Cochinillo Asado: Spanish Roast Suckling Pig

Balinese Suckling Pig on Spit
Beata Bernina / Getty Images
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 2 hrs 40 mins
Total: 2 hrs 55 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
307 Calories
33g Fat
3g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 307
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 33g 43%
Saturated Fat 12g 61%
Cholesterol 41mg 14%
Sodium 134mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 1mg 7%
Calcium 15mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 67mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Cochinillo asado, or roast suckling pig, is a traditional dish of Castille, Spain, especially famous when made in the city of Segovia. Local chefs take pride in the tenderness of their roast pigs and prove how delicate and off the bone the meat is by cutting the pig with a plate instead of a knife. We bring you this delicious dish to enjoy during the holidays or as a celebratory meal.

Although it looks complex to achieve, there's nothing much to it other than some patience and good seasoning. A suckling pig is an ideal centerpiece for a traditional Spanish meal. On the one hand, it's visually amazing and makes a great centerpiece, and on the other, a little pig goes a long way toward feeding a crowd. With the right side dishes, you can make and serve a truly medieval-style banquet in under three hours.

Suckling pigs are much smaller than the pigs that are commonly roasted on an outdoor spit or pit, about one-third of the size. They may be difficult to find in the United States, but it's worth the search, as their flavor has no comparison. Ask your butcher, a local upscale grocer, or an organic meat stand in a farmers market, as they might be able to find you one when ordering in advance. For best results, use extra-virgin Spanish olive oil, which has a sweeter taste than Italian olive oil, but if you can't find it, try a cold-pressed fruity olive oil selection, the best flavor pairing for the tender pig meat.

Ingredients

  • 1 6-pound suckling pig

  • Salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1/2 cup Spanish olive oil

  • 4 ounces butter

  • 2 medium carrots

  • 1 medium yellow onion

  • 2 cups water

Steps to Make It

Prepare and Roast the Pig

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Season piglet inside and out with salt and pepper to taste.

  3. Wrap pig's ears with aluminum foil to stop them from burning.

  4. Place piglet in a large, open roasting pan. Coat with olive oil and place dabs of butter all over.

  5. Place pig in the oven and roast, basting often with pan drippings, for about 2 1/2 hours.

  6. Peel carrots and onion. Slice carrots into 4 pieces each and coarsely chop onion. Reserve.

  7. About 10 minutes before removing piglet from the oven, place carrots and onions in the pan with piglet.

  8. When a safe temperature of 145 F, minimum, is reached at the thickest part of the piglet's meat, away from bone or fat, remove piglet from the oven. Remove the aluminum foil from ears and place piglet on a serving dish, letting it rest for at least 10 minutes before carving. Keep warm in a warming drawer or in the oven on the lowest setting if not serving right away. Be mindful that meat can dry out if left in a warming drawer for too long.

Make the Gravy

  1. While meat rests, pour juices from roasting pan into a large saucepan over medium heat.

  2. Add cooked carrots and onion.

  3. When juices start to sizzle, skim fat off top.

  4. Add water and increase heat to high. Boil mixture to thicken.

  5. Strain gravy through a strainer or cheesecloth.

  6. Serve piglet on a large platter with warm gravy on the side, along with patatas arrugadas (wrinkled potatoes) and a simple green salad.

Gravy Variation

The gravy in the recipe doesn't use the vegetable pieces, but if you'd like to include them, follow this easy variation:

  1. Once the piglet is resting after cooking, pour the pan juices and vegetables into the blender. Blend at high speed with 1/2 cup of water until well processed. Strain the gravy to get rid of small bits and pieces. Reserve.
  2. In a medium pan on medium-high heat, pan sauté 2 cups of sliced white mushrooms in olive oil until golden brown. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add the strained gravy to the mushroom pan and set the temperature to low. Add 1 cup of heavy cream and stir to mix, while warming the gravy. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.
  4. Serve on the side.

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