Suckling pig

Does anybody have any first hand experience with suckling pig shoulder? Time and temp?

Sorry, I have wanted to try it with the Anova but I have always ended up using my smoker.

I was thinking of cutting it into large steaks then cooking. It would take 24-48 hours at 135°F or 57.2°C for rare; medium 145°F or 62.8°C;
well done 155°F or 68.3°C. I have done pork before and I prefer 145°F. Rare while safe has a texture that takes some getting use to.

You can pull it and brown it like carnitas as well.

Let us know how yours turns out.

I did two pork picnics, deboned and tied in a roll. The first one at 155 for 36 hours and the second at 44 hours. The first had a nice traditional pulled pork texture, but the second was like butter - very rich. However, tried to crisp the skin with the first one to no avail, did not bother with the second. The skin just absorbs too much moisture. 

Neither SV attempt is as good as my convection oven. First 10 to 12 hours normal bake at 250, then 500 degree convection sear for 10 to 20 minutes. You get great pull apart pork under crackling, bubbly, crisp skin. Take a look at Kenji’s technique in Serious Eats. This is an awesome hunk of pork… Injection brining with some broth, spices, and liquid smoke really adds to the flavor.

Right… So I’ve decided to go with 155F / 68C and it’s in now… I’m planning to eat it tonight at which point it will have been in for 24 hrs… Now that’s significantly less than yours chewbaka and I did check out Serious Eats but there’s only one suckling pig recipe (Kenji’s) on there as far as I could see which is an oven cook for 4 1/2 hrs, cooking a whole piglet.

I don’t think I can apply a normal pork time to the suckling pig because the meat is very different. It didn’t have time yet to develop muscle structure and is therefor much softer and it’s of course also much smaller. My shoulder (well… not MINE… but piggy’s shoulder…) weighs in at a mere 1.080Kg (2.38 Lbs). 

I have found both temperatures but especially times to vary wildly on ye olde interweb…For instance in this blog entry about a restaurant in Singapore: [Mr. Pavanello, who came to Otto two years ago and became a part-owner last year, says he’s the first chef to introduce suckling pig — a piglet slaughtered when it is two to six weeks old — to an Italian restaurant’s menu in Singapore. “It’s by far the most popular dish we make,” he says.

The 43-year-old’s suckling pig is inspired by the Italian regions of Emilia-Romagna and Sardinia. He tells Scene Asia how he makes it:

Slow cooking: In Sardinia, suckling pig is usually made by digging a hole and roasting the piglet over burnt wood while bushes and soil cover the hole. In Emilia-Romagna, it’s done by cooking the piglet in an oven. Here, he tries to mix both schools of cooking by placing the pork in a vacuum bag and cooking it slowly for 12 hours in a steam oven at 71°C (160°F). Mr. Pavannello says that this “helps keep the juices even if you cook it for a long period of time."]

Based on all that I have read I’ve decided to begin my experimental cook with the middle road. I will cook it for 24 hrs at 155F / 68C. I´m also not going to bother trying to crisp the skin up when it comes out. It hardly has any skin at all anyway. It’s just a super thin outer layer. 

I will post the result of suckling.pig v.1.0 right here. Good or bad… Although I actually don’t think one CAN ruin a suckling pig…

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Oh and btw… the weight of the shoulder, that’s the whole thing with bone 'n all… 

Really curious about these results! Keep us informed :slight_smile:

The results are in, the jury has reached a verdict… 

So in the end piggy had been bathing for 25 hrs in total at 155F / 68C and the meat was tender, juicy and fragrant. Not fall off the bone but easily pry of the bone… No cutting needed for this. So we did like it… However I do believe that it can be softer, more tender… Like chewbaka said… like butter… thát’s what I want so I think I’ll double the cooking time next time as suggested by chewbaka’s experience, too.

So I suppose in 1 or 2 weeks I’ll repeat (so many wonderful things to eat, so little time… ) and I’ll make sure to report back here, even if only for search-back reasons in case I ever forget myself what I did do…

So onwards and upwards, suckling.pig v. 1.0.1 is in the pipeline… 

Good eating all!

ah… I just need to add one more comment… Yesterday evening we had the leftovers and I decided to pull apart the remaining meat and cook it briefly in the same sauce I served it with the previous day, which is an amazingly good Suriname sauce (I’m Dutch so we grow up with the fantastic tastes of this multi-cultural, former Dutch colony) and it was outer-wordly good! 

So we’re basically talking pulled pork/carnitas preparation, which I like a lot but I can assure that never before in my life I had such melt-in-the-mouth wonderful pulled pork. Possibly the 10 minutes in the sauce brought the meat to a level of doneness similar to chewbaka’s 44 hr cook.

So this one will definetily be repeated as well… 24hr at 68C followed by 10 minutes in the sauce…

to be continued…
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I did pork shoulder steaks at 143 degrees for 36 hours. Was good but not wonderful. the fattiest parts were the tenderest. I had two pieces and the thicker one was better. I did not buy them so could not choose them:)

I have been reading some articles/book excerpts on meat fibre shrinkage and a little confused. meat fibre  shrinkage is severe after 147 degrees, but collagen release is best above 160? I gather that unshrunken meat fibres are juicier and collagen release make the meat silkier.

Anyone with any knowledge/thoughts/theories?

@Helen I think there must be a time component to the breakdown of collagen. I have done short ribs medium rare for 72 and others at 36 hours. The 72 hour ones were definitely more tender. This leads me to think that the breakdown occurs at a lower temperature given enough time. I  think at around 160° F it is more rapid. I may be wrong but something is happening as the short ribs were succulent and moist.

Most of the writing I see is centered around BBQ where the cooking temperature is normally around 225° F and the end product 190°-200° F. While BBQ is considered low and slow I would say sous vide is warm and glacial when you are talking about tough meats. I would bet that the meat cooks differently when held for 72 hours at a low temperature.

Well I find it fascinating and frustrating at the same time. The frustration is I am cooking mainly for one at the experimental stage and can only eat so much meat.

The cook times for sous vide ribs are very different.between recipes.

Living in a condo I cannot have a BBQ or smoker so I have always simmered ribs till they just started to shrink from the bone and then finished them in the oven. My ribs have always been much admired this way. I usually cook extra when entertaining and pack up a few leftovers for guests. The ones I made at 160 degrees were good at dinner, but "not as good as usual" warmed over and I agree. My pork steaks at 143 weren't as tasty but  the taste and texture stayed more or less the same the next day. Not so with the ribs.

I will be cooking ribs soon and will try them at 143 degrees or less for 24 hours I think.

I guess my big problem is correlating time and temperature VS juiciness and flavour. And different cuts/types of meat.

I don't expect my spare ribs to be juicy, just tender and not dry. Pork steaks I expect to be tender and juicy. Have no problems with beef or lamb, except for one top sirloin that was tough as an old boot, and fish is always superb so far. But I am getting a mite annoyed at the pork.

Sorry for going on.

You did hit on one of the problems with pork. In a lot of cuts there is far too much meat. I have a smoker and prefer pork shoulder and ribs cooked on it. I did 3 racks of ribs yesterday and they were the best I have ever done. When the snow comes I am thinking of doing pork shoulder cut into smaller parts of meat and cooking it sous vide. I will freeze most of it and have several pieces to try with. I am going to sous vide a pork tenderloin tonight that has been marinating in Char Siu sauce. I am hoping for the BBQ pork flavor from Chinese restaurants. I cut it in strips to expose more area to the sauce.

It is all about making pork a lean meat. Luckily the trend seems to be reversing itself in Canada at least. Premium pork is advertised as being fattier and juicier:)

I recently made a pork tenderloin in Hoisin sauce sous vide. Was disappointed. marinated 24 hours and cooked sous vide but cannot remember the time. Was not only dry, but the hoisin did not really infuse the meat with flavour.

It was actually quite nice sliced thin in dumpling soup though.  I have made char sui pork and chicken in the oven that would rival the best Chinese meat shop though so I will try again one of these days. Used Amoy char Sui sauce which I cannot buy where I am working for the summer.

Tonight I am doing ribs once again. Cooked 30 hours at 143 degrees and then ice bathed and refrigerated. So I will reheat when my big bucket of water comes to temp and sauce and broil.

I have fairly primitive cooking facilities in the summer as I live in a one room cabin with no running water and furniture mostly built from plastic milk crates, no stove, just a hotplate and a cast off counter convection oven. I have electricity though and a small freezer so I dawdle along fairly well.

Trying to cook and eat/share all my food before I leave town in 12 days.