Lechona en Bolsa

Whole Piglet or Pig in a Bag

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • 12


Appears in

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

By Patricia McCausland-Gallo

Published 2004

  • About

Lechona is a very typical large-event dish in Colombia. The most typical is the Lechona Tolimense: the whole pig bakes in a huge brick oven for eight to ten hours, enough for at least sixty to eighty people to eat from the smallest ones. The pig is bled and the blood used to make Morcillas; the rest of the meat is cut, seasoned, and placed back into the pig’s skin with rice, potatoes, and peas. The cooked pig is displayed and served whole. My husband’s aunt and I prepared a small version of Lechona, making a “bag” from the skin of the animal, instead of cooking it whole.


  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 whole skin of pork, cleaned, ½-inch thick and large enough to cut into an 18- by 24-inch rectangle (ask your butcher to prepare it)

Pork Meat and Seasoning

  • 3 pounds pork, cut in ½-inch dice
  • 1 cup minced scallion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin*
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup white rice, cooked with 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup green peas, cooked
  • 2 cup raw diced red potatoes, ½-inch dice


  • 2 tablespoons pork fat
  • 3 cups minced scallions
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • teaspoons ground cumin*
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon color* or turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 cups peeled and diced tomatoes
  • 2 sour oranges, for baking


Day 1

  1. Rub baking soda all over the pork skin. Remove the excess fat with a sharp knife. Refrigerate overnight or at least one hour.

Day 2

  1. Wash the skin well to remove all the baking soda. Place the skin in a large pot of boiling water and cook until it has softened and is easier to bend and handle, about 15 minutes. Discard the cooking water.
  2. Fold the skin in half, and with a large needle and butcher’s twine, sew two of the open sides to make a sort of pillow case or bag with one side still open. Set aside to fill later.
  3. In a large bowl place the pork, scallion, garlic, cumin, and salt. Mix well and set aside until ready to fill the bag.
  4. PREPARE THE GUISO: In a large sauté pan or caldero* over medium-low heat, melt the pork fat, and sauté the scallions, garlic, cumin, salt, color, and pepper for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 20 to 25 minutes more; set aside.
  5. In a very large bowl or pan, mix together the raw seasoned pork, rice, peas, potatoes and guiso; mix them all together.
  6. Fill the pork skin bag with this mixture, and sew the end shut.
  7. If you have pork mixture leftover, place it in a baking dish and cover it with foil or wrap it in plantain leaves.
  8. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  9. Place the filled pork bag in a baking dish. Rub all over with half a sour orange.
  10. Cover and bake for 1½ hours.
  11. Uncover, turn, rub with more orange, re-cover, and bake another 1½ hours.
  12. Turn again and rub the second orange over the pork bag.
  13. Remove the foil, increase the heat to 475°F and cook for 10 to 15 minutes more on each side or until the skin bursts with bubbles and is really crispy.
  14. Let rest for 30 minutes. Carve and serve.