Know Your Meat: Suckling Pig

A Suckling Pig Makes It a Party

You’ve probably seen a suckling pig before even if you’ve never had the chance to taste one. They show up in movies and on television, because nothing says “feast” like a whole pig on a platter, roasted brown. A suckling pig is enough to feed a large gathering—and roasting one can be an event in itself.

D’Arcy’s Meat Market is happy to bring suckling pigs to the Edmonton meat market. Our suckling pigs are sourced locally, here in Alberta, and they weigh in at about 45 pounds per pig—enough for a gathering of 20 to 30 people.

You can find a lot of fun and adventurous ways to spice, marinade, stuff, or baste the pig with whatever you have handy, from garlic and salt to hot peppers to butter and beer. Cooked properly, the meat from a suckling pig is mild and tender, with a strong pork flavor. The skin should become brown and crisp. Many chefs choose to brine the pig in a tub the night before to ensure that the final product is juicy.

Low angle view of three pigs roasting on a spit

Since you’re dealing with a whole pig (more or less) there are some tricks to get the best results around the parts you don’t normally cook. Wrapping the ears in foil, for example, can help them cook up nicely without burning. It’s also a good idea to prop the mouth open during roasting. You can do this with a ball of foil, but it might be more fun (and tasty) to use an apple. You’re not required to buy the whole pig either, come into the meat market and you can try certain cuts to experience the flavour and quality of the meat.

A suckling pig is pork, so you will want to account for the danger of trichinosis. A meat thermometer can be a big help in making sure you hit the right temperature without overdoing it. Remember that pork is safe after only 15 seconds at 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius), so you can cook it thoroughly and still have it be juicy and tender.

If you have an oven large enough, you can slow-roast your suckling pig there. But different cultures have different ways to roast a pig outside that can make it the centerpiece of an outdoor gathering. You can roast it Hawaiian-style, wrapped in banana leaves in a pit (line the pit with chicken wire and foil); or Filipino-style, on a spit over an open fire (baste it with something delicious and keep it turning); or you can build a temporary, outdoor charcoal oven out of cinderblocks and roast it Cuban-style. Whatever you do, enlist your friends to help and be sure to have fun!

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