Suckling pig is a pig that can be roasted and eaten. Now, when I say a pig I don't mean ham or pork or bacon. What I mean is a whole pig. It is often seen in cartoons or movies involving banquets being eaten by medieval persons. It's the pig at the centre of the table with the shiny red apple in its mouth.
The suckling pig is prepared by cutting a dead pig down the front, and removing all the organs (e.g. heart, liver, intestines and spleen). Sausage meat can then be used to fill up the cavity left in the pig from whence the organs were removed.
The name "suckling pig" comes from the fact that the pig is young and thus was still suckling on its mother's teat when it was slaughtered. In case the name still doesn't make much sense to you, it is also sometimes called "sucking pig". Now doesn't that sound much more appetizing?
In case you have the urge and the courage to try it yourself, here's a recipe from the Complete Book Of Meat Cookery In Color published in 1971. Page 28 of the book shows a proud chef standing behind his monstrous four foot long roasted suckling pig. It is interesting to note that the chef bears an uncanny resemblance to his creation, strengthening the idea "you are what you eat". This recipe is on page 33:
ROAST SUCKING PIG
1 x 18 lb. sucking pig
1 small red apple
6 lb. pork sausage meat
1 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
3 cups soft breadcrumbs
Wipe moisture from inside of sucking pig. Place stuffing in cavity and sew up securely with white string. Place a piece of wood or a meat skewer into the pig's mouth to keep it open. Rub surface with oil, then salt and rub again with oil. Place sucking pig in a large roasting pan and bake in a moderate oven for 4 hours or until pig is cooked. The skin may be scored in a decorative pattern, if desired, before roasting. To serve, remove wood from pig's mouth and replace with a polished red apple. Serve hot or cold. To make stuffing, mix all ingredients together.
TIME 4 hours
TEMPERATURE 325-350 °F
It actually sounds rather easy, if not somewhat disturbing. There are hazards, of course, that my aunt B discovered. (Name truncated to protect the innocent).
My aunt B is quite inventive when it comes to food. Her culinary experiments are usually very tasty, and turn out quite well. So, if anyone could tackle Roast Suckling Pig, it was her. She invited her family over for a feast, and procured a suckling pig to prepare. The pig was a rather young one, but there still turned out to be a lot of hog to cook. So much that when my aunt tried to put the poor fella in the oven, Murphy's Law prevailed: The pig would not fit.
After careful consideration, a plan was made to bisect the pig down the middle. The plan was enacted and the two demi-pigs were put in the oven on separate trays.
Murphy's law was not beaten yet, as now the pig was taking too long to cook. The guests were getting hungry and the meal was nowhere near ready. So the oven temperature was increased. This was all fine and dandy until the living room adjacent to the kitchen began to fill with a peculiar smoke tinged with the scent of burning pork fat. Thus, the temperature was decreased.
Eventually, the pig was cooked. Putting the pig back together proved difficult, as the situation was not at all like a magician sawing a woman in half. My aunt simply decided to cut the pig into slices, and the suckling pig was reduced to tasty but unimaginative pork.
Of course, this all happened before I was born, but the story has become a legend in my family, and is repeated every time we go to my aunt B's house.