To Roast a Sucking Pig

1ΒΌ to 1ΒΎ hour.


After the pig has been scalded and prepared for the spit, wipe it as dry as possible, and put into the body about half a pint of fine bread-crumbs, mixed with three heaped teaspoonsful of sage, minced very small, three ounces of good butter, a large salt-spoonful of salt, and two-thirds as much of pepper or some cayenne. Sew it up with soft, but strong cotton; truss it as a hare, with the fore legs skewered back, and the hind ones forward; lay it to a strong clear fire, but keep it at a moderate distance, as it would quickly blister or scorch if placed too near. So soon as it has become warm, rub it with a bit of butter tied in a fold of muslin or of thin cloth, and repeat this process constantly while it is roasting. When the gravy begins to drop from it, put basins or small deep tureens under, to catch it in.* As soon as the pig is of a fine light amber brown and the steam draws strongly towards the fire, wipe it quite dry with a clean cloth, and rub a bit of cold butter over it. When it is half done, a pig iron, or in lieu of this, a large flat iron should be hung in the centre of the grate, or the middle of the pig will be done long before the ends. When it is ready for table lay it into a very hot dish, and before the spit is withdrawn, take off and open the head and split the body in two; chop together quickly the stuffing and the brains, put them into half a pint of good veal gravy ready thickened, add a glass of Madeira or of sherry, and the gravy which has dropped from the pig; pour a small portion of this under the roast and serve the remainder as hot as possible in a tureen: a little pounded mace and cayenne with a squeeze of lemon-juice, may be added, should the flavour require heightening. fine bread sauce, and plain gravy should likewise be served with it. Some persons still prefer the old-fashioned currant sauce to any other: and many have the brains and stuffing stirred into rich melted butter, instead of gravy; but the receipt which we have given has usually been so much approved, that we can recommend it with some confidence, as it stands. Modern taste would perhaps be rather in favour of rich brown gravy and thick tomata sauce, or sauce poivrade.

In dishing the pig lay the body flat in the middle, and the head and ears at the ends and sides. When very pure oil can be obtained, it is preferable to butter for the basting: it should be laid on with a bunch of feathers. A pig of three weeks old is considered as best suited to the table, and it should always be dressed if possible the day it is killed.

* A deep oblong dish of suitable size seems better adapted to this purpose.