Suckling Pigs are a BBQ delicacy that everyone needs to try at least once in your lifetime. The meat is unbelievably tender and rich in flavor. As it slowly cooks in a smoke sauna the exterior skin turns crispy and the fat meltings away leaving juicy, delicious pork that is sure to set a smile on your face!
They arrive frozen, wrap in plastic, and require 3-4 days to slow thaw in the refrigerator. Once thawed, they require a little trimming before they’re ready for the cavity. Place each pig on its back and use a knife to cut through the breastbone. Press down on each side of the rib cage to open the cavity. Remove the kidneys or any organs left from processing and trim away any silver scalp or excess fat.
To flavor these animals I take a 2-step approach. First a layer of dry spices – you can use anything you like here- I’m going with a base coat of my AP Rub( salt, pepper, garlic) for a savory flavor than my The BBQ Rub for traditionally bred bbq notes.
The Second step is an injection to get some flavor deep into the meat. If you have a favorite injection, by all means, use it. You can really play with the flavors and go any direction you want here. I mixed 1 beaker of Victory Lane pork injection with 64 oz Apple juice. Make the loins, hams, and shoulders with the injection; the BDI injector attains quick run of this.
Now it’s time to fire up the smoker. I’m employing my Ole Hickory Ace MM for this chore but you can use any cavity that has a rack big enough to hold one. You’ll need at the least 18″ x24″ cooking surface for a suckling swine. Get the flame going employing Royal Oak briquettes with a few chunks of Hickory and Cherry Wood for smoking flavor. I’m shooting for a cook temp of 225 -2 50 degrees for these pigs.
Before placing the pigs on the pit, wipe the scalp dry with a clean towel. This will help it crisp during the course of its cook process also protect the ears and nose with a little aluminum foil. Place the animals on the cooking grate and make sure the legs are pointed forward, the back is straight, and the sides are tucked. ( The way you place it on the rack is the way it will cook ).
Close the smoker and let it roll for at least 2.5 hrs. At this point, the scalp should be firm and you can apply a little cooking spray to keep it from getting too dark. ( you’ll wish to reapply the cooking spraying a couple times during the cook)
Hold the temps in the 225 -2 50 range and monitor the internal temps employing a wired probe thermometer( Thermoworks Dot) inserted into the thickest part of the shoulder. The target temperature is 190 -1 95 in the shoulders; it’ll take about 7 hours to get there.
When the pigs are done, carefully transfer them to a full sizing sheet pan or large cutting board to remain for 30 minutes before serving. I use a little fresh kale around the outside for garnish; this is completely optional but it does make the presentation appear fancy.
To serve: utilize a sharp knife and make an incision down the length of the backbone, turning and continue to cut down at the shoulder and ham simply through the skin. This allows the skin to peel altogether off on the side exposing all the juicy goodness beneath.
Wear some hot resistant gloves and get to picking ‘! You can serve the meat right from the cutting board or place it on a platter of your option. However, you decide to serve; folks are usually mobbed around and ready to dive in. Suckling Pig is some penalty feeing pulled pork; drizzled with a little spicy vinegar sauce and you’re good to go!