Suckling Pig (and lamb) in Salamanca

Posted on Sunday, October 25th, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Suckling animals (pig, lamb, goat) are fed exclusively on their mother’s milk and slaughtered before they are one month old.  The resulting meat is famously tender. 

Suckling Pig Suckling Pig

As I traveled the country, I saw suckling pigs in many of the major markets.  I was always intrigued by their impeccably white, perfectly smooth skin.  They looked fake to me, like little wax sculptures of sleeping swine.   Sometimes, they were arranged like mini Madame Tussaud’s showpieces; othertimes, they were just casually piled on top of each other, making them look even more unreal. 

Suckling Pig, Halved Suckling Pig, Halved or Whole, Madrid

Some market vendors slice the pigs in half from snout to tail, perfect for an anatomy lesson, or your smaller dinner.

Casa Paca Cochinillo Asado

While Segovia is famous for its roast suckling pig, Salamanca is the closest I’ll get to Segovia. 

I went to Casa Paca (Plaza del Peso 10), not far from Salamanca’s amazing Plaza Mayor.  A white tablecloth joint with snooty servers, I felt like I had to apologize for taking a table, even though I arrived early to a nearly empty dining room.  (I don’t think I felt that way anywhere else on my trip.) 

Luckily, the roast suckling pig, or cochinillo asado, was delicious.  The thick, oxymoronic skin was hard, yet flexible.  A steak knife was no match it.  Instead, I had to bend the skin and break it off in delicious, glass-like shards.  And then the meat, oh the meat!  It was dense, tender, and juicy, like the plumpest chicken breast.  ”Suckling” sounds so rich, and it was.  The meat tasted intensely of… pork.  It was pure pork goodness.   

Asador Arandino Lechazo Asado

I ordered the suckling lamb at Asador Arandino (Calle Azucena 5).  The server, who didn’t speak English, tried to ask me if I wanted anything else.  Already a splurge, I deliberately skipped a first course.  When it arrived, however, I realized that she’d been trying to ask if I wanted anything else to go with my meat.  The dish, on its own, was one baby lamb leg, nothing else!  I felt like Fred Flinstone, though I used a knife and fork.  It is interesting… while the suckling pig was the porkiest pork imagineable, the meat of the suckling lamb went the opposite taste direction: it was the most subtle, delicate, and luscious lamb.  In the end, I asked for bread to soak up all the juices from the bottom of the dish.  It could not have been a simpler, or more delicious, meal. 

Horno de Lena Horno de Lena

Cochinillo Asado in the Horno de Lena

On my way out of Asador Arandino, the host kindly showed me their horno de lena, a special wood-burning oven used to roast the meat.  He even had one of the cooks come out to pose for a picture!

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