Roasting a suckling pig on an open fire “is no job for slackers,” said Jane Sigal in Food & Wine. But if you have the time, motivation, and financial wherewithal, the result is “totally worth it.” Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and his wife, Marja, recently purchased a weekend house in New York’s Westchester County. They celebrated the occasion by inviting new neighbors and old friends to an early summer pig roast. Serve this recipe with chipotle-citrus barbecue sauce.
Recipes of the week
Roast Suckling Pig
Although you will likely use 20 pounds of coals, it’s a good idea to keep up to 60 pounds on hand. A variety of spits is available at Spitjack.com.
1 20-lb suckling pig
10 garlic cloves, crushed
5 rosemary sprigs
5 thyme sprigs
Fleur de sel or sea salt
On nonflammable surface, such as brick, cement, or gravel, build 6-by-2-foot hardwood log or charcoal fire. Rig pig onto spit, with spit fork fitted to grip rear haunches. Using heavy-duty trussing needle
and twine, tie pig to spit behind head and close to tail. Stuff belly with garlic, rosemary, and thyme. Using small trussing needle and twine, sew belly shut. Brush pig with olive oil.
Mount spit on its tripods so that spit stands 1 foot off ground, just to side of long edge of fire. Lay 2 disposable aluminum roasting pans or 2 sheets of heavy-duty foil under pig to catch drippings. Turn on spit. Set oven thermometer on upturned cinder block, close to pig. Ambient temperature should stay between 225 and 250 degrees. Add layer of fresh coals every 30 minutes, as needed. Roast pig for about 2 hours, or until meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of shoulder and rear haunch registers 145 degrees.
Remove spit from heat and let pig rest for 30 minutes. Transfer pig to large work surface lined with heavy-duty foil. Untie pig from spit. Discard twine, peel off skin, carve meat, sprinkle with fleur de sel or sea salt, and serve.
Chipotle-Citrus Barbecue Sauce
1 ancho chili, stemmed and seeded
1 dried chipotle chili, stemmed and seeded
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
10 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup fresh orange juice
¾ cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup Asian fish sauce
Heat small skillet. Add ancho and chipotle chilies; toast over moderate heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to work surface; let cool completely, about 10 minutes. Crumble toasted chilies into ¼-inch pieces.
Meanwhile, in medium saucepan, combine sugar with water; bring to simmer over moderately high heat. Reduce heat to moderate and cook until a richly browned caramel forms, about 16 minutes. Add crumbled chilies and garlic, simmer until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Carefully stir in lemon, orange, lime juices; boil over high heat until reduced to syrupy glaze, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in fish sauce; let cool to room temperature before serving.