Making a Pig’s Ear of it

Having had Christmas Day off cooking duties dining out with friends, I was back on duty on Boxing Day, not that the Spanish recognize Boxing Day. It was time for us to deal with our medio cochinillo [half suckling pig], which is something we’d both been looking forward to attacking.

Piglet before 600As a result of some serious forward planning, even though distracted by battering winds, we had thought to remove piglet from the freezer on Christmas night. Since there seemed to be no suitable roasting tray, we had even bought him/her a special cheap one from the local Chinese bazaar. The tray didn’t feel as though it would last long but at €4, it didn’t have to. Piglet fitted it perfectly. The observant may notice a few flecks on Piglet’s skin. That’s because, inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s TV program on Majorca featuring a whole suckling pig, I drench him in a marinade made of lemon juice, oregano and brandy.

Bottom line: this was not a great success.

Piglet after 600Thursday evening’s being a weekly meeting to sup a few beers at Casa Aleluya in Jalón, I left Piglet in a lowish (125°C) fan oven for two hours, then returned and gave it another 45 minutes at 200°C. That formula chez moi produces a meltingly tender full shoulder of lamb and Piglet was an altogether skinnier beast and should, I’d have thought, been falling off the bone. Piglet certainly looked the part but was it falling off the bone? No. Was all the skin crispy? No.

As advertised, our previous adventure in Spain with a medio cochinillo was a great success, though I can’t remember the formula. However, I’m confident this would have worked well at home so I can really only put this disappointing result down to radical differences between the two oven thermostats, both being electric fan ovens. Neither am I convinced that a wet marinade over the skin helped it crisp – I wish I’d left it off and dry roasted Piglet.

Oh well, live and learn.

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Posted in 2013 Spanish Xmas
One comment on “Making a Pig’s Ear of it
  1. rosemary blasdale says:


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