Leg of Pork with Cracklings


Not to be confused with ham, a fresh leg of pork is relatively uncommon today. The traditional Cuban way is to dress it with oregano and lemon, an approach that couldn't be easier -- or better.


  • 3 heads garlic, minced, plus 5 cloves, halved

  • ¼ cup grated lemon zest

  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice

  • 3 bunches fresh oregano, chopped

  • 1 ½ cups extra-virgin olive oil

  • 5 ½ cups extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 leg of pork (20 pounds), bone-in, skin-on

  • 2 cups dry white wine


  1. Mix minced garlic, lemon zest and juice, oregano, 2 teaspoons salt, and the oil in a medium bowl.

  2. Using a sharp knife, make parallel cuts all over pork leg, cutting through skin and fat (but not meat), spacing cuts 1/2 inch apart. Using a paring knife, cut ten 1/2-inch slits into meat (between parallel cuts). Stuff each slit with a halved garlic clove.

  3. Pat garlic mixture all over pork, pushing paste between each parallel line and covering pork. Season generously with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large plastic bag set in a pan (such as a turkey roasting bag), leaving top open to let skin dry. Refrigerate overnight (or up to 2 days).

  4. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Position rack in lower third of oven. Remove pork from bag, and place in a large roasting pan, skin side up. Let stand 1 hour at room temperature. Season again with salt and pepper, and pour wine in pan. Roast for 45 minutes, reduce heat to 350, and continue roasting until thickest part of pork registers 145 degrees on a meat thermometer, about 3 hours. (Check temperature every 15 minutes during final hour of roasting.) Let rest at least 1 hour before serving.

Cook's Notes

Skin-on leg of pork is not difficult to procure but does need to be ordered ahead of time. To save time, mince garlic in a food processor. One hour may seem like a long time for meat to rest, but because of its size, the pork will still be hot when carved.

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