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My First Suckling Pig Odyssey

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  • JCBBQ
    Club Member
    • Jan 2016
    • 1065
    • Jersey City, NJ
    • Primo Oval XL Ceramic Cooker
      Pit Barrel Cooker
      2x Mavrick 732
      Therma Pen Orange
      Favorite Bourbon Blanton's
      SF Giants

      MCS wish list - Lone Star Grillz off set

    My First Suckling Pig Odyssey

    Around Christmas I got the idea that I needed to cook a suckling pig. I spent most of January scouring the internet looking for advice on how to tackle this. My “go to” sites – Amazingribs.com, Serious Eats, and Chefsteps all had completely different approaches. I was confused about what I should do. I would be cooking the pig in my Primo Oval XL so that eliminated certain approaches due to size constraints and functionality. I consulted youtube. I believe I’ve seen every youtube video on cooking suckling pigs…at least once! The vast majority of the videos approached cooking the pig on a spit. Primo doesn’t have a rotisserie so that was out. I needed something that would best suit my ceramic cooker.

    I came across this video below from the Philippines and knew I’d found my muse.Just skip to 1:15 on this video.The sound of them cutting into the pig is REDONKULOUS!I literally groan every time I watch it.The more I discovered about how this woman prepares her suckling pig the more I liked it.First off, her nickname is “The Lechon Diva”.Lechon is what Filipinos call suckling pig.How perfect is that??! Secondly, a little digging on the net and I found a picture of her custom cookers.They are brick ovens – very similar to how my ceramic cooker cooks.Third, she became famous for stuffing her pigs with a truffle rice.That not only added to the whole presentation but scented the pig from within.I liked that idea a lot.

    Here's the video.

    Next, sourcing a pig, I realized, could be a bit of a challenge. Well it could have been a challenge but since I knew I could order one on line from McReynold’s Farms I didn’t spend too much time looking. Note to self, source this locally for future cooks – the shipping alone added $80! I guess that’s the price of laziness. Having no real clue how big a pig would fit in my Primo XL, I took a wild guess and ordered a 15lb pig. Most sources say that you need 1.5lbs per consumer so that would be good for 10 people. Luckily for me I called McReynold’s Farm about a month before the planned cook date. They couldn’t get their hands on one that size – they could find a 10lber or a 20lber. I opted for the 20lber and invited a few more friends.

    So thanks to The Lechon Diva, I had a strategy but I didn’t really have a specific plan. I sent a FaceBook message her restaurant page to see if she would cough up cooking instructions but got no replay
    J Kenji Lopez-Alt says a 20lb pig would take 4hrs in his oven at 275-300 plus another ½ hour at 500 for crisping the skin. But he didn’t have his pig stuffed with rice. I found a recipe by Emeril for a pig stuffed with rice and beans. He said 20 mins per pound at 350 degrees. That would be 6hrs 40 mins. And he said if it wasn’t stuffed it would be 5hrs. Hotter and longer…huh? That seems like a huge discrepancy in time and temp. I was going to have to take the plunge and pick a strategy.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	this little piggie came from market.jpg Views:	1 Size:	2.13 MB ID:	288408Click image for larger version  Name:	How big is a 20lb pig.jpg Views:	2 Size:	2.96 MB ID:	288405

    I got my little piggie on Thursday morning.It was still partially frozen so I stuck it in the fridge to thaw until Friday.Friday, I gave it a good rinsing and drying inside and out. Then dry brined the inside with a good amount of salt.Saturday I made some Persian Jeweled Rice from here:

    Made ChefSteps’ Medieval Sweet Spice:

    I Rubbed the entire insides heavily with the spices, filled the cavity with the rice – about 5.5lbs fit snugly, sewed it up, then salted the skin and popped it back in the fridge til morning.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	stuffed and stiched.jpg Views:	1 Size:	1.59 MB ID:	288406Click image for larger version  Name:	ready just waitng on the temp.jpg Views:	1 Size:	1.87 MB ID:	288404Click image for larger version  Name:	just fit.jpg Views:	1 Size:	1.98 MB ID:	288407

    Sunday -the day of the feast- had come and I still wasn’t sure how I was going to cook this bad boy. Guest were arriving at 3 and my plan was to eat by 4. Kenji says that his 20lb pig took 4hrs and his pig wasn’t stuffed. Surely my (now 25lb w rice) pig would take longer. He does say that you can take the pig off the heat for up to 2hrs (before crisping at high heat) if your pig is done before the guests are ready. That information turned out to be a godsend. I put my pig on at 9 thinking it would take probably at least 5hrs to cook. The Primo settled in at 288 degrees so that’s the temp I went with. Well, the pig cooked much faster than I thought it would. After 3 hrs it was almost at 160! Shoot! That was way too early. I decided to cook it for another hour rather than let it sit for longer than two hours. I ended up taking it off after four hours and a temp of 167. Once the guest arrived I put it back on for 30 mins to crisp up the skin. After 30 mins I checked and all the skin wasn’t crispy enough, so I put it back on and checked 20 mins later. Perfecto!

    Click image for larger version  Name:	2hrs in .jpg Views:	1 Size:	2.19 MB ID:	288410Click image for larger version  Name:	Cooked.jpg Views:	1 Size:	210.4 KB ID:	288402Click image for larger version  Name:	opend up for eating.jpg Views:	1 Size:	2.01 MB ID:	288409

    I am not ready to call myself the “Lechon Divo” but I got a beautiful crunch when I cut into it, and, for my first attempt, I was very happy with the outcome. I really loved the combination of the spices, with that rice dish and the delicate suckling pig flavor. Actually it’s a very easy thing to cook. If I had a clue about the timing I wouldn’t have stressed at all. Next time I’d do a couple things differently. I’d take the meat off at 155 bc it might take closer to an hour rather than 30 mins to crisp the skin at high heat. I’d also rotate the pig during the cook. I wasn’t really paying attention to my cooker but the left side was definitely hotter than the right side. I’ve noticed this happens in cold weather with my Primo.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	Done.jpg Views:	1 Size:	1.39 MB ID:	288403

    Thank you for indulging me with this verbose report. It’s a festive and fun cook and all the guests were excited to see and taste the results. As you can see they picked that sucker clean – we even ate the brain. I will definitely be making this again and will probably replace my Thanksgiving turkey with it this year. I hope this will inspire you to make one too – I promise you that you won’t regret it.
    Last edited by JCBBQ; May 4, 2017, 06:44 PM.
  • fuzzydaddy
    Charter Member
    • Nov 2014
    • 4970
    • Winchester TN
    • Hardware
      Blackstone 36” Griddle.
      Slow 'N Sear Deluxe Kamado & Kettle Grill.
      Slow 'N Sear (1.0, Deluxe, 2.0).
      DnG Pans/Racks, Easy Spin Grates, Elevated Cooking Grates.
      Weber Chimney Starters (regular and compact).
      Joule, Instant Accu Slim.
      GrillGrates.
      Maverick XR-50 [my favorite].
      ThermoWorks Smoke & Gateway, Thermapen, Thermapop, ChefAlarms, DOT, probes

      Consumables / Favorites
      KBB (short cooks), Weber (long cooks), B&B Hardwood Briquettes when I'm out of Weber.
      Ribs (beef & pork), Pork Butts, Chuck Roasts, Pork Tenderloins, Shrimp, Fajitas.
      SnS Grills salt free rubs: Not Just for Beef & Rocky’s Rub.
      MeatChurch Holy Cow. MMD, BBBR, S&G, Herbs de Provence, SPG.

    #2
    Great writeup and photos! Thanks for taking us on your journey.

    Comment


    • JCBBQ
      JCBBQ commented
      Editing a comment
      My pleasure. I think about sharing w the Pit every time I cook something!
  • customtrim
    Former Member
    • Dec 2016
    • 1119
    • stow ohio

    #3
    Nice job for the first time attempting this i would take a bow

    Comment


    • JCBBQ
      JCBBQ commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks, man! I was very happy.
  • lschweig
    Former Member
    • Jul 2014
    • 979
    • Oswego, Il

    #4
    Wow! I have done a couple of whole pigs (one with sauerkraut and sausage stuffing) and was super impressed with both.

    In Chicago there is an area known as Greek Town with a number of locally famous restaurants and is really fun to go to. I almost always would order the suckling pig (no stuffing) and enjoy it.

    Now you may have sparked my interest in doing one myself!

    Comment


    • JCBBQ
      JCBBQ commented
      Editing a comment
      Oooh sauerkraut and sausage - that sounds delish! I can't make anything bigger than 20lbs. That JUST fit.
  • TheCountofQ
    Former Member
    • Apr 2015
    • 503
    • Tulsa, Oklahoma

    #5
    Tempted to use the half carved photo as a screen saver.

    Comment


    • JCBBQ
      JCBBQ commented
      Editing a comment
      Go for it!
  • EdF
    EdF
    Club Member
    • Jul 2016
    • 3229
    • Atlantic Highlands, NJ
    • Uuni Pro (new kid in town)
      Karubeque C-60
      Large BGE since 2002 + plate setter + pizza stone + upper grid + stainless paella pan for drippings (the best!)
      TEC Cherokee FR since 2014 (portable infrared grill - does a mighty sear)
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      Thermapen
      Thermapen Air
      ThermaQ (or its predecessor)
      Thermoworks Hi temp IR
      BBQ Dragon & Chimney of Insanity
      Various other stuff

    #6
    That was one hell of a great cooking adventure! Hats off to you!

    Comment


    • JCBBQ
      JCBBQ commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks EdF, it was a blast. BTW, one of my guests know where to get the next one. There's a Portuguese place in Newark. I'm sure it'll be a LOT cheaper.
  • RonB
    Club Member
    • Apr 2016
    • 13159
    • Near Richmond VA
    • Weber Performer Deluxe
      SNS
      Pizza insert
      Rotisserie
      Smokenator 1000
      Cookshack Smokette Elite
      2 Thermapens
      Chefalarm
      Dot
      lots of probes.
      CyberQ

    #7
    I agree - a great write up and great photos too.

    Comment

    • Mr. Bones
      Charter Member
      • Sep 2016
      • 9763
      • Kansas Territory
      • Grills / Smokers
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        Weber 22.5 Bar-B-Q Kettle '69-'70 "Patent Pending" Red ($80) from fellow WKC member dwnthehatch 'Maureen'
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        Weber "C" Code 18.5" WSM '81 ($50 CL) 8-0!!!
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        Good One Open Range, (FREE), Monthly Prize from AR giveaway!!!!



        Thermometers:
        *********************************************
        Ol' Skool Bi-metal probe pocket thermo, that has checked / served ~ 1,000,000 meals in my possession, easily...
        Maverick ET-732, (Black)
        Thermopops, (Red, Yellow, Green)
        ThermaPen Mk4 (Black), THANKS!!! to jgjeske1
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        Accessories:
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        Cookware:
        Probably a ton of cast iron, mostly very old...still cookin'
        G'Ma's Piqua skillet, :-)( They went out of business in 1934~)
        '60's Revere Ware (Mom's), + others found elsewhere
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        Shi*-ton of kitchen/chef knives, most sharper than my straight-razors are. (Better steel!) Chicago Cutlery, Old Hickory, various, including some nice German stuff ;-)
        Dexter 12" slicing knife, 6" Sani-Safe boning knife
        Smith's Tri-Hone Natural Arkansas Knife Sharpening System
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        Tableware
        Daily driver:Washington Forge Mardi Gras, Navy / Cobalt Blue
        Dinner: Guests: Washington Forge, Town and Country
        Fancy / Formal: Family silverware

      #8
      Thanks fer th' informative an' entertainin' writeup, as well as th' cool pics!!!
      Looks like a fantastic cook!!!!

      Comment

      • DWCowles
        Founding Member
        • Jul 2014
        • 9703
        • Smiths Grove, Ky
        • Hi, my name is Darrell. I'm an OTR truck driver for over 25 years. During my off time I love doing backyard cooks. I have a 48" Lang Deluxe smoker, Rec-Tec pellet smoker,1 Weber Genesis 330, 1 Weber Performer (blue), 2 Weber kettles (1 black and 1 Copper), 1 26" Weber kettle, a WSM, 8 Maverick Redi Chek thermometers, a PartyQ, 2 SnS, Grill Grates, Cast Iron grates, 1 ThermoPop (orange) and 2 ThermoPens (pink and orange) and planning on adding more cooking accessories. Now I have an Anova sous vide, the Dragon blower and 2 Chef alarms from Thermoworks.

        #9
        Beautiful! Well it was beautiful 😂

        Comment


        • JCBBQ
          JCBBQ commented
          Editing a comment
          hahaha
      • ecowper
        Founding Member
        • Jul 2014
        • 3498
        • Maple Valley, WA
        • Grill = Hasty-Bake Gourmet Dual Finish
          Smoke = Weber Smokey Mountain 22.5"

          Thermometer = FireBoard FBX11 with 2 ambient and 6 meat probes
          Thermometer = Maverick ET732
          Thermometer = ThermoWorks Chef Alarm
          Thermapen Mk IV = Light blue
          Thermapen Classic = Grey
          PID Controller = Fireboard Drive + Auber 20 CFM Fan

          Favorite cook = Tri-Tip for the grill, whole packer brisket for the smoker
          Favorite wine = a good Bordeaux with steak, a good Syrah with pork, or a nice bottle of Champagne or California sparkling wine
          Favorite beer = Sam Adams Boston Lager or Shiner Bock
          Favorite whisky = Lagavulin 16 year old single malt

          Best Cookbooks - Meathead's "The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", Chris Lilly's "Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book", Aaron Franklin's "Franklin BBQ"


          Eric Cowperthwaite aka ecowper

        #10
        I am thinking about doing this on the Hasty-Bake for my 50th bday in May ...... I think it's gonna be super fun. Thanks for this write up, lots of food for thought and help for my planning.

        Comment


        • JCBBQ
          JCBBQ commented
          Editing a comment
          Do it! Find a local source for pigs now so you don't pay through the nose like I did.
      • JCBBQ
        Club Member
        • Jan 2016
        • 1065
        • Jersey City, NJ
        • Primo Oval XL Ceramic Cooker
          Pit Barrel Cooker
          2x Mavrick 732
          Therma Pen Orange
          Favorite Bourbon Blanton's
          SF Giants

          MCS wish list - Lone Star Grillz off set

        #11
        Sarahlynn , I finally made the suckling pig. Turned out to be a pretty easy cook.

        Comment


        • Guest's Avatar
          Guest commented
          Editing a comment
          JCBBQ How'd the skin turn out? I think I may have met the Lechon Diva on my last trip home, as it turns out!

        • JCBBQ
          JCBBQ commented
          Editing a comment
          Sarahlynn, it turned out great. Very crispy. No kidding! That's great, so did you eat at her place?

        • Guest's Avatar
          Guest commented
          Editing a comment
          JCBBQ No, she had a lechon at a gala for the Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement at the National Museum in Manila.
      • gijsveltman
        Club Member
        • Dec 2016
        • 201
        • San Salvador, El Salvador

        #12
        That looks amazing JCBBQ ! I'm preparing to do a suckling pig soon, and your advice will be valuable. When you talk about the temperature of the pig, where exactly were you measuring at? Or did you try different parts?

        Comment


        • gijsveltman
          gijsveltman commented
          Editing a comment
          It's either the spit or a Caja China! We'll see! What were the ribs like when you took them [email protected]

        • JCBBQ
          JCBBQ commented
          Editing a comment
          Caja China - in Louisiana they're know as a Cajun Microwave I had a buddy from Georgia who used to make a whole hog in one of those every year.

        • JCBBQ
          JCBBQ commented
          Editing a comment
          As for the ribs, well the meat just pulls right off so we weren't gnawing on any bones w the suckling pig we were picking all the meat right off the bones and eating the skin, which if you do it right the is like chicharron.
      • tbob4
        Charter Member
        • Nov 2014
        • 2505
        • Chico, CA
        • BBQ's
          _____________________
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          Beer
          _______________________
          Sierra Nevada IPA

          Wood
          _______________________
          Almond
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          Madrone
          Cherry
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        #13
        Absolutely awesome! I was tied up yesterday but was in a position to read the post and look at the photos. Thanks a ton for sharing.

        Comment


        • JCBBQ
          JCBBQ commented
          Editing a comment
          My pleasure! I had a lot of fun planning and doing this cook. It tasted so damn good that i'm a little surprised that more people don't cook them.
      • Danjohnston949
        Former Member
        • Dec 2014
        • 4418
        • 1410 9th. St. N, Fargo ND

        #14
        JCBBQ, I thought Only I Got Wild Hairs Like That❓ 🍀👍🍀👍🍀. The Saints Preserve Us You Done DOO'd It! 🍀👍🍀
        👍👍😇👍👍
        Eat Well and Prosper! From a Backyard Cremator in Fargo ND, Dan
        Last edited by Danjohnston949; March 14, 2017, 03:27 PM.

        Comment


        • JCBBQ
          JCBBQ commented
          Editing a comment
          Wow! Look at all those clovers and thumbs up! Thanks man!
      • JCBBQ
        Club Member
        • Jan 2016
        • 1065
        • Jersey City, NJ
        • Primo Oval XL Ceramic Cooker
          Pit Barrel Cooker
          2x Mavrick 732
          Therma Pen Orange
          Favorite Bourbon Blanton's
          SF Giants

          MCS wish list - Lone Star Grillz off set

        #15
        I jus discovered the price of laziness! I just sourced a local place to buy suckling pigs for $6.99/lb. Jeez that's less than half the price if you include shipping that payed. Live and learn baby. Live and learn.

        Comment

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