Suckling Pig, roast (Cochinillo Segoviano al horno)

Suckling pig, roast lamb or roast goat are typical Castilian roasts, combining a crispy skin with a juicy meat that will delight any guest. As in Segovia and Avila, this is one of the most famous dishes in all major celebrations and, as such, I will propose this recipe as an excellent choice for Christmas or New Year’s lunch.

Tradition dictates that water and salt are the only companions of the Segovian suckling pig, but we have to take into account that they use huge vaulted ovens, fed indirectly with oak wood and this makes all the difference. Using the method below, you should be able to achieve the same results.

Prepare the meat the day before to enhance the flavour. Chill, covered, overnight.

1 Suckling Pig, 4.5kg-5.5kgs (Marca de Garantía de Segovia)
1.5 glasses water
200g lard (manteca de cerdo ibérico)
4 cloves garlic (dientes de ajo)
Sea Salt (around 1tsp)
3 bay leaves (hojas de laurel)
1tsp each thyme and oregano (tomillo y orégano)

Prepare the meat the day before to enhance the flavour. Chill, covered, overnight.
Wash the suckling pig and dry thoroughly. Peel the garlic and chop into very small pieces. Mix with the lard, sea salt, thyme and oregano. You could also crush the garlic to a paste, making it easier to spread. Grease the suckling pig with the prepared lard mixture. Cover and chill overnight. Remove from the fridge first thing in the morning to allow the meat to come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven at 150ºC (fan + top and bottom elements) for an hour. Add the water and bay leaves to the roasting tin, without wetting the skin (which should be face up). Prick all the skin with a needle, fork or tip of a knife. This is very important, allowing air bags to be formed and the skin to become crispy.

Place the roasting tin in the centre of the oven, basting with the water/fat mixture as needed and turning the meat over after the first 40-50mins. Around 15-20mins before the end of cooking time (1.5-2hrs), turn the heat up to 190ºC and turn the meat skin side up again to crisp off. If you find that the liquid evaporates, just add a little more water.