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Roast Suckling Pig

Food for the holidays

En español | This dish is a great favorite in Cuba, especially for Christmas Eve dinner. In the past it was customary to roast the baby pig on a spit, over a wood fire, with plenty of guava leaves. Today, however, many suckling pigs are cooked in the oven.

Serves: 10 to 12


  • 10-12pound oven-ready suckling pig
  • Salt
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mixed herbs (parsley,
  • thyme, bay leaves, etc)
  • Pepper
  • ½teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼cup olive oil or melted butter
  • Juice of 1 sour orange or lime


1. Wash the cleaned and prepared pig in cold water and wipe dry. Place pig on a rack in a large, shallow roasting pan. Sprinkle inside and outside with salt. Fill the cavity with chopped onion and close the opening with skewers or kitchen string. Draw the legs back and tie with string. Place a ball of crumpled aluminum foil in the mouth to keep it open during cooking.

2. Combine crushed garlic, mixed herbs, pepper, and ground cloves. Rub the outside of the pig with this mixture. Brush the pig with oil or melted butter, and pour the sour orange or lime juice over it. Cover pig loosely with aluminum foil and roast in a 325-degree oven for 3 hours, basting with pan juices every hour. Remove foil and cook for 30 minutes longer or until skin is very crisp, basting frequently. To test for doneness, prick the thigh with a fork, or the top of a small knife. The juices will run clear if the pig is done. Cook longer if necessary.

3. Transfer the pig to a heated platter. Remove the foil from the mouth and replace with an orange, apple, or baked potato. Allow pig to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

Courtesy of Old Havana Cookbook/Hippocrene Books, Inc.

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