Skinnin’ a pig? Puerto Rican brilliance!

Hey all,

Just got this email from Scott…

“Thanks for taking the time to read this! I have a quick question: We are roasting a 70 lb pig in a La Caja China Roaster.

My partners mother-in-law is Cuban and tells us that there is an old Puerto Rican recipe that calls for REMOVING the skin from the pig prior to roasting, then seasoning the meat, and placing the pig back “into” the now separate skin, then roasting as usual.

Now I am not a fan of this, but I figured I would ask if this is something you would suggest? I mean, might it dry out the meat?

Thanks – Scott”

Scott – I’ve never done this myself, but I was able to find several references to it, and, if you’re willing to do the work, I think it’s a brilliant idea! The melting fat from the underside of the skin is going to marinate the meat below just as well, but with the addition of  your dry-rub or mojo, adding a lot more flavor.

The possibilities of what flavoring agents your could incorporate between the skin and the flesh are almost endless…pepper bacon, onions, garlic, sliced fruit (apples, pineapples, oranges?)…the list goes on!

A Cuban roasting box, with a Puerto Rican prep technique…that’s fusion at it’s best, baby!

My only concern would be that the skin would pull away from the meat, as it shrinks during cooking, but this is an easy fix. You could tie it at the four leg joints, or even (if you’re REALLY dedicated) sew the skin back down, after rubbing the meat. Maybe leave the skin attached along one side, and just peel in back, as in the video below?

Here’s how they do it with pork shoulders, shouldn’t be hard to translate to a whole pig. Another possible benefit…that crispy “lechon” skin that people go wild for…I’d bet that by creating a separating space between the fat and the meat, that you’ll get a better “melt” on that fat, which will result in a more even crisping of the skin for those coveted chicharrónes.

Seriously, this is how I’m going to do my next pig!

Thanks for the heads-up, Scott!


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