Roasting a Suckling Pig

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A suckling pig is a piglet that was slaughtered before it was weaned of her mother’s milk. The meat is very tender and the piglet is pretty small, between 20 to 40 lbs. It’s the perfect size for the rotisserie grill that I built recently.


–        1 Suckling Pig

–        2 Quarts of Sauerkraut

–        2 Apples

–        2 Large Onions

–        20 LB char coal bag

–        Twine

–        Un-coated wire

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You can order piglets from your butcher; it will arrive in a plastic bag, usually not frozen, and ready to be barbecued.

Roasting a pig takes more preparation then flipping burgers on a grill. Overall the prep will take about 2h and the actual roasting another 4 – 5h, a good rule of thumb is 1h per 10lb of pig.

piglet getting washed - CopyWe start by threading the spit rod through the pig and then skewering it with the spit forks in front and back. Make sure the forks are sitting really firm in the meat and are attached well to the rod. To secure it further, attach a U-shaped pipe clamp in the middle of the spine and tighten it against the rod. The rod should not be rotating freely within the pig.

piglet getting stuffed, sewn - CopyRinse the pig off in your bathtub and transfer it to the kitchen table. I like to stuff it with two 1 quart glasses worth of Sauerkraut, a couple cored and chopped apples and a couple of peeled and chopped large onions. After stuffing the pig, use a small kitchen knife to make sewing holes in the pig’s belly skin. The skin is surprisingly tough. Just like a shoe, lace it up with twine or paracord all the way from it’s hind legs to the jaw. Depending of the size of the pig you can attach the legs with wire to the spit in front and back or, like I did under the belly is ok, too.

piglet ready for roasting - CopyThe rod needs to be mounted in the rotisserie, make sure the motor is connected well and the rod is balanced with counter weight.  Put Aluminum foil over the ears and toes, to prevent them from burning. Add a cooking thermometer in the rear cheek and see, if it turns well on the grill.

The coal should be lit in a bbq-chimney outside of the grill. If possible, set the chimney on a grate, i.e. in a fire pit and then transfer the coals after all have started burning. The coals should be laid underneath the pig in a circle, mostly towards the sides of the grill, so it’s mostly indirect heat, especially under the belly. Keep the grill closed and hang another thermometer in to monitor grill temperature. Grill should be at around 350F.

Put an aluminum pan right under the pig’s belly to catch the fat and juices, so they won’t run into the fire and cause flames, because that would char the meat. Open a beer, sit back and wait, occasionally keeping an eye on temperature and rotisserie mechanism and add coal as needed.

According to the FDA, here in the USA, pork should have an internal temperature of 160F before it can be considered fully cooked. We took it out after it reached 150F and were quite happy with the results.

Once the pig has reached temperature, turn off the motor, disconnect the rod from the grill and using oven mits, transfer it to the carving block. Use a large carving board or butcher block or both. You’ll need a cleaver, a sharp chef’s knife and a large bbq fork. Wait until you can touch the rod, and then remove all metal first. Open up the belly and scoop the sauerkraut out into a bowl and use it as a side dish. While using the fork to hold the pig, use the cleaver to sever the parts, i.e. head, shoulders, hind legs. Each one of these parts can then be carved with the chef knife into smaller pieces, i.e. ribs, tender loin, etc. Many pieces can be sliced to make manageable portions for the guests and nicely presented on a buffet on a large platter.

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