One of the most typical dishes of Spanish gastronomy is roast suckling pig. It is the undisputed king in special celebrations and is popular during the Christmas and New Year holidays. We're giving you the low down on how to prepare a stellar recipe for roast suckling pig at low temperature so you can celebrate special occasions like a Spaniard.
How to Make Suckling Pig Roasted at Low Temperature
To make a roast suckling pig, you need a suckling pig that weighs between 3 and 5 kilos, or 6.5-11 pounds. Cook time and flavor depends on heavily the size of the suckling pig and the smaller the put the juicier. The best part of this dish is that the skin takes on a phenomenal crispy texture (it practically shatters when you cut it), while the inside remains tender and succulent.
Suckling pig is one of the most traditional dishes in the gastronomy of the Castilla y León region in Spain. In the city of Segovia, where this recipe originates, roast suckling pig is prepared with special instruments in giant stone oven, but you can easily roast it in your oven at home.
Recipe: Suckling Pig
Suckling Pig Ingredients
- 1 suckling pig, about 11 lbs.
- Coarse salt
Suckling Pig Preparation
- Remove the suckling pig from the refrigerator well in advance so it can come to room temperature before placing it in the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Grease the pig by rubbing it down with the lard to amplify the fatty texture.
- Season the skin with coarse salt.
- Cover the legs, ears, and tail with aluminum foil. This is an essential step, because some areas of the suckling pig are exceptionally tender and sensitive, and can burn in the oven
- Place a cooling rack or your oven rack over a large roasting pan. Place the suckling pig on top of this rack, making sure it doesn't protrude over the edges.
- Pour a glass of water into the roasting pan, under the pig. The water will turn into a tasty broth as the juices release and trickle down into the pan. The water also increases the moisture in the oven, indispensable in this traditional recipe. Be careful! The pig must not come in contact with the water at any point in the cooking process.
- Place the suckling pig in the 350ºF oven and cook for approximately 90 minutes, until the skin is golden brown but not yet crispy
- Using tongs or large spatulas, flip the pig to cook on the other side. No need tp prick the pig with a fork, you want to keep all those juices inside the meat.
- Return the suckling pig to the oven and increase the oven temperature to 400ºF.
- Let cook for another 45 minutes. At this point, the skin should start to get nice and crispy.
- As the pig cooks check the roasting pan every so often to make sure the water hasn't evaporated. If you see it is drying out, carefully add in more water.
Tips for Preparing Roast Suckling Pig in the Oven
Suckling pig is a surprisingly easy dish to prepare. It doesn't require much work or a slew of ingredients. The most important part of the process is getting the skin nice and crispy and fully cooking the interior to tender perfection. Here are a few tips to help you along the way:
- The suckling pig must not get wet for any reason, neither with water nor with the cooking juices. Once it's ready to serve, you can absolutely drizzle on those juices, but otherwise keep the animal dry throughout the cooking process.
- Like we mentioned, the roasting pan must always have water. It's essential to check the tray throughout the process so the meat doesn't dry out and you get that savory sauce at the end.
- Respect the cooking times and follow the instructions as stated. That means turning the pig after the first hour and a half of cooking and covering the suckling pig's ears, legs, and tail well to prevent them from burning. If the foil comes off while you're flipping the pig, careful place it back on those sensitive areas.
Looking for sides and ways to serve suckling pig? With such a versatile dish, it's hard to go wrong. But potatoes of any kind are an excellent option, along with a traditional but simple salad of lettuce, tomato, and onion.