Suckling pig – a pig fit for a king
Serves 15 to 20
- 1 suckling pig, head on, c7kg (15lb)
- 1.5kg (3lb 5oz) pork mince
- 1.5kg (3lb 5oz) venison mince
- Salt and pepper
- 200g (7oz) breadcrumbs
- Large bunch sage, chopped
- Large bunch thyme, chopped
- Large bunch parsley, chopped
- 6 banana shallots, finely diced
- 1 glass cognac (make sure it’s the
- good stuff, not cooking brandy)
- 600g foie gras (one lobe)
YOU WILL NEED
- Trussing needle
- Ball of butcher’s string
- Big roasting tray
- Apple for its mouth
- Oil and sea salt for the skin
Lay the gutted pig on its back on your biggest chopping board. With sharp boning knife, split the sternum to the neck. Now cut between the ribs and the skin, keeping the boning knife tight against the ribs, working your way along and down. When the ribcage is standing up isolated from the meat, you are on your way.
Next cut down the inside of the thighs, following the femur to the hip socket. Remove it carefully. (Leave the last bone in the trotter alone.) Do this on both sides. Now work your way along the sides of the spine, being careful not to break the skin on the back. Work the knife around the H bone (pelvis) very carefully. Follow the bones as your guides. Cut the spine through the last joint before the pelvis and lift the pelvis out.
Now very carefully take the ribs and spine out, taking pains not to cut the skin. Cut the spine for the last time at the Atlas joint (where the neck meets the skull), which will be evident. Remove the shoulder blades.
You should now have a fully deboned piglet, ready for stuffing, with the head still attached. If in any doubt, try this first on a rabbit, which has exactly the same physiology.
Now for the stuffing. Put all the meat in a really big bowl or bucket. Mix the pork and venison together really well, then season the mix. Add the breadcrumbs, herbs, shallots and cognac. Finally, chop the lobe of foie gras into 1cm (1⁄3in) chunks and add those, too. (We sneaked a couple of chopped English truffles into ours out of sheer devilment.) Season the inside of the piglet well and pack the stuffing into the thigh and shoulder cavities. Lay a thick layer of it along the line of the back and bring the thighs together. Stitch the cavity from bum to beak with the needle and string pulling the skin tight as you go. I advise a running stitch every inch or so.
When done, lay the beast on a big tray and curl it around slightly, laying its chin on its trotters. An apple in its mouth and a surrounding of rosemary bunches finishes it off. Rub the skin with oil, then sea salt.
Place the pig in a 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3 oven for three hours, checking regularly for signs of burning. (If it scorches, turn it down). With a meat thermometer, check the centre of the stuffing has reached 65°C/149°F, then turn up the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7 for 45 minutes to crisp the skin.
Serve on a magnificent wooden board at the table, surrounded by roasted shallots and garlic, some red cabbage and that big bottle of champagne. I would recommend a Nebuchadnezzar of Taittinger.
To go with suckling pig try farcement potatoes