Sucking Pigs

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

sucking pigs as the name implies, are young pigs fed only on their mothers’ milk. They are killed at ages from two to six weeks old (best at three to four weeks), and are often roasted whole. The meat, as with all young animals, is pale, tender, and on the gelatinous side. The true delicacy is the skin, which, correctly roasted, becomes wonderfully good crackling. Seasonings are added according to local tastes, but are generally kept to a minimum, for it is the textures that are important in this dish. The body cavity of the pig is sometimes stuffed, or the offal made into a stew to accompany it. Sucking pigs are items for special occasions, and have been or are served at feasts in many parts of the world. In modern Europe, its strongest admirers are the Portuguese and Spanish; it is almost an obsession in the Coimbra area of Portugal, and a speciality of Segovia in Spain (well described in van Hensbergen, 1992).