Filipino-style suckling pig

Filipino-style suckling pig

Lechon baboy

My Feast
Chris Chen

Spit-roasted suckling pig is always a crowd favourite at a party, but it is hard to perfect. A spit-roaster can be easily obtained from a barbecue-hire service, available in most areas. They can supply you with all the utensils you’ll need, as well as the coals. Most butchers will happily arrange a suckling pig but it’s best to give them notice. Always insist on a fresh young pig. I recommend stuffing the pig with onions, apples, carrots, garlic and parsley but the Filipinos fill the cavity only with lemongrass.


Quantity Ingredient
1 x 8kg suckling pig
garlic, crushed
coarse salt and ground black pepper
vegetables, such as onion, carrot, apples garlic and parsley, roughly chopped, to fill the cavity
750ml salt-reduced soy sauce
750ml olive oil


  1. First, light the barbecue coals. The coals are not ready to use until they have turned white (no flame should be present when cooking). This will take 1–2 hours.
  2. With a sharp knife, remove the tail and ears of the pig. Turn the pig over and remove the kidneys and any loose fat.
  3. Rub the surface of the pig with some of the garlic, massaging well. This will add flavour as well as moistening the skin. Once thoroughly rubbed in, place the remaining garlic inside the cavity of the pig.
  4. Apply a liberal amount of salt to the skin and massage well. The salt is crucial to dry the skin and create perfect crackling. Apply a liberal amount of pepper to the skin. Liberally season the cavity too.
  5. To ensure an even roast, completely fill the cavity with the vegetables, then stitch the cavity with the heavy wire to seal tightly.
  6. Massage the soy sauce into the skin. This will help create a golden brown colour.
  7. To mount the pig on the spit, place, belly down, on a work surface or table and insert the spit-mounting from the rear of the pig. Ensure you have read the instructions that come with your spit. It is vital that the pig does not spin in the rotisserie — check it prior to loading onto the spit.
  8. Using the shovel, move the bulk of the coals to the edges, underneath the legs and shoulders, with only a small amount of coals under the mid-section. The legs and shoulders are the thickest areas and require the most heat. As the pig cooks, ensure the colour remains even. If any patches are lighter in colour, move more coals under that area. If an area is darkening too quickly, move the coals away. Occasionally baste with oil to improve the crackling. In the late stages of roasting, the vegetables in the cavity of the pig will soften and release their juices. It’s a good idea to wipe the juices away to maintain an even finish on the skin.
  9. When the knuckles of the pig start to become exposed, it’s a sign that the pig is nearly done. It’s a good idea to stop the rotisserie motor and insert a small knife into the thickest part of the pig — the leg is ideal. Leave the knife in for 30 seconds, then remove it and check that the tip of the knife is hot. Alternatively, insert a meat thermometer into the leg and if it registers 70°C, it is done. An 8 kg pig will require about 1 1/2–2 hours roasting time.
  10. When the pig is done, it’s important to move it to the place you wish to serve it prior to removing the spit-mounting from it, as there will be little connective tissue holding it together and the pig may fall apart if it’s moved after the bar is removed. Turn the rotisserie off and then use tea towels or oven mitts to handle the spit-mounting. You will need two people to move the pig. Once the pig is in its final position, carefully remove the spit-mounting, carve and serve.
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