A few weeks ago, my next door neighbour Chris yelled over the fence wall and said, “Hey Maureen, interested in blogging about roasting a suckling pig in the pizza oven for Australia Day?” I couldn’t say yes fast enough.
The first Christmas we were in this neighbourhood, Fran and Chris had all their family visiting and they cooked a pig in their pizza oven outdoors. I smelled that pig from morning until mid afternoon. It was the most wonderful aroma and I’m sure I wasn’t the only person along the canal who wanted to call in for a cup of sugar. I didn’t – I held back only because we were new here.
Chris hasn’t been well for the past few months and after a cancer diagnosis and surgery and all the other things that they do to insult your body when you get this nasty disease – he got the all-clear from his doctors just before he asked me if I wanted to blog the piglet. They have a bbq nearly every Australia Day, the 26th of January and they are the best fun.
We all get to catch up with our neighbours both beside us and across the canal. Honestly, we’re physically pretty close to one another and there’s not a lot of privacy unless you close the blinds. Nobody closes the blinds because then you can’t see what’s going on out on the canal.
Chris told me he had contacted Cotton Tree Meats about sourcing a suckling pig and that he was picking up the pig on Saturday morning. When I went next door to take a photograph of piggy, Chris said he couldn’t have gone anywhere and gotten the service he received from Cotton Tree Meats.
“Maureen, the young fella who waited on me was superb. He got the pig, talked about cooking it and even offered to take it to my car. The pig came wrapped in muslin, ready to pop in the cooler overnight,” said Chris.
The fire was started in the pizza oven early in the morning and when I arrived about 10am, it was nearly ready for the pig. While the oven was hot, they cooked a beautiful pork belly – just in case they ran out of meat. (as if!)
At about 11am it was time to put the pig in the oven. He was too big for one pan so piggy went into the oven head first and his feet dangled in another pan.
Folks started arriving around noon and it wasn’t long before everyone had a drink and was busy catching up with friends and neighbours. I had the best time. Ros and Bryan live across the street and she is one of the most entertaining women I’ve met. This is how Ros arrived for the bbq.
And this is a quiet moment I intruded upon.
Every little while, the pig was turned so he would roast evenly and in less than 2 1/2 hours, it was time to eat.
When I said I was only next door, I wasn’t kidding. In this one I noticed I could see my office door.
While we were waiting for the main event, we had lots to drink and some of these Aussie sausages or prunes wrapped in bacon and cooked on the BBQ. There weren’t many of the prune left because maybe I ate too many.
Not everyone is old-ish, there’s Elle from My Kitchen Rules fame. She and her brother now run Chitty Banh Banh at Brisbane’s trendy Eat Street Markets at Hamilton Wharf every Friday and Saturday.
Then it was time for the main event! Out came the pig and Chris was very happy!
Along with the pork there was a lovely Mediterranean salad that I couldn’t get close enough to photograph because so many people were digging in and there was a tossed salad with chopped raw beetroot and feta and a roasted vegetable and pasta salad.
I didn’t know Albert but he deftly carved the pig for all of us to enjoy. Albert’s a retired doctor so it was right and fitting that he use his knife skills.
Then it was nearly time to serve. I’ll confess that I went around the table and stuck my fingers in and pulled off a piece of the most succulent pork I’ve ever tasted.
There were onlookers waiting to be fed. I might be married to one.
Once we had stuffed ourselves it was time for dessert. This is Dee who lives several houses up the street from us.
Dee made this really cute AND delicious koala cake.
We also had this beautiful pavlova made by Jan who lives next door to John and I (on the other side). She and her husband David are a joy to be around.
Jan and Ros – two really nice people that I’m privileged to know.
If you’re Australian, you’d know what it’s like to roll a Jaffa down the floor of a movie theatre but these men looked at this dessert table and saw the bowl of Jaffas and then…
Yes, you guessed it, they rolled the Jaffas down the bridge to the pontoon to see if they could get the Jaffa into the water. Think they’d let me get in to photograph it? Absolutely not – it was a championship!
It was a wonderfully relaxed way to celebrate Australia Day 2014. I’m ready for another suckling pig any day! Whatever national holiday you celebrate (I celebrate both the 4th of July and Australia Day) give a suckling pig a try. You can roast one in the oven too.
- 1 suckling pig - well scored by the butcher (or do it yourself with a very sharp knife)
- Carrots (you could also add baby fennel and/or celery - whatever you like)
- Fresh Rosemary sprigs
- Lemon juice
- Bring oven temperature to about 145°C / 300°F
- Salt cavity well and add onions, carrots and rosemary. Close the opening by sewing the skin if you can.
- Cover the snout, ears and tail with foil to prevent burning.
- Place in a large baking sheet with the pig's back on top - this gets the best crackling
- Roast until the pig is cooked to at least 71°C / 160°F and remove from oven and cover.
- Crank up the oven to 260°C / 500°F and slide the pig back into the oven until the skin is blistered and crackled. It should take no more than 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and rest the pork for about 30 minutes before carving (if you can stand the wait)