This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed at home. This little piggy had roast beef, this little piggy had none and this little piggy cried ” ah crap, it’s gonna be hot in here “. Funnily enough that was the nursery rhyme which came to mind when I was preparing the suckling pig for roasting on our spit roaster.
This post is for the meat eaters, Vegetarians you have been warned. Anyway, sometimes having a normal barbecue just isn’t enough. This weekend we decided to make things a bit more interesting by ordering a 12kg baby pig from our local butcher. It set us back roughly $200, which is pretty good value considering it costs about $30/kg if you buy it pre-roasted from the Chinese barbecue stores. Not only is it fun, but you save a lot of money by roasting it yourself.
I remember the first time we tried roasting a lamb or pig ourselves, we were quite intimidated. The fear of over cooking or a crappy tasting marinade can make or break a $200 piece of meat. When you have guests around looking forward to the main event, you wan’t to make sure that it tastes damn bloody good.
Cooking a suckling pig on the spit roast is not rocket science though. I’ll show you how easy it was to do. The hardest part is probably figuring out how you would marinade the pig since it is so big. We are fortunate enough to have access to a fridge cool room. Equally as important is making sure you buy a decent sized pig. I’ve been told that 12kg is a good weight, because anything weighing more may mean it is just full of fat rather than meat. For the spit, if you buy the pig from an Asian Butcher you can also hire the spit. It should be around $30-40 to hire it, if they are generous they might even let you borrow it for free.
We didn’t stick to a particular recipe, it was more a mash up of what we found in the pantry as well as some tips from Linda’s Mum. I don’t have exact portions on me, but we used a combination of the following :
Only marinade the inside of the pig, not the outside. Rub the inside of the pig thoroughly. If possible, let it marinate over night, the longer the better. But if you don’t have a fridge big enough (99% of people) then marinating for an hour or two should be fine. This is very important, to not baste the outside of the skin with the marinade. It will probably make the skin chewy and not form any crackle at all.
If you don’t have a spit roaster, ask your butcher to see if you can borrow one. If you are in the market for your own, Kmart sell a Jackeroo one for $299 which I think is a bargain. It has a motor attached to it and holds upto 20kg. Our pig was 12kg and it could easily feed 10 people.
For the heat, we only used heat beads and pieces of bark from a tree outside Linda’s house. Next time, we might try using charcoal or apple wood to see what results we can come up with. To speed up the heat bead heating process, we put it over a gas stove until they turn bright red. We had the spit heating up about 40 minutes before cooking time. If you are using charcoal you will probably need to start it up a bit earlier.
I think the most important thing about this stage is making sure the pig is securely attached. The last thing you want the pig to not cook evenly or even fall into the coals because it wasn’t secure enough. Make sure the metal pole is put into the pig’s ass and mouth, it’s probably the best way to keep it from falling off the pole.
Contrary to what the picture above may suggest, no animals were harmed during the cooking process.
Try get your hands on some chicken wire, it will help tying up certain parts of the pig such as it’s legs.
And how long to cook it for ? This depends on your heat source, I’d say anywhere between 3 and 6 hours.
First of all and I’ll mention this again, do not baste the skin. From past experience it make the skin chewy and gives you less of a chance to get perfect crackling. Instead, rub copious amounts of salt onto the skin just before the pig is fully cooked. The salt draws out moisture from the pig.
If possible, lower the pig so that they are closer to the coals. The fat from the pig will drip onto the coals and flames should start appearing. The flames will start to cook the skin even further and if you’ve done it right, the skin should start to crackle.
Bloody fantastic. I can’t imagine a better way to cook suckling pig. The meat was very moist and juicy and the crackling was to die for. It’s a great feeling to cook this thing from scratch and even better when you have a few mates over with beers to chat all day with. I’d say it took about 3 hours to cook, but it didn’t cook all the way through. We had to cut it up into pieces and put them back onto the bbq for another 30 minutes. Some of the hard to read places of the pig would be impossible to cook evenly without cutting it up, unless you slow cook it for 5 or 6 hours which is something I might try next time.
Also, feel free to experiment with marinades. There is no right or wrong way to do it, but our one was a real crowd pleaser.
Poor Linda, she is not eating meat and had to miss out on this epic feast. As consolation, she had prawns, hah!
Suckling pig is also great in a bread roll. Along with the beautiful suckling pig, in the roll was pickled radish, sriracha chilli sauce, cucumber and hoisin sauce. If you have a better combination for a suckling pig roll let me know! We also served it Vietnamese wraps style with fresh Vietnamese herbs, rice noodles, cucumbers, pickled radish and shrimp paste sauce.
So there you have it, a trial and error guide on how to roast a suckling pig. You must give it a go especially with the cold weather coming up. The hot coals will keep you warm, and cook a bloody good suckling pig too.
5 friends from Sydney who don't mind having a good feed now and then. Throw in some food photography and the odd recipe and travel post and you have eatshowandtell.
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