For New Year’s this year, I had the opportunity to buy a lechona (suckling piglet) for a party at my apartment. My Colombian girlfriend invited her family over on December 31st to bring in the New Year.
So this meant that I needed to find something to feed 19 people. With the small kitchens that are typical in apartments in Colombia, cooking for so many people was pretty much out of the question.
So my girlfriend recommended buying a lechona, which is a typical food (comida típica) in Colombia that is popular for large parties.
A lechona is a roasted suckling pig that is stuffed. The pig is cut open and the bones removed and in the body cavity is placed rice, peas, herbs and spices along with pork meat cut into small pieces.
The pig is then cooked for several hours in a large oven or it could be cooked outdoors. A lechona is also typically accompanied by arepas or potatoes.
The lechona is especially traditional in the Tolima Department of central Colombia. Lechonas are popular in Colombia on holidays like Christmas, New Years and the Colombian Independence Day.
Where to Buy a Lechona in Medellín
We went looking for a place to order a lechona and found they are popular with several restaurants in Medellín specializing in them including:
- Alberto Lechona – located at Carrera 81 # 34A-134 in Laureles
- Dona Lechona – located at Avenida 39D # 73 – 106 in Laureles
- Lechonas del Café – located at Carrera 50 #33-44 in Bello
- Lechonería el Chonchito Del Tolima – located Calle 62 # 57-29 in Bello
- Oink Colombia – located at Carrera 50A # 37-17 in Itagüí
We found that the restaurants in Medellín have several sizes of lechonas serving 20, 30, 40 or more people.
We decided to order from Alberto Lechona, which is a restaurant that is located only about six blocks from our apartment in Belén. We also decided to order a larger size than needed to provide for leftovers.
We ordered a lechona that would serve 35 people. We needed to place the order three days before it was needed. Other restaurants we talked to said orders needed to be placed two to three days in advance of when it was needed.
The cost was 340,000 pesos ($140) for a lechona that would feed up to 35 people. We could pay extra for transport but decided to pick it up ourselves.
We also needed to pay a deposit of 50,000 pesos for the tray the pig was on. This money was returned to us when we brought the tray back.
We picked the lechona up at about 5 p.m. on the 31st, which is what the restaurant scheduled.
Our guests arrived at about 7:30 p.m. and we didn’t start to eat until about 8:30 p.m. The food was still sufficiently hot at that time but we had to heat up some potatoes that were on the side.
The lechona was a big hit with our guests and the food was good. It is a very rich and fragrant dish. To serve, the skin is cut and the rice/meat is scooped out of the pig and the crispy skin is cut into squares and served alongside.
We also had leftovers as planned. We kept some of the leftovers and gave some to our guests.