Suckling pig ballotine with chestnut stuffing

Sunday, March 18, 2012

"Lastly my brother has a small farm of pigs, and would like to provide a suckling pig to be cooked for Saturday night, can we provide this?" said the email. You know me - how could I say no?
This little piggy didn't go to market
This was for a significant birthday for the host's mother and family - all 3 generations at Pedington Manor (quickly becoming my new favourite house) near Stone, Gloucestershire.

After preparing so many duck and chicken ballottines over the years, removing the bones from a suckling pig is no different really - slightly larger, but not enormously so. Big enough that you have to saw through the neck though (tmi?). 
After also deboning the trotters I roasted all the bones to make the accompanying sauce with some stock left for the following day for their Sunday lunch which we also served. 
Then the meat from the legs & shoulders & belly I combined with sausagemeat, chestnuts, sage, onion, mixed spice, five spice and orange zest to stuff it. Then rolled up and scored the skin with a stanley knife to get the crackling going, before tying with string.
Then just singe a few hairs with the blow torch. I rest it on a potato trivet to stop it sticking to the bottom of the roasting tin - and this keeps the pig away from the fat. Also makes the most amazing potatoes in the process.
Wilbur is off to the venue! The resting time makes for much more succulent meat.  
A slice of the resulting suckling pig ballottine. We served it plated as a  main course with dauphinoise potato, red wine braised cabbage and chantenay carrots. 
Platter of seconds. In the end we decided not to serve the head on there as well - might be a bit off putting on the middle of the table, so we left it for them to have later.

So what was the verdict of the family? "Perfect!" said the guest who had supplied the suckling pig. Their mother whose birthday it was was intrigued when she walked through the kitchen, how to de-bone it, as she was wanted to try it too. Maybe I'll have to give lessons.......

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