Cooking suckling pig

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A suckling pig is a piglet fed on its mother’s milk (i.e. a piglet which is still “suckling”). In a factory farm environment suckling pigs are slaughtered between the ages of 2 and 6 weeks. At Wickedfood Earth when we slaughter, we slaughter our suckling pigs at between 8 and 12 weeks. They  vary in weight from 7kg to 12kg (allow approximately 500g of meat per person). As our pigs grow much slower than factory-reared animals, they have a much better flavour. (We do not do suckling pigs at the moment, we however have a limited supply of large pigs at about 50kg per side for bigger groups.)

Suckling pig is traditionally cooked whole, often roasted, or cooked on a spit over an open fire. The meat from suckling pig is pale and tender and the cooked skin should be crisp, and as brittle as glass. In factory-reared animals, the texture of the meat can be somewhat gelatinous due to the amount of collagen in a young pig. For a good quality free-range suckling pig, all that is needed is a good rubbing of salt.

Larger whole pigs are also great for spit-roasting. We do not do suckling pigs at the moment. Should you wish to order a a half pig, please contact Mike on 072 548-8814 or earth@wickedfood.co.za

 Roasting suckling pig in the oven

Roasting sucking pig in the oven is one of the most stress-free ways of entertaining over the Christmas period. If your oven is not large enough to fit the entire pig in, simply cut it into 2 sections, the front end containing the head, shoulder and ribs, and the back section  the two legs. Place the front section on a rack at the top of the oven and the two legs on a tray, below so that the juices from the top section naturally baste the legs as it cooks.

 

3Pig in oven 3s

  1. Rub the skin with oil, and then rub the whole pig liberally with salt. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Transfer the pig to a baking sheet that will fit into your oven. Arrange it stomach down with the back legs tucked underneath and pointing forward, and the front legs tucked underneath .
  3. Roast the pig until it reaches an internal temperature of 60°C in the thickest part of the shoulder or leg, about 2 to 3 hours.
  4. Increase the oven temp to 200°C.
  5. Roast, basting every 15 minutes with oil until skin is brittle and puffed up, about 45 minutes to 1 hour more. (If the ears or snout become too brown, cover with foil). Take care not to burn the skin.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

 

Roasting suckling pig on a spit roast

Although roasting a suckling pig on a spit roast requires a lot more attention, due to the smokiness from the fire, this adds an additional delicious dimension to the flavour of the finished pig. (The principles as described under this section of spit-roasting can also be applied to larger pigs, allowing approximately 30 minutes of cooking time per 5kg of pig.) You need to start your fire at least 4 hours prior to eating.

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  1. Start your fire at least 4 hours prior to eating. Position your pig on the spit,  in such a way that you have space either in the front or the back section of your firebox to continue making coals. Your initial fire should consist of two heaps, one where the shoulder and head will be and the other below the back leg section.
  2. Fasten the pig very securely to the spit so that it cannot move around as it rotates over the coals. (At Wickedfood Earth, we usually secure the four legs to outriggers on the spit, and then fasten the spine at the shoulder, mid-section between the legs with thin wire to the central shaft of the spit, that can easily be removed with pliers once the pig is cooked.)
  3. Rub the skin with oil, and then rub the whole pig liberally with salt.
  4. Once a thin layer of white ash coats your coals, re-distribute them, to give an even heat across the whole base, with slightly less heat in the mid-section. Place the spit shaft with the pig secured into position over the coals and start to rotate.
  5. Roast the pig until it reaches an internal temperature of 60°C in the thickest part of the shoulder or leg, about 2 to 3 hours. Keep a careful eye on heat to ensure an even cooking over the entire carcass, moving the coals around as necessary. Ensure a steady supply of ready coals to replenish those that have burned out.
  6. Once the internal temperature of 60°C is reached, increase the heat by adding more coals under the pig.
  7. Continuing to rotate, basting every 15 minutes with oil until skin is brittle and puffed up,  ±30-45 minutes. (If the ears or snout become too brown, cover with foil. Sometimes we rotate the shaft manually, skin side down to ensure crisp even crackling).
  8. Remove from the fire and allow to rest for 20 minutes. Cut the pig free from the spit and carve.

 

Wickedfood Earth meat

All pork, lamb and beef, used in our recipes come from the Wickedfood Earth farm. Our  animals are all raised completely naturally, in a free-range environment, without the use of routine antibiotics and growth hormones or stimulants. Due to these natural farming practises, our animals take, on average, twice as long to reach maturity. This means that the muscles of the animals get to work, which ensures added flavour. It does also however mean that the meat quite often benefits from being cooked at lower temperatures for longer periods.

Wickedfood Earth encompasses:

  • A working farm  – our vegetable gardens are planted with a wide variety of naturally grown produce, we have an extensive fruit and berry orchard, and a wide variety of animals including pigs, indigenous sheep and cattle.
  • A Country Cooking School, – the commercial arm, offering cooking classes for both individuals and corporate groups, which ensures that the project is sustainable; and
  • A community upliftment training project, – where we are giving back to local communities in the form of skills training, from permaculture farming practises, through to cooking and processing. All products produced on the farm, and during training, are available for sale to clients at the Country Cooking School and Wickedfood Earth online market.

We do not do suckling pigs at the moment. Should you wish to order a a half pig, please contact Mike on 072 548-8814 or earth@wickedfood.co.za