How To Perfectly Cook a Suckling Pig at Home
It’s not often you see suckling pig on a restaurant menu. While the dish is quite popular across Europe and Asia, it hasn’t caught on with as much gusto here in the States. So when a restaurant has it on offer, many gourmands usually jump at the chance to indulge. One such place to find expertly-prepared suckling pig is at one-MICHELIN-starred Lord Stanley in San Francisco. There, chef/owners Rupert and Carrie Blease have created a simple and refined menu that’s influenced by European and British cuisine. And while their offerings change with the seasons, suckling pig often makes an appearance.
“At first I was a little bit worried that people wouldn’t go for it, but it’s a popular dish,” Rupert says. “And we’re one of the few restaurants here that do it.”
Suckling pig isn’t popular among U.S. pork farmers; as meat is sold by the pound, they don’t make much profit off of young animals, so restaurants interested in serving the dish turn to small specialty producers. Steady restaurant clients like Lord Stanley incentivize the farmers to continue offering the product.
For curious home cooks looking to give it a try themselves, we turned to Rupert Blease to get some insight on the best sourcing and cooking techniques for suckling pig.
Befriend Your ButcherIf you’re interested in obtaining specialty cuts of meat, make friends with your local butcher. They have close relationships with the farmers who supply their meat, so they can relay the demand for hard-to-find items like suckling pig. “There’s not a massive market for it, so there’s not a lot around,” Blease says. “But if you go to a good butcher, then they’ll have a good relationship with their supplier and it’s possible to get some.”
Break It DownIf your backyard is outfitted with a spit, then by all means, cook that pig whole right over an open flame. But Blease explains that different parts of the pig require different cooking times, so you’re better off having your butcher break down the animal into eight different pieces. “When they come in, we break them down into two legs, two thighs and then we’ll take both the saddle and the rack and cut those in half down the spine,” he says. If it’s your first time cooking suckling pig, working with separate pieces is a much easier feat than trying to fit the whole animal in your oven.
Choose the Proper Cooking Technique
This article written by Amanda Gabriele first appeared on the MICHELIN Guide digital platform. View it here.
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