Roast whole suckling pig

Posted on October 14, 2007 by Aun

I know this post is going to offend some readers. So, I’m placing this little warning here. If you’re among that part of the population that doesn’t condone the cooking and eating of cute, baby animals, please don’t scroll down. If, however, like S and me, you live to eat and absolutely love the idea of tucking into a gorgeously roasted suckling pig, keep reading.

It’s no secret that both S and I love pork. It is most definitely my favourite meat. A healthy portion of the recipes found on this site are pig-dishes. And when S and I recently combed through the two leather-bound books in which we archive our menus, we discovered, not too surpisingly, that we almost always serve at least one pork dish when entertaining.

Over our years together, we’ve prepared pork in many different ways. And while we’ve long considered ourselves pretty pig-proficient, there was always one style–one rather amazing dish–that we would often talk about but never got around to making. Truth be told, I always found the idea of roasting our own suckling pig hugely daunting.

I’m not sure why, but I had always assumed that preparing a roasted, whole suckling pig would be incredibly difficult, time-consuming and complex. The idea, quite simply, scared me. It’s the kind of dish you could eat in a restaurant but not the kind of thing you’d make for a Sunday lunch. Then S came home with a copy of Fergus Henderson’s Beyond Nose to Tail: More Omnivorous Recipes for the Adventurous Cook and declared that we should attempt his amusingly worded Roast Whole Suckling Pig recipe.

What S and I discovered is that roasting a piglet is one of the easiest things we’ve ever done in our kitchen. The hardest part, in fact, was getting over how cute the raw piglet was. Our suckling pig was delivered frozen. It was wrapped tightly in plastic with its front trotters tucked under its chin. When we unwrapped it, it rather pathetically sat on our counter top, looking more like a sleeping pet than a future meal.

Prepping one’s piglet is easy. We were, admitedly, lucky. Our pig came gutted and cleaned. Our only chore was removing its kidneys, setting them aside for our stuffing, and salting the beast inside and out. To supplement Fergus’ recipe (which is entertaining but rather low on details) we also consulted the very detailed, illustrated notes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two.

Making Henderson’s stuffing took just 20 minutes. It is essentially a confit of red onions and red wine, mixed with stale bread, the pig’s kidneys and some herbs. While we enjoyed it, S has decided that when we next roast another pig, she’ll substitute Henderson’s stuffing for a more Asian glutinous rice mixture studded with shitake mushrooms, chestnuts, dried shrimp, dark soy sauce and salted duck egg yolks (like a rice dumpling or bak chang).

We decided to slow-roast our little piggy for just under 4 hours. It came out beautifully. We were thrilled. The skin was crisp, thin and easy to both cut and bite into. The meat was flavourful, tender and moist. It was fantastic. We served our suckling pig with some asparagus (simply blanched and then seasoned with sea salt and pepper) and a rich, sinful gratin dauphinois spiked with Comte and Beaufort D’Alpage. With all this, we offered our friends the choice between a lovely, light, sweet and zingy Gralyn Racy Red wine and a yummy, slightly savoury and refreshing Weihenstephan wheat beer.

Roast Whole Suckling Pig
inspired by a recipe from Beyond Nose to Tail: More Omnivorous Recipes for the Adventurous Cook
by Fergus Henderson and Justin Piers Gellatly

1 small suckling pig, gutted and cleaned, with the kidneys left within
olive oil
sea salt and black pepper

Stuffing
4 red onions
a dollop of duck fat
375ml red wine
kidneys of the pig, chopped
1/2 loaf of day-old white bread, cubed
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
8 sage leaves, chopped

A day before cooking, salt and pepper your piglet liberally (we used around 6 tablespoons of salt), both inside and out, and place it uncovered on a wire rack, over a tray, and into your fridge. You want it to be cool and dry.

Cook the red onions in duck fat over low heat until the onions are soft. Pour in the red wine. Let this simmer and reduce until the mixture becomes a yummy, dark red confit. If you find that the onions are becoming a tad dry but aren’t soft enough, you can add a little bit of water to the pan and keep cooking. Add the chopped-up kidneys to the mix. Then add pieces of bread and stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Take off the heat and add the garlic and sage. Set aside until cool to the touch.

When ready, stuff your piglet. Turn your piglet over onto its back and fill the cavity with the stuffing. Sew as much of your piglet shut as you can. I used kitchen twine and a large needle and was able to sew up about two-thirds of its front.

Preheat your oven with the fan on to 150 degrees Celsius. If you don’t have a fan function, heat to 160 degrees Celsius.

Lightly oil a roasting pan or oven tray and place your piglet on it, “sphinx-like”, i.e. belly down, with its legs close to but on the side of the body. Shove a small ball of aluminium foil into the piglet’s mouth. Also wrap the piggy’s ears in foil. Rub a healthy amount of olive oil all over the piglet’s back and sprinkle a little more sea salt over it. Pop it into your oven and roast for between 3 hours 30 minutes to 4 hours. We roasted ours for 3 hours 40 minutes and then turned off the heat in our oven, but left the fan on, and left it inside for another 30 minutes. Note, if you don’t have a fan-assisted oven, you may want to spin your pan around after about 2 hours.

Your pig’s skin should be crisp and the meat tender and moist. Carve it at the table or inside your kitchen. Enjoy!

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his bouncing baby boy!

What Others Are Saying

  1. Jerry October 14, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    This looks absolutely fabulous! I’ve never experienced suckling pig, but we do roast whole hogs in this part of the world, and they are fantastic. I can only assume that the meat of a suckling pig would be a bit more delicate in flavor.

    Where do you order such a thing?

  2. rachel October 14, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    That really looks awesome, and I can’t wait to try it. Where did you order your pig from?

  3. Joyz October 15, 2007 at 12:14 am

    Oh goodness, I can’t help feeling a little freaked-out at the tiny animal lying on the board. I mean, it looks delicious cut up and everything but it kinda gave me a squeamish feeling. You guys are brave!

    Anyway, first time seeing S so up-front! Love your dress, S! Ever thought of doing a fashion blog?

  4. Joyz October 15, 2007 at 12:37 am

    Oh goodness, I can’t help feeling a little freaked-out at the photo of that piglet lying on the tray! It looks delicious cut up and all but its original state did made me feel a little squeamish.

    Anyway, is that a pic of S? Absolutely love that dress! I’m sure the readers appreciate some photos to know the people behind this wonderful blog!

  5. Pica October 15, 2007 at 1:05 am

    This looks fantastic! Reminds me of the cochinillo we used to have growing up. Where did you order the suckling pig from? You’ve just solved my dilema of what to serve for holiday dinner!! THanks!!!!!

  6. AAR October 15, 2007 at 4:15 am

    aww…what a cute piggy, with its floppy ears..

    S, what a beautiful dress! Where is it from?

  7. maxigumee October 15, 2007 at 8:49 am

    Those photos have a kind of funny bluntness about them. It looks kind of like a bizarre horror movie. I actually laughed when I saw the one of the piggy on the tray. I’m a vegetarian, so that might be against my moral code. Haha.

    As usual, though, the photos make everything look SO delicious.

  8. Chubby Hubby October 15, 2007 at 8:59 am

    Jerry: Wow. I could never get a whole hog into my oven. ;) We ordered it from a food supplier called Indoguna.

    Rachel: Hi Rachel, we got it from Indoguna.

    Joyz: Thanks. The piglet was ridiculously cute, but I was pretty focused. I knew if we could pull this off, the pay-off would be delicious. Oh, the lovely lady in the floral dress isn’t S. It is a dear friend of ours who loves suckling pig even more than we do. She actually, greedily while daintily, ate the skin and meat off the pig’s head while the rest of us watched in amusement.

    Pica: What a great idea. I think I’ll order one also for X-Mas!

    AAR: Hiya, our friend L reports that the dress is from Mango, but quite a few seasons back.

  9. edwin October 15, 2007 at 9:52 am

    hi chubby hubby,

    where did you buy your Weihenstephan wheat beer from? Thanks.

  10. Chubby Hubby October 15, 2007 at 9:58 am

    Edwin: Weihenstephan is now being distributed in Singapore by a new company called Premiere Beverages. It’s only been around for a few months and the beer is available (I think) at restaurants, bars, just a few selected retail points and via home delivery (which is what I did). You can call them at +65 6285 2508 or email them at premiere_beverages@hotmail.com. You can look for David.

  11. edwin October 15, 2007 at 10:22 am

    Thanks!

  12. Joyz October 15, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    Hey CH, sorry for the duplicate post. I posted once but seeing that it didn’t appear for quite a while, I posted another similar one. Will be more patient in future!

    You guys should really show a photo of yourselves!

  13. gwenda October 15, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    hi CH, i think it’s great that you put a picture of the uncooked piglet in your post, as it serves as a reminder to urban-dwellers (who have been too removed from the source of their food) that the chops on their dinner plate were once animals. thank you for that. :)

    anddd the roasted piglet looks amazing, and i imagine it must taste quite sensational! (btw the ears would’ve been a great treat for the dogs, if you guys didn’t devour it yourselves, that is.)

  14. anthony October 15, 2007 at 7:53 pm

    Yes it’s cute, but then so are rabbits and lambs.
    Lovely work, it looks perfect.
    The last whole pigs we had was cooked for us and delivered for New Year. It was boned and stuffed with pork I think a stuffing might have been a bit more balanced.

  15. Chubby Hubby October 15, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    Joyz: No problem. If you really do want to see a picture of S, you’ll find one of my favourites on the “About” page.

    Gwenda: The same friend L, pictured, gobbled the ears. None for the poor pooches I’m afraid.

    Anthony: Hmmmm… I wouldn’t mind trying to roast a baby lamb… now, if only I had the space.

  16. Rosa October 15, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    It must be delicious! I’ve never had the opportunity to eat suckling pig, but you are making my mouth water…
    The first picture is so cute and beautiful! The piglet looks as if it’s sleeping…

  17. ximena October 15, 2007 at 11:28 pm

    that looks so beautiful and I love the idea of the stuffing. spanish cochinillo is roast with a bit of water and salt and that´s it. the whole point is that it has to be so tender that you break it with a plate, not a knife. but I think stuffing it is a much better idea than any plate trick.

  18. Joyz October 16, 2007 at 10:27 am

    Oh yes, its a really nice photo of S (kinda small though, updating a bigger one soon?). Where was it taken at? My impression of S from the cookbooks she has edited (Justin Quek’s) and Joycelyn’s blog is that she’s a Manolo Blanik fashionista and really glamorous! She sounds really cool and pique my curiosity in her! =)

    PS: Love her boots btw!

  19. Chubby Hubby October 16, 2007 at 10:39 am

    Joyz: heh heh… she’s much more obsessed with Louboutin these days. I was very proud that a year ago, she was named by one of Singapore’s most popular magazines as one of the country’s best dressed women.

  20. Joyz October 16, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    Wow, a good cook and a fashionista to boot! S, you are my new idol!! If you ever start a fashion blog, I’ll be your avid reader (promise!) Haha!

    Anyway, I’m currently using some of her ideas to create my “gourmet box” for my bf…hope it will knock the socks of him! I will take a pic of the complete product and send it to both of you!

  21. V October 17, 2007 at 1:20 am

    How adventurous! Next adventure… Ibu Oka’s suckling pig? :D

  22. Rachael October 18, 2007 at 6:40 am

    Not even sure a whole piglet, for cooking, could be found in LA, but heavens, we should at least be able to get that dress! Beautiful!

  23. margaux October 18, 2007 at 7:38 am

    congratulations on the success of roasting that pig! can’t believe you did this at home! over here (philippines) that is a favorite dish. we call it a cuchinillo for baby piggies around 4-6 weeks old. for the adult piggies we call it lechon. we usually have those on special events, like a fiesta (a town celebration) where the pig takes centerstage, i.e., at the center of a large table with all the food and with an apple in its mouth. then everyone dives in, usually targeting the crispy skin first. but our version’s a little less highbrow. instead of wine, we use softdrinks! ps – ‘sphinx-like’ – hahaha!

  24. Womans health October 18, 2007 at 10:45 am

    Great recipe. Now I just have to try to find a supplier….thanks di

  25. Ruy October 18, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    I never imagined roasting your very own home-cooked suckling pig was possible.. Like you, I always had a mindset that roasted suckling pig = restaurant. Thanks to your story I have been enlightened by the boundless possibilities of imagination. I now have a new kitchen fantasy project. =)

  26. jen October 18, 2007 at 11:22 pm

    At one of the first restaurants I worked at we had to roast a large pig for a party – in an oven that wasn’t really made for roasting a pig. It completely freaked me out when ever I passed the oven as it looked like a child was stuck in there! Since the chefs shoved the thing in to make it fit – it came out of the oven a bit twisted – not exactly wat the patrons had in mind – quite a laugh nonetheless.

  27. Ladybird October 19, 2007 at 2:56 am

    Hey..that’s Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier! One of the good bavarian beer ;) How do you like it? I used to stay at the city where this beer is brewed.
    Nice pics!

  28. Veron October 22, 2007 at 7:49 am

    I bought Julia Child’s french chef dvds specifically because she made roast suckling pig in one. I have never tried it yet though, I keep on forgetting to order one. How many pounds was the piglet? The only think I would be squemish about is if they did not take out the eye. But my supplier assured me it is pretty well cleaned.

  29. The Culinary Chase October 22, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    My kind of meal!! Looks delicious; crispy on the outside & moist inside……..all washed down with a beer….YUM!

  30. neil October 23, 2007 at 11:35 am

    A whole suckling pig has got oodles of Wow! factor. The one thing I noticed with ours was the absence of fat, perhaps that’s why I didn’t enjoy the skin as much as I thought I would, especially given that I love crackling. But the meat, so sweet and tender, a little difficult to carve neatly though, there always seemed to be a small bone getting in the way somewhere, but so worth the effort.

  31. john January 11, 2008 at 2:24 am

    I found a company that specializes in whole pigs. They will deliver it right to your door. It is http://www.mcreynoldsfarms.com

  32. Amanda December 31, 2008 at 4:32 am

    Very helpful instructions. We’re roasting a pig for New Years. My hubby is my butcher, so next time I’ll see if he can leave the head on. They’re pretty that way. By the way, you have good taste in beer! And, as a woman, I must say, cute dress!

  33. Petruschka August 26, 2009 at 6:34 am

    How much did your suckling pig weigh. The weight is very important relating to roasting time. I have a 25 lb. pig on order.

  34. Jennifer September 24, 2009 at 11:59 am

    I found this while I was doing some research on cooking my own suckling pig. Thought you might be interested.
    http://www.cator.com/fatboys/archive_05/item88.html

  35. Flo January 25, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    For anyone who is interested, I managed to find a suckling pig supplier after much search (Indoguna dont have the stock anymore). Its Lee Bin Hongs Pig Supplier. Just called and spoke to a nice lady Jesslyne, who by the way was very amused I am attempting to roast the suckling pig myself.

    http://www.leebinhongpigs.com.sg/

    We are going to try it out on our BBQ grill with rotisserie this Friday. Wish us luck!

    Happy Cooking!

  36. Ashley Coomera July 6, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    The picture at the top is so cute and tasty looking. I’d love to try something like this, but as with you, it just seems too daunting. I might need to first watch someone who knows what they are doing before trying it myself.

  37. Teresa the Pilates chick October 18, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Whilst we’re on the topic on roasting cute animals, I did think of you to report in on my latest party. I hosted a roast lamb on a spit party this weekend with resounding success. Wow, the 15kg baa-baa came encased in a glass coffin like spit. It took about 2 hours for the lamb to be done. It was amazing! The skin was crisp, the meat was succulent and the slow roasting on the spit meant that pretty much everything fell off the bone or could be picked up. 35 of us demolished the whole thing leaving nary a trace of carcass. Scary. Not for the fainthearted as it, like your suckling pig was definitely in the “cute” category.

  38. Simon Raynard November 16, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Looks great and my brother-in-law and I are gonna cook it for my father’s birthday this year. In Fergus Henderson’s sequel, he talks about venison liver but gives no recipe. I have managed to get hold of a pound of red deer liver, any ideas what to do with it??

  39. agnes December 14, 2010 at 1:59 am

    What was the weight of the pig in this recipe?
    Thank you!

  40. Carol Kemp November 5, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Hi,

    Thanks for the recipe, just what I was looking for! What was the size/weight of the pig used in this recipe, please? Keep Kune Kune pigs and have an excess of piglets. Was looking to try ways of cooking suckling pigs but only found recipe for larger pigs. Live out in the countryside, slaughter and butcher for home use, pigs are skinned, can you recommend how to remove hairs with scalding on suckling pigs please!

    Looking forward to hearing from you, will be most grateful for you comments! Many thanks!

    Kinf regards.

    Carol. aka Forestlands on Twitter.

  41. Pingback: Healthy Holiday Recipes

  42. Paul December 17, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    I pity the baby pig seeing it sleeping dead, but when it became golden brown, Let’s eat! :) thank you for it to us..
    you may also see my personal blog of lechon business here in the Philippines – Paul

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