This little piggy came to town to celebrate the Cooking Rat’s 40th Birthday. The piggy went very well with the magnum of white Burgundy (and the magnum of Cava) he brought with him.
With a week’s notice you can get a young pig from any good butcher and the investment is worthwhile.
You’ll get very small pig, maybe 4 kilos, but it’s more likely the butcher will supply something around 5.5 kilos. In the centre of London it costs around £14 per kilo, so although hardly cheap, it’s not unaffordable for a really special occasion.
If you are concerned about your oven size, do as we did and ask the butcher to chop in half. Cook it on two trays and put back together for serving. Not only does it look Medieval when feasting, but the flesh itself is divine.
Suckling Pig v Pork
A young pig produces parchment thin crackling.
The flesh is tender, sweet and extraordinarily moist.
Texturally it is almost gelatinous in comparison to older pork; not unlike the difference between brown meat and white meat in poultry.
If you can’t be bothered making this at home go to Fino, we used the recipe in their cook book.
Pig 5.5 kg
7 cloves of garlic
7 bay leaves
Sprig of fresh thyme
1.5 litres of chicken stock
Bunch of mint
High grade olive oil
Wash away blood from inside pig and dry with kitchen towel making sure the skin is completely dry. Critical for crispy crackling.
Rub olive oil all over the pig. Salt and pepper inside and out.Wrap his head in tinfoil. Now pour juice of the 2 lemons over the baking tray. Scatter the peeled and halved garlic cloves (green shoot removed), thyme and bay leaves, all directly under the pig. Open up the pig on top, as much as you can (you want to achieve as little pig curling under as possible so as much of the skin is above the liquid as you can. This will give you more crispy crackling.)
Heat stock and pour into roasting tin (not over the pig or you’ll make the skin wet again).
Roast at 180 c for half an hour then turn down to 140 c and roast for a further 3 hours. Do not baste. For the last 20 mins remove the foil from the pigs head.
Take him out and rest him uncovered for 30 mins in a warmish place. Meanwhile skim all pan juices (save that fat for roasters!). Add a good bit of finely chopped mint and reduce by about half until it tastes just right.
Don a Ermin cloak, carry the whole pig to the table and carve it in front of your friends. Give an ear to the adventurous, some cheek to those you love and make sure you get some of the ribs.
(Ps. Make Cochefrito with the left overs. Basically fried pig with garlic and herbs – see below)