Suckling pig is one of the most flavorful and delightful roasts. It is a succulent dish consumed all over the world. While it may look complicated, it is not. Suckling pig is one of the EASIEST roasts you can make.
As avid meat eaters and long time Miamians, we know all about cooking amazing pig in the Caja China. There simply is nothing like it.
But what is a Suckling pig?
Also known as Cochinillo, Lechon, Spanferkel or Cochon de lait a suckling pig is a piglet that is fed mostly on its mother's milk and slaughtered the ages of two and six weeks. Suckling pig meat has less fat than an adult pig (about 40%) and it is said that consuming it does not increase cholesterol levels (but what do we know.. it is delicious!).
The meat is pink or pale red, and it has a fresh smell, like a young, unweaned animal. Its texture is firm, but not hard.
How to Roast a Whole Suckling Pig?
Roasting a whole pig may sound intimidating. But is really is not as it is actually pretty much impossible to overcook suckling pig flesh… that is because the flesh of a suckling pig is rich in collagen and has yet to develop strong, robust muscle fibers.
Typically the hardest part about cooking a suckling pig is procuring it. For logistical reasons most supermarkets do not carry them… and the ones that do are usually of very low quality. At Meat N’ Bone we took advantage of our deep network of farms in the US MidWest to procure some high quality amazing white pigs… We only work with Duroc, Cheshire, Landrace and Yorkshire breeds, all white-haired pigs that are known for amazing meat and great flavor. More importantly, we deliver it to your house at no additional cost (in Miami-Dade or Broward).
Segovia purists would recommend just seasoning with Salt and water, and we agree. A good Mojo (Cuban-style) will also go a long way (Recipe at the bottom of the page)… at the end of the day, do what you like.
You can cook a suckling pig with pretty much any set up. From a conventional in-house oven (if it fits) to a grill... but the easiest way may be to use a "Caja China". What matters is that you go low and slow... the key to the perfect suckling pig is to make sure the skin is blistered and crackled. You definitely want that chicharron!
If you are roasting the suckling pig on an oven, 275°F to 300°F is ideal, same applies to la Caja China. It will take 4+ hours (depends on the size of the pig, 25 lbs will take 4.5 hours).
You want to cook the pig until the internal temperature is 160°F (measure at shoulder joint close to the head). During the last hour of cooking turn up the heat and let the skin get crisp... if it doesn't go as planned, you can always put the oven in Broil for a bit.
Once ready, let the meat rest for 30-45 mins. Then serve as desired.
Serving the suckling pig is definitely an experience!
ABOUT THAT MOJO:
When in Miami, do as Miamians do. The most popular seasoning for Suckling Pig is Mojo... which is a a sweet broth made up of oranges, limes, cumin, and other spices. You want to drench the pig in it.. before, during and after cooking the pic. If you are too lazy for Mojo... just do Coarse salt and perhaps some black pepper.
We recommend Roberto Guerra's Mojo recipe:
6 oz. orange juice
2 oz. lemon juice
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon bay leaves
1 garlic bulb
1 teaspoon cumin
3 teaspoon salt
4 oz. of water
Mix all ingredients and let it sit for a about an hour... then strain and inject into the pig. Do not forget to also apply a salt rub all over the pig, we recommend sea salt. If using Mojo, marinate the pig overnight, and allow it to come to room temperature before roasting.