“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
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.