Suckling Pig are a BBQ delicacy that everyone needs to try at least once in your lifetime. The meat is incredibly tender and rich in flavor. As it slowly cooks in a smoke sauna the exterior skin turns crispy and the fat melts away leaving juicy, delicious pork that is sure to put a smile on your face!
For this recipe I first had to source the pigs. I put a call in to Brad my local butcher (The Butcher’s Block – Southaven, MS) about a week ago and had him order a couple suckling pigs.
These pigs are young – typically 4-6 weeks in age and only weigh between 15-30lbs. At $4.99 per pound, they’re not cheap, but they’re oh so worth it!
They come froze, wrapped in plastic, and need 3-4 days to slow thaw in the refrigerator. Once thawed, they require a little trimming before they’re ready for the pit.
Place each pig on its back and use a knife to cut through the breast bone. 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 skin or excess fat.
To flavor these pigs I take a 2-step approach. First a layer of dry seasonings – you can use anything you like here – I’m going with a base coat of my Killer Hog’s AP Rub (salt, pepper, garlic) for a savory flavor then my Killer Hog’s The BBQ Rub for more traditional 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 cup of Victory Lane Pork Injection with 64oz Apple juice. Hit the loins, hams, and shoulders with the injection; the BDI injector makes quick work of this.
Now it’s time to fire up the smoker. I’m using my Ole Hickory Ace MM for this job but you can use any pit that has a rack big enough to hold one. You’ll need at least 18”x24” cooking surface for a suckling pig.
Get the fire going using Royal Oak briquettes with a few chunks of Hickory and Cherry Wood for smoke flavor. I’m shooting for a cook temp of 225-250 degrees for these pigs.
Before placing the pigs on the pit, wipe the skin dry with a clean towel. This will help it crisp during the cooking process also protect the ears and nose with a little aluminum foil.
Place the pigs 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 skin should be firm and you can apply a little cooking spray to keep it from getting too dark. (you’ll want to reapply the cooking spray a couple times during the cook)
Hold the temps in the 225-250 range and monitor the internal temps using a wired probe thermometer (Thermoworks Dot) inserted into the thickest part of the shoulder. Target temperature is 190-195 in the shoulders; it’ll take about 7 hours to get there.
When the pigs are done, carefully transfer them to a full size sheet pan or large cutting board to rest 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 look fancy.
To serve: use sharp knife and make an incision down the length of the back bone, turn and continue to cut down at the shoulder and ham just through the skin. This allows the skin to peel completely off on the side exposing all the juicy goodness beneath.
Wear some heat resistant gloves and get to pickin’! You can serve the meat right from the cutting board or place it on a platter of your choice.
However you decide to serve; folks are usually crowded around and ready to dive in. Suckling Pig is some fine eating pulled pork; drizzled with a little spicy vinegar sauce and you’re good to go!