Suckling Pig in Plum Sauce

“Buy me a cup of Arbor gold, Hopfrog, and perhaps I won’t inform my father of your toast. The tiles turned against me at the Checkered Hazard, and I wasted my last stag on supper. Suckling pig in plum sauce, stuffed with chestnuts and white truffles. A man must eat.” -A Feast for Crows


Esteban, the suckling pig

Our Thoughts:

Since we started this blog, we have desperately wanted to make suckling pig in plum sauce. Our own roast pig, lovingly named “Esteban,” was the star of our premier party. Despite his needy nature, what with the days of brining, hours of slow and low roasting, and incremental basting, Esteban was delicious. The skin was crisp, and the meat incredibly tender and juicy. Serving with the plum sauce made an epic pairing.

We opted for a smaller suckling pig, as we didn’t have the option of roasting outside on a spit or in a pit. Generally, pigs above about 18 pounds do not fit in regular home ovens. Our pig was 16 pounds, and just fit in one of our ovens on a slight diagonal. Larger pigs obviously require a longer roasting time, and the roasting method changes the cook time as well.

Esteban was born and raised on the pastures of Sugar Mountain Farm, in Vermont. Sugar Mountain is currently raising money through Kickstarter to build their own abattoir. Be sure to support their great project! Many thanks to Walter and Holly, as well as our fearless courier and pig christener, Gavi.

Suckling Pig Recipe

  • suckling pig (generally 12 to 50 pounds)
  • 3 cups pickling, or kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. whole cloves
  • 2 Tbsp. peppercorns
  • 4 cups mushrooms
  • 2 cups roasted and peeled chestnuts
  • 2 apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 whole apple
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Into a large cooler, pour the salt, sugar, cloves, and peppercorns, and add cold water, mixing until dissolved. Once dissolved, place your pig in the water, and continue adding water till covered. Water should be about 40 F, so add ice until the water is consistently 40 F. Leave the pig in the brine for 2 to 3 days, using the melting ice cubes as an indicator of the water temperature. The goal is to keep the water at a consistent 40 F.

Preheat the oven to 250 F. Remove the pig from the brine, rinse, drain, and pat dry. Place the pig on its back and stuff with the mushrooms, chestnuts, chopped apples, and onion. Using butchers twine and a kitchen needle (or a large darning needle), sew the cavity back up. Place the pig, belly down on a large baking sheet or roasting pan, with a rack on it. Really whatever is big enough to fit it. Make sure to pull the hind legs forward to lay along side the body, and situate the front legs underneath the head and neck. Use crumpled foil balls tucked along its side to support the pig and keep its back aligned. Place another foil ball in the mouth and replace with an apple after cooking, or use an apple now (it will get mushy and may need to be replaced for presentation).

Place the pig in the preheated oven, and cook for about 2.5 hours, or until your meat thermometer reads 130 F when inserted into the thigh without touching the bone. At this point, increase the oven temperature to 400 F and baste the pig with olive oil. Roast for an additional hour, or until internal temperature reaches 160 F, basting with olive oil every 15 minutes.

Remove the pig from the over, cover with tin foil, and rest for 15 minutes before moving to a serving platter. To carve, slice along the spine, and between the ribs to open a portion of the midsection, allowing diners access to the stuffing. Carve the haunches as you would a turkey leg.

Plum Sauce Recipe

  • 6 black plums, cubed with stones removed
  • 1 cup port
  • 1 tsp. aleppo pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper

Add all ingredients to a large saucepan and simmer till the plums break down. Using a potato masher, break up any remaining large pieces of plum. Allow to simmer for 10 more minutes. The sauce will have a hearty texture, but can be smoothed by using an immersion blender, regular blender, or by pushing it through sieve. Serve hot along side pork.

Leave a Reply

    • Well, change the generic mushrooms in the recipe for something a bit more… interesting… and that may well be the case.

  1. I’ve always wondered… what does the apple in the mouth actually do? And if it’s just for presentation, does anyone know where the practice originated from and why?

    • From what I understand, it doesn’t have to be an apple, but having an object in the pig’s mouth when roasting it softens the appearance of the face after the muscles and skins are tightened from the heat. As to why an apple is traditional, I can only assume it has to do with the long-standing pairing of apples and pork- pigs used to graze in apple orchards, it was though to (and probably did) sweeten the meat, and of course we are used to pairing pork with apples. If anyone knows where this tradition originated, we would love to hear!

  2. M-m-m, the suckling pig… I’ve been dreaming about it for a while, when roasting a pork leg. How was the skin, what do you mean by “crisp”? Parts of my pork leg skin usually is soft and delicious, part is too “crisp” to chew without harming your teeth. I baste often, but cannot achieve the tender yet well roasted skin.
    I would add more quartered apples along the roasting pig to use as additional side.
    Thank you for the brine recipe, I will use it next time I make pork leg.

  3. What happened to the white truffles the recipe calls for? I’m for Piedmont, where the best white truffles are from (along with Barolo red wine) so if you need a few (and have a few -thousand- bucks to spend) let me know! ;-)

    • Haha! That “few thousand bucks” is exactly what happened to them! Maybe some day we can come try them in person, though! :)

  4. In place of foil or an apple, you can use a squat can, like the sort tomato paste comes in, to put in the mouth. Except for being allergic to mushrooms, it looks wonderful. I’d have added sage to the stuffing, personally. I think sage and apples and pork and onions are almost an ideal combination.

  5. I just might have to roast one of these for my 23rd nameday, they are always the event of the year and I always try to go bigger each year!

  6. The ideal way to remove the apple, of course, is to shoot it with an arrow so that the force tears it from the pig’s mouth and it sticks in the wall behind the pig.

    Wrong book series, I know, but I couldn’t resist…