Traditional Bolivian Christmas Recipes: Lechón al Horno (Pork Roast)

by Alura Gonzales
(Santa Cruz, Bolivia)

Lechón al Horno (Pork Roast) is one of the Bolivian recipes that have become a Christmas tradition in this country. Suckling pig is typically used for this recipe. "A suckling pig is a piglet fed on its mother's milk... In culinary terms, a suckling pig is slaughtered between the ages of two and six weeks... The meat from suckling pig is pale and tender and the cooked skin is crisp and can be used for pork rinds. The texture of the meat can be somewhat gelatinous due to the amount of collagen in a young pig... The word lechón originated from the Spanish term leche (milk); thus lechón refers to a suckling pig that is roasted." Source.


1 suckling pig (6 ½ lbs.)
2 lemons

For the marinade:

1 cup vinegar
½ cup oil
1 tablespoon roasted and ground garlic (8 cloves)
1 tablespoon minced thyme
½ cup finely minced parsley
1 cup red pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
Cayenne and/or black pepper and salt to taste


Clean the suckling pig and rub the inside and outside of the pig well with the lemon juice. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade and rub the pig thoroughly with the mix. It must be left to stand for one night.

Next day, before putting it into the oven, cut the joints of the shoulders, hands and feet to prevent shrinkage during cooking, place it in a deep baking dish, so that it holds its own juice when cooking and arrange with the skin downwards so it cooks first. Cook for one hour, then turn it over, and let it cook for about three hours over medium heat (350ºF).

Remove the baking dish from the oven and cut the meat into medium-sized pieces before serving.

Note: Bolivians often roast their lechón on a rotisserie, or in an outdoor clay oven.

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