Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Suckling Pig Advice


Recommended Posts

Help!

In 5 days I will be roasting a suckling pig for Thanksgiving Dinner. Unfortunately, I realize at this point that I have little or no information on how to approach this.

Here is my plan:

I'm looking for a pig that will be in the general vicinity of 20 pounds. Can I expect to find a suckling pig of this weight? All the butchers I have talked to have told me that I should not expect anything under 38 pounds. I thought suckling pigs never got anywhere near that large. Could they have been referring to a typical whole pig?

Anyway, on with the plan. I will brine the pig in a garbage bag, but I do not know what type of brine to use. Any ideas in this area?

Moving on, I have set up the rotiserrrie on my gas grill. I figure I will simply stick the pig on that and then put some soaked hardwood chips onto the grill along with some herbs and just let it roast/smoke.

As far as serving, this aspect really scares me. I have no experience in butchering whole animals and any tips would certainly help.

All in all, does this sound like a viable plan?

Thanks in advance for all the help,

~Ben

Edited by bentherebfor (log)

Some people say the glass is half empty, others say it is half full, I say, are you going to drink that?

Ben Wilcox

benherebfour@gmail.com

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have never done this before, either. But I did see it done while I was a student in culinary school. There, we deboned the pig and stuffed it before roasting it in the big bread oven:

Stuffed Suckling Pig

Onions

Celery

Whole Butter

Garlic

Sage

Thyme

Sea salt and white pepper

Apricots

Sherry

Ground pork

Eggs

Deboned suckling pig

Pork tenderloins

Carrots

BG with sage stalks

Gelatin

Arrowroot

Make stuffing: Sweat onions and celery in butter. Add garlic, sage and thyme. Season. Poach apricots in sherry and water and add to onion mixture. Chill. Add ground pork and eggs.

Stuff pig: Place two tenderloins alongside spine of pig. Cover tenderloins and back of head with stuffing. Add two more tenderloins. Add enough stuffing to hold shape of pig. Sew pig shut and cover head and tail with foil. Roast atop rack in pan at 425 degrees for 90 minutes until skin is crisp; lower heat to 300 degrees and cook for 2.5-3 hours until done. Rest before carving.

Make sauce: Make stock with pig bones, carrots, and BG. Cook 3 hours and strain. Reduce 50-70% and finish with 3 sheets of gelatin, arrowroot and seasoning.

It was delicious. I'm sure there are others here with more experience on weights and cooking times etc, but thought I'd throw this out there as a jumping-off point.

A few other thoughts:

Make sure the rotisserie is big enough to hold the pig securely, and if it's motorized make sure it can handle that weight.

I am a big fan of brining. I think your brine should reflect whatever you'll be doing with the pig as far as seasonings, stuffings, sauces. So for some nice fall flavors maybe you could add turbinado sugar, nutmeg, allspice, OJ in addition to salt and water. Or you could just do a plain salt-water brine--I rarely add anything else when I brine foods, but then I've never brined a whole pig.

If you debone and stuff the thing, serving is easy; you just cut off whole slices and serve them. If you don't debone it, things get more complicated. Are you familiar with meat fabrication in general? Do you plan to present the whole pig and carve it tableside? (I'd recommend you carve in the kitchen unless you either are deboning or have a lot of experience with carving meat.)

Link to post
Share on other sites
If you debone and stuff the thing, serving is easy; you just cut off whole slices and serve them. If you don't debone it, things get more complicated. Are you familiar with meat fabrication in general? Do you plan to present the whole pig and carve it tableside? (I'd recommend you carve in the kitchen unless you either are deboning or have a lot of experience with carving meat.)

I was do not think I am capable of stuffing the pig as I do not feel I fully comprehend how to keep the pig intact and debone it at the same time. I was planning to carve tableside, simply so I could show off the finished product in its entirety, however I am now reconsidering my position. :sad:

Some people say the glass is half empty, others say it is half full, I say, are you going to drink that?

Ben Wilcox

benherebfour@gmail.com

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well - the issue isn't whether you can get a small pig anywhere (I'm sure I could find one here if I tried) - it's whether you can get one where you live. If you tell us where you live - perhaps some people who live in your general area can give you some ideas where to look.

I found this easy recipe for you to use if you find the pig.

Note that on my part - I wouldn't cook something large on a BBQ the first time I was cooking it. I'd use an oven (where it's much easier to control the cooking temp and keep an eye on things). Once I'd mastered the oven method - I might try the BBQ - although I doubt it in the case of a pig which takes about 4-5 hours to cook. Robyn

Link to post
Share on other sites

Did you order the pig or do you think that the local market stocks them? Not a good idea if you've never done it before.

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

Link to post
Share on other sites

I really think your way over your head at this stage, read late in the game.

Salvation if you want pork:

Go and find three pork butts, and three or four racks of pork ribs. You'll not have the visual of looking at a dead piggy, but the food will be fine.

Cook the butts for about 13 hours and the ribs for about 5 1/2.

woodburner

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have the pig covered at this point, thanks to a recomendation from ronniesuburban....it will arrive Wednesday. I intend to brine it overnight, however I still have am clueless as to any flavoring agents to add to the brine.

I am considering the oven instead of the barbeque......and the more I think about it the more I think that might work.

Well, thanks for the great suggestions thus far!

Some people say the glass is half empty, others say it is half full, I say, are you going to drink that?

Ben Wilcox

benherebfour@gmail.com

Link to post
Share on other sites
I have the pig covered at this point, thanks to a recomendation from ronniesuburban....it will arrive Wednesday. I intend to brine it overnight, however I still have am clueless as to any flavoring agents to add to the brine.

I am considering the oven instead of the barbeque......and the more I think about it the more I think that might work.

Well, thanks for the great suggestions thus far!

The recipe I gave you above has the ingredients for a marinade. At least here in Florida - most people marinate pigs. Robyn

Link to post
Share on other sites

With photos! :wink:

Ben, I didn't mean you shouldn't present the whole pig. But honestly, unless you're reasonably good at carving, or you're deboning the beast, I'd show the whole animal and then whisk it away to the kitchen for carving. Nobody needs to see you do it, and you'll feel better about it if you're not being watched.

If somebody who seems to know what they're doing offers to help, let them. Dad finally let me carve our turkey last year and he was amazed to watch it--he'd never learned how to take the whole breast off the carcass, for example. It took a lot of reassurance for him to let me do it, and I did it in the kitchen to help him save face.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes I'll definitly post the results.....hopefully with pictures if I can ever figure out how to use image gullet.! :raz:

Ben, I didn't mean you shouldn't present the whole pig. But honestly, unless you're reasonably good at carving, or you're deboning the beast, I'd show the whole animal and then whisk it away to the kitchen for carving. Nobody needs to see you do it, and you'll feel better about it if you're not being watched.

Yes, I think that is what I will do. Present the pig and then carve it in privacy. Another reason to carve in private that just occured to me is that there will be people at the dinner who may, and certain people most definitly will, not appreciate seeing a whole pig being carved. There more I think about it, the better the idea of carving in the kitchen becomes.

Thanks guys!

Some people say the glass is half empty, others say it is half full, I say, are you going to drink that?

Ben Wilcox

benherebfour@gmail.com

Link to post
Share on other sites

A quick question that just occured to me....should I be cooking the pig the normal pork temperature around 160? Won't I be dealing with a lot of carryover heat?

Some people say the glass is half empty, others say it is half full, I say, are you going to drink that?

Ben Wilcox

benherebfour@gmail.com

Link to post
Share on other sites

I too want to see photos and hear how it all comes out!

I can't add a thing of value, EXCEPT to say you should consider using something other than a garbage bag for the brining step. Can you find a large enough kettle, for instance? What about using a large ice chest or cooler? Garbage bags often have odor-countering chemicals inside them. I know this because my crewmates and I used garbage bags to store loaves of bread on a sailing trip, and after 2 days the bread was darned near inedible from the strange chemical flavor. Bleah....! :hmmm: Trust me, you don't want to flavor your pig that way!

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

Link to post
Share on other sites

yes there will be alot of carryover so cook it to about 145-150 and let rest a half hour before cutting. also when cutting most of the meat is on the legs. also when i cooked them i allways make a few sauces with them. the pork will need it because the pork is really steaming under the skin so the flavor is a bit different than a roast. mustard sauce is great and a fruit sauce is another option. good luck! wish i was there to get some of that crunchy skin! mmmmmmmm! :laugh:

Link to post
Share on other sites
Just in case you guys haven't helped me enough already, what might said mustard sauce include?

ben - this should help mustard sauces

i think something with heat and sweetness - like a honey mustard or a spicy bbq or a hot/sweet horseradish would all be good.

from overheard in new york:

Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!

Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

Link to post
Share on other sites

I roasted a pig last year for Thanksgiving and fried a turkey. It was more than enough food for the 6 of us. Suckling pigs are long and slender and don't have a lot of meat. After removing the backbone and all of the guts, the pig probably weighs 18 to 20 lbs. They do have a lot of bone and a big head. If you took out the weight of the bones, hooves, and head, you probably end up with 8 to 10 pounds of actual meat.

The pig would not fit in my oven (I have a wall oven). If you cut off the head, it may fit in your oven. It would not fit in my oven even without the head.

I was once diagnosed with a split personality but we are all okay now.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Good Morning

Happy Thanksgiving!

I just wanted to give an update. After much confusion and trouble, I have the pig. It is 21 pounds, and much longer than I expected.

Suckling pigs are long and slender and don't have a lot of meat

Fool control, you couldn't have been more dead on. So, I got the pig home and at about 9:30 last night I realised that there was no way that it would come anywhere near to fitting in my oven or barbeque. So, I sprinted over to Whole Foods and had the butcher take off its head and lower legs. It should fit on the grill now, but not on the rotisserie.

I am about to go down stairs and begin the brining process. Also, I have some hickory chips that I'm going to throw on the barbeque just for some flavor.

Here are a couple things I've been wondering about:

How long of a cooking time should I expect. The pig is so slender I don't think it should take more than two or three hours, right?

When it comes time to "pull" the meat off, how do I do that? Do I pull the skin off first, then go for the meat?

Edited by bentherebfor (log)

Some people say the glass is half empty, others say it is half full, I say, are you going to drink that?

Ben Wilcox

benherebfour@gmail.com

Link to post
Share on other sites

Extra points for bravery, my good eGer. For removing the meat, remember that there is a lot of anatomical similarity between the pig and a turkey of the same size. The bones will be longer and thicker in some places, but the meat will be in the same general areas. Smaller breast, larger back and more meat along the spine.

So, I would say, treat the meat along the back of the spine as you would the breast of a bird, and then carve everything else as you would the legs of a bird. Remember that the grain of the meat will go parallel to the bones they run next to, so you're not carving chewy strips.

Happy Suckling Pig Day!

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Alrighty Folks,

Well, the roast was a resounding sucess, not a scrap of meat left.

As I mentioned earlier, I ended up having to have the head cut off, along with the parts of the legs below the knee joint. It was unfortunate (I was looking forward to the head meat), but definitly better than a pig that wouldn't fit on the grill at all.

So, I started the pig in a basic brine. 2 cups salt to 2 gallon water. The only other things I threw in were some peppercorns and a cinnamon stick just for kicks.

tn_gallery_19347_410_1101610361.jpg

Here is the pig in the brine. You can see that the pig was close to not fitting even without the head.

Anyway, after the pig had brined for about 5 hours, I threw it onto the barbeque, with a little assistance of course. :biggrin:

tn_gallery_19347_410_1101610453.jpg

Here is what the pig initially looked like. You can see the chips up in the top of the grill. I also threw some rosemary in along with them.

You can see here the way I had the grill setup. I had a digital instant read running out so I could monitor the temp.

tn_gallery_19347_410_1101610549.jpg

Anyway, I started the pig on its belly, and flipped it when the sides started to char. Monitoring the temperature at the end became difficult because the side closest to the grill would be high enough, but the other side would be very cold, with really no way to know if the meat had ever reached the correct temperature. I took a guess and pulled the pig off after about 2 hours. By the end the pig looked like this:

tn_gallery_19347_410_1101610624.jpg

Then I brought the pig in and let it rest for about a half hour. After that time, I prepared to carve....

tn_gallery_19347_410_1101610719.jpg

Oh! A quick note that I forgot to mention earlier. I remembered all you guys talking about how amazing the skin was. Well, while the pig was on the grill I tried some and it was amazing. However, after the pig had rested, the skin lost its crispness and became very very salty. I made the executive decision to not include the skin with the meat that I was serving. What caused the skin to go soggy? Should I have taken the skin off right after I took the pig off the grill?

Anyway, once I had the pig all carved up, I stuck the meat into a 350 degree oven for about half an hour, just to be on the safe side. Wouldn't want anyone getting food poisoning at Thanksgiving Dinner now would we? :raz:

Then, just as we took carved up the turkeys, I plopped the meat on the table and served it with a Sweet and Spicy Mustard Sauce and a Horseradish Mustard Sauce.

Overall, I had a blast with this entire project. It was certainly an adventure and while there are definitly things that I would do differently next time, I think the meat came out pretty well. Thanks for all the help! :smile:

~Ben

PS: I don't know why the pictures came out so small, but I can't seem to fix that. My apologies.

Some people say the glass is half empty, others say it is half full, I say, are you going to drink that?

Ben Wilcox

benherebfour@gmail.com

Link to post
Share on other sites

Your pig looks great! Even without the head, it still looks very much like a pig!

I think you were very brave to tackle this. 12 years I ago helped organizing a New Years Eve party where a friend of mine wanted to roast a pig. I can still see us standing in front of his oven, pushing and bending the legs of the beast just to make it fit!

It did fit in the end and the meat was delicious. And at that party I met the man who is now my husband, so I will always have very fond memories of roast suckling pig.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am glad you had a good time with the pig. Maybe next time you can try a Cochon De Lait. I think John Folse has a recipe in The Evolution of Cajun and Creole Cuisine cookbook.

Cochon De Lait

1 whole pig, 30 to 50 pounds

Salt and cracked black pepper

Granulated garlic for seasoning, plus 1/2 cup

2 cups melted butter

1 cup white wine

3/4 cup Louisiana hot sauce

Cochon de lait is the art of cooking a pig before an open hardwood fire. Although the term cochon de lait is French, the origin of this Louisiana social event is obscure. It is know that the custom began at least a century ago and has since been popular throughout Cajun country. It is possible that the Germans who settled in St. James Parish in 1690 were the first to introduce the cochon de lait. These settlers brought pigs to the area and were skilled butchers. Local legend, however, tells that veterans of Napoleon's army brought the traditional preparation of cochon de lait to Louisiana in the early 1800s. Many of these soldiers settled in a town in Avoylles Parish they named Manusra in honor of the site of their last major campaign. Since then, Mansura, LA has been designated by the Louisiana legislature as "La Capital du Cochon de Lait."

Normally, families cooked pigs in cochon de lait style as the centerpiece for holiday gatherings. The pig, usually weighing less than 30 pounds, was sometimes cooked hanging from the fireplace in the kitchen. The most common method was to cook the pig outdoors over a pecan wood and sugarcane fire. The basic process of the cochon de lait has remained the same over the years. Today, much larger pigs are cooked to feed groups of people. Pigs up to 200 pounds are regarded as excellent for open-fire cooking.

When preparing a cochon de lait, season the pig well inside and out with salt, cracked black pepper, and granulated garlic. Inject the front and rear hams and tenderloin with an infused liquid made with 2 cups melted butter, 1 cup white wine, 3/4 cup Louisiana hot sauce and 1/2 cup granulated garlic. Using a meat saw, cut through the backbone at the neck and tail and lay the pig open flat. Wrap the pig in wire mesh that has been washed and cleaned thoroughly and then secure it with wire to hold it in proper form during the long cooking process. The pig should then be slowly rotated in front of a hardwood fire built 3 to 4 feet away from the pig. The fire, constantly maintained, cooks a 50-pound pig in 6 hours. Estimate 1 hour of cooking time for every 10 pounds, but keep in mind that not all pigs will cook at the same rate. After each hour of cooking, flip the pig head side down to ensure even cooking.

I was once diagnosed with a split personality but we are all okay now.

Link to post
Share on other sites

For pics -- did you enlarge the pic in your album then "click for actual URL" ? No matter -- still looks good! :wink:

Also, for the skin -- we always removed the skin right away and set aside to serve crisp when doing a large pig under ground. Maybe same with this. When I do little piggies (smaller than this) the skin stays crisp from the smoker or oven. But at this size the skin may be resorbing moisture/steam from the hot pig.

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...