How to Cook a Whole Pig in the Oven

Baked Iberian pig

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Whole roasted pigs have been a staple at fancy dinners and holiday tables since Colonial times. Roasted pigs have traditionally been cooked on a spit over an open fire. But for most people today, cooking over an open fire isn’t practical. Fortunately, a whole suckling pig can be easy cooked at home in your traditional oven in just a few hours. A perfect meal for a special occasion, cooking a roast pig at home is easy and makes a big statement.

Prepare the pig for marinating. Have your butcher thoroughly clean the pig and remove its innards and eyeballs. Using a sharp knife, make several large cuts into the pig’s skin so the skin doesn’t expand and tear while the pig is cooking.

Place the pig in an extra large zip-lock bag with 1/3 cup of vinegar and enough water to cover the pig. Seal the bag and put the pig in the refrigerator overnight, or at least eight hours. The vinegar will clean and whiten the meat.

Take the pig out of the vinegar marinade in the refrigerator and dry the pig well with paper towels. Place a piece of balled-up aluminum foil into the pig’s mouth and each of the eye sockets. Allow the pig to rest in the roasting pan until its room temperature.

Warm the oil in a saucepan and cook the carrots, onions and celery over medium heat for six minutes. Add the salt and thyme and continue cooking for another four minutes until the vegetables are slightly translucent.

Fill the cavity of the pig with the vegetable stuffing. Using a large upholstery needle and twine, sew the skin on the pig’s stomach shut so that the stuffing doesn’t fall out. Tie the hind legs together and place them under the pig.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and arrange the pig in the roasting pan. Coat the pig completely in olive oil and cover the tail and ears with aluminum foil so they don't burn while the pig is cooking. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Place the pig in the oven and roast for 20 minutes per pound. Baste the pig with olive oil or the marinade of your choice every 30 to 45 minutes. Before removing the pig from the oven, test its internal temperature. A fully cooked pig should be 160 degrees.

Remove the pig from the oven and let it cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.