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The best way to carve a suckling pig?

Hey all!

I was wondering, does anyone here knew how to carve a suckling pig? I'm planning on cooking one up later this year (around Christmas) but I have no idea how to break the beast down. Is there a particular way pig, especially a young, small pig, should be carved?

If any more information helps, I plant on oven roasting it, not spit roasting.

Thanks in advance for any responses!

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  1. The only way I've ever seen a whole roast pig broken down is with tongs and/or chopsticks, but those have been very informal settings.

    1. Just crack the skin and tear 'em up!

      1. That is definitely on my "Foodie Bucket List"! I've read lots on the subject and mrbigshotno.1 is right. I think the whole pig pretty much falls apart anyway.

        1. There's no specific rules for carving suckling pig. Some people lay the suckling pig flat and carve rectangles out of the body. At home, we just have a knife out so you can carve out whatever piece you want (I'm a cheeks and ribs man myself).

          The small, very young suckling pigs (cochinillo or lechon de leche) should be so tender that you can cut it with the side of a platter. But even a larger suckling pig will be tender enough that you can use a chef's knife or a cleaver to make clean cuts in the skin (to prevent it from shattering into small pieces) and a spoon to do the rest of the work.

          1 Reply
          1. re: JungMann

            It's a mighty generous cook who does not take the cheeks for the Cook's Own Treat.

          2. I bet an older version of the Joy of Cooking would have detailed instructions. Mine, from the 70s, shows how to butcher a squirrel.

            3 Replies
            1. re: 512window

              Serve it with an apple in the mouth....

              1. re: Karl S

                OK - I'm now home with my Joy.

                First off, you're supposed to "Dress, by drawing, scraping as for Opossum...and cleaning as for Rabbit."

                At the end of the cooking instructions she says:
                "To carve, place head to left of carver. Remove forelegs and hams. Divide meat down center of back. Separate the ribs. Serve a section of crackling skin to each person."

                I last had it at El Botin in Madrid (supposed to be the oldest restaurant in the world) - it definitely was carved not just hacked into big chunks.

                1. re: 512window

                  But ... but ... before carving .. don't forget the apple ...

            2. Whenever I've eaten suckling pig in Mallorca, it's always just been hacked into big chunks.

              1. the meat will be falling apart tender. it's not like carving a bird or big hunk o' beef.

                1. The shoulders are more complex than the hams, and will require more trimming of silverskin around more muscle groups. If it is well cooked, your biggest risk is letting good meat go away with the waste. Take all the time you need.

                  1. In my experience with Spanish-style approaches, it's hacked up roughly with a cleaver. Here's a Chinese version:

                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xc7dwz...

                    I think it's just a matter of breaking it down into chunks of a size that individuals can manage. It's not a finer art like some people make of carving a turkey.

                    Often, after it's hacked apart, it's reassembled for presentation on a big platter at the table, if it's not actually hacked apart at the table.

                    1. The little suckling pigs that we eat in Spain (which are truly tiny) are cut into quarters with the edge of a plate, then served up:

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eeejx9...

                      After that point, the meat just falls apart, especially if you remove the crispy bits of skin.