle the lime juice all over the pork leg.
- Make several deep incisions on both sides of pork leg and begin stuffing the incisions with the “aliño”, also rub the “aliño” all over the meat. Let rest for 24 hours in the fridge.
- Pour the 8 cups of beer over the pork leg and let it marinade for another 48 hours, turning the leg every 6-8 hours.
- Pre-heat oven to 400F (200C), let the pork leg bake for about 30 minutes.
- 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.
- Lower the oven temperature to 350F and pour the melted butter mix on the pork leg.
- To keep the pork leg from drying out you will need to “bañar” or bathe the pork leg using a soup ladle with the pan sauces about every 20 minutes.
- When the pan sauces start to dry up, melt the remaining 2 butter sticks on low heat, mix in the remaining 6 cups of beer and 1 tablespoon of ground achiote and pour over the pork leg. Make sure the mix is hot to keep the pork skin from cracking.
- Turn the pork leg over after about 3 hours of cooking and lower the temperature to 325F. Continue bathing every 20 minutes.
- After 3 hours, turn the leg back over, some of the skin might have begun to peel off due to being directly in the sauce, try to place the skin back in place and bake for the last 2 hours. Add the potatoes at this point if you want to bake the potatoes with the pig leg, they will absorb the yummy sauces and be delicious.
- Total roasting time should be about 8 hours for a 20 pound pork leg, internal temperature should be 160.
- Before removing the leg from the oven, sprinkle cold water on the skin for it to “reventar” or pop (this is 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. Other popular side dishes for hornado include rice, yuca, and llapingachos.