Why It Works
- Sautéing the vegetables before incorporating them into the meatloaf gets rid of their excess moisture and prevents the embutido from becoming soggy.
- Using ground pork yields a juicy, flavorful embutido.
I still recall the sense of unease I felt whenever a slice of cold embutido―Filipino-style pork meatloaf filled with sweet relish, raisins, hard-boiled eggs, and ham or sausage―was put on my plate at any party. As a kid, I was a picky eater and I didn't find cold meat particularly appetizing, especially when it contained raisins and relish. As I grew up and learned how to cook, I came to appreciate and enjoy embutido for its myriad flavors and textures.
"Embutido" means sausage in Spanish and is a catch-all for any type of sausage. However, Filipino embutido came about after the introduction of processed canned foods to the country during the Spanish-American war; it isn't a remnant of Spanish colonization. Canned ham, Vienna sausages, corned beef, and other shelf-stable meats found their way onto dinner tables and, consequently, became highly prized, eventually finding their way into a Filipinized version of meatloaf, the classic American dish, which nevertheless is called "embutido" because the shape of the typically cylindrical loaf ends up recalling a sausage.
To assemble an embutido, it used to be typical to start by laying down a layer of caul fat, the web-like fatty lining that encases organs in animals like cows, pigs, and sheep (known as sinsal in Filipino). Nowadays, it's more common to see preparation that use banana leaves or (even more common) aluminum foil as the outer wrapping layer. Regardless of which one you use, you fill it with ground pork mixed with finely chopped vegetables, sweet relish, and raisins, stuffing the middle with hard-boiled eggs and Vienna sausage or hot dogs, then rolling it all into a log. Once rolled and wrapped, you steam the embutido, cool it, and then cut it into slices, which can be served cold, warm, or even fried.
Much like a meatloaf, embutido is very customizable. The embutido I ate growing up was dense, contained raisins, and was steamed and served cold. My version incorporates sautéed bell pepper for sweetness (instead of raisins and relish), shredded cheddar cheese for added creaminess, and Chinese sausage (rather than Vienna sausages or Filipino hotdogs) for their salty sweet flavor, which I think pairs well with the rest of the embutido's ingredients. Although steaming is traditional, you’ll see many recipes that call for baking the embutido, so I tested both for this recipe. While steaming produces a smoother and more homogenous texture, I preferred the deeper caramelized flavor and lighter texture of the baked embutido. Sliced and served warm alongside fragrant jasmine rice and a tangy sweet and sour sauce, this is a version of embutido my childhood self wouldn't hesitate to eat.
- For the Sweet and Sour Sauce:
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (85g) light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) cane vinegar (see note)
- 1 tablespoon (15g) banana ketchup (see note)
- 1 teaspoon (3g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or the same weight
- 2 fresh red or green Thai chiles, stemmed, seeded, and minced (see note)
- For the Embutido:
- Pan spray, for greasing
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) vegetable oil
- 13 medium garlic cloves (65g), minced
- 1 medium red onion (about 8 ounces; 225g), finely chopped
- 1 large yellow bell pepper (about 7 ounces; 200g), stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots (about 6 ounces; 170g), peeled and grated on large holes of box grater
- 1 pound (455g) ground pork
- 6 ounces shredded medium cheddar cheese (1 1/2 cups; 170g)
- 3 ounces panko breadcrumbs (1 1/4 cups; 85g)
- 2 large eggs (100g), beaten
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon (3g) freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 5 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled
- 2 links (95g) Chinese sausage (see note)
- Cooked white rice, for serving
For the Sweet and Sour Sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, vinegar, ketchup, salt, and chiles until well combined; set aside.
For the Embutido: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease an 18- by 24-inch sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray (you can also use two, slightly overlapping 12- by 24-inch sheets of aluminum foil); set aside.
In a 12-inch cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add garlic, onion, bell pepper, and carrots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool, about 20 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine pork, cheese, breadcrumbs, eggs, oyster sauce, fish sauce, black pepper, soy sauce, salt, cayenne, and cooled vegetable mixture. Using your hands or a sturdy silicone spatula, mix until thoroughly combined, about 3 minutes.
On a work surface, position prepared aluminum foil with one longer side lying parallel to the edge of the surface. Transfer meat mixture to center of foil and, using your hands, shape into an 8- by 15-inch rectangle. In the center of the rectangle, place eggs horizontally in a single line. Position sausage links horizontally in a single line directly above eggs, making sure that the eggs and sausage are touching one another.
Working with the longer side closest to you, lift the edge of the aluminum foil and gently begin to roll the meat (which will release from the foil), folding the meat over the eggs and sausage and enclosing them in the middle of the embutido. Continue rolling, using foil to lift and roll embutido, to form a tight log. Wrap aluminum foil tightly around embutido, then fold in the ends. Wrap embutido with another sheet of aluminum foil, folding in ends.
Transfer embutido to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until juices leak outside of foil and caramelize on baking sheet, and internal temperature registers 165°F (74°C) on an instant-read thermometer, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
Transfer embutido to a cutting board and set aside until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes. Using a sharp knife, cut into 1 1/2-inch-thick slices and carefully remove aluminum foil.
Transfer sliced embutido to a large serving platter. Serve immediately with white rice and sweet and sour sauce alongside.
Rimmed baking sheet, wire rack, instant-read thermometer.
Cane vinegar can be found in Filipino and Asian markets, as well as online.
Banana ketchup can be found at Filipino and Asian markets, as well as online. If you can’t find banana ketchup, you can substitute with tomato ketchup.
Chinese sausage can be found in Asian markets and online.
Make-Ahead and Storage
The sweet and sour sauce can be made in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Embutido can be made in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month. To freeze a whole embutido, follow recipe through step 7 and allow to cool to room temperature before freezing (keep it wrapped in aluminum foil); thaw before reheating. To reheat, slice embutido, remove aluminum foil, and gently heat in the microwave before serving.