Javier is a Basque born, trained chef and hospitality professional, owner of Basco Fine Foods, a Spanish food and drink importer based in Yorkshire. He regularly runs client food and drink events around the country and he is a course tutor at Hartingtons of Bakewell cookery school. Javier’s passion lies on bringing quality Spanish ingredients and recipes to as many people as possible.
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Authentic Spanish suckling pig is a traditional dish cooked in Spain since medieval times. They say that the best Spanish suckling pigs come from the area of Segovia. Since 2002, a quality control label was developed between farmers, wholesalers, abattoirs, hospitality businesses and institutions from the area of Segovia in order to ensure that all suckling pigs follow a strict control process from birth to sacrifice, providing a seal of guarantee to the consumer of the authenticity of the product. This regulatory body certifies with the stamp of ‘Cochinillo de Segovia’ that suckling pigs have only gone through breast-feeding for a maximum of 21days which gives their meat its great flavour and delightful taste. The quantity of food eaten by this tiny animal is very small, that’s why he’s got the nickname of cochinillo (small suckling pig). The ideal weight is between 4.4 and 5.8kg but the most recommended are the smaller ones. The quality stamp also provides information on the date of sacrifice for each suckling pig and their identification code. The quality stamp should always be found wrapped round the leg of each suckling pig. When cooking whole suckling pig, the main two ingredients are salt and water. The pig should be brought out of the fridge at least 4 hours before cooking to ensure it reaches room temperature. The addition of water to the roasting process provides steam to the meat to ensure all the moisture is kept. However, the cooking process is to roast the suckling pig, so the meat should never be in contact with the water or it will boil it. The use of some wooden slats on the bottom of the roasting tin will keep the suckling pig away from direct contact with the water. Roasted suckling pig is traditionally served in Spain whole at the table with a salad of iceberg lettuce and spring onion dressed with cider vinegar and extra virgin olive oil and of course a bottle of good quality wine. A young fruity red or a white wine will go really well but I prefer a chilled bottle of cava. The bubbles and acidity of the cava will cut really well through the suckling pig’s milky flavour.