The Cochinillo is traditionally roasted in a domed shaped bread oven with aromatic burning herbs, wild oak, and pieces of cut vines. This makes the Cochinillo aromatically delicious.
In our modern times, there are many ways to achieve this even without the traditional oven, it is easier and with the same flavor (at least) of a smoked wood.
A suckling pig is a young pig or piglet that is still breastfeeding on a mother pig. In cooking, a suckling pig is slaughtered at the age of not more than 3 weeks old (or piglets that are not yet weaned) and weigh from 3 to 4 kg (7 ¾ to 8 ¾ lbs.) It is split in half and opened out for routing. Although for households using small oven, it may be suggested to quarter the piglet. But if you have a big oven, it is most grand to lay it all flat, especially for Holidays.
This recipe is inspired from a heritage recipe in Castille, Spain. The meat is very tender you can slice it with a plate and yet the skin is very crispy. How do you achieve that? One secret is also in the cooking technique.. find out how below. Another aspect is also in the raw material. How the mother pig is fed, or the origin of the suckling pig. This ensures that the meat remains clean, white and the skin crisp.
According to Insider: “In Segovia Suckling Pig, or Cochinillo de Segovia, is a local Spanish dish with meat so tender, it is cut using a dull plate. It’s found only in Segovia, Spain at Mesón de Cándido. Restaurant owner Luis Alberto Cándido carves the pig then shatters the plate on the ground to signify his welcome.”
How to make the Lechon Crispy and Golden Red?
Glaze it with milk 3 tablespoon milk with 2 tablespoon oil. Another technique is to use a Torch. Torch it in just before serving (be careful not to burn it).
Cochinillo Asado Recipe (Roasted Suckling Pig)
- 1 suckling pig 3.5-4 kg (7 ¾ – 8 ¾ lb.)
- 100g (3 ½ oz.) Lard (or butter)
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 bay leaves, crushed
- sprig of thyme (½ teaspoon of dried thyme)
- sprig of rosemary (½ teaspoon of dried rosemary)
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp Wright liquid smoke (Hickory)
- For Glaze: (to make the skin golden red brown)
- 3 tbsp milk
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- You will need: Roasting pan with grill (greased heavily)
- Have the butcher open the piglet lengthwise without cutting through and ask to remove the back bone. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F or Gas 6) Wrap foil around the ears and feet to keep them from browning too fast.
- Beat the lard and add the garlic. Place the pig, skin side down, and spread the meat with half the lard. Sprinkle with a little bay, thyme and rosemary (the pig can also be placed on top of branches of bay stripped of their leaves).
- Add enough hot water to cover the bottom of the roasting pan. Place the pig in the preheated oven and immediately turn down the heat to 160°C (325°F, gas 3).
- Roast the pig for 1 hour, adding additional water if needed to keep skin from sticking to the pan. Remove from the oven and carefully turn the meat skin side up.
- With a fork or knitting needle, prick the skin all over and brush with liquid smoke and the remaining lard. Return to the oven for 15 minutes. Then mix the salt, vinegar and water and baste the meat with it and roast again.
- Then, baste once again with the milk glaze to make it reddish, until the skin is crackly, about 30 minutes (you may increase oven temperature this time, to make it more golden red).
- Turn off the oven as soon as you reach the perfect golden color of the skin.