Happy 2015, everyone! I know, Christmas is over. Wrapping paper and boxes have been left by the curb and the tree has been stored for next year. But in the world of the Cultivated Cupboard, it’s still Christmas. Those of you who read my last blog post may remember I promised a follow-up post with my first favorite Cummins Christmas food tradition. Well, I’m a little late, but here it goes. WARNING: This post is not for the faint of heart or squeamish!
Each year on Christmas day, my family roasts a whole suckling pig. For as long as I can remember, and well before that, Christmas day has revolved around the pig. Hours of preparation and cooking all resulting in the juicy, tender pork. Now, I won’t post a real recipe today as I know most of you will not be running out and purchasing a whole pig from your local butcher, but if you’d like further details, comment here and I’d be happy to provide answers to any questions!
The roasting of the pig actually begins on Christmas eve when my Grandpa butterflies the pig and my mom and grandma coat the inside in a generous layer of chimichurri, an Argentine sauce used for grilled meats consisting of spices and oil. That vanilla description definitely does not do it justice. This flavorful sauce is a staple in the Cummins household that can be used to spice up everything from roasted pork loins to chargrilled steaks to roasted vegetables. Don’t worry, I’ll post a recipe for this soon. (This is the part where any squeamish readers should probably check out).
Once prepared, the pig rests in the fridge for 24 hours or so, absorbing the rich flavors of the chimicurri. In past years, we have always cooked the pig on the grill for several hours over low heat. But this year, my dad purchased La Caja China, a kind of outdoor oven box. For this method of cooking, the pig is placed inside a metal box under a screen covered with hot coals.
We were all a bit nervous to step outside of our comfort zone with our traditional Christmas dinner, but the results were fantastic. The meat was incredibly tender and flavorful and my grandpa and dad could actually spend the day with the family, rather than standing by the grill watching the pig. But the best part of using La Caja China was the skin. Crispy and flavorful, it was well worth the nutritional implications.
After about two and a half hours of roasting, my grandpa carved the pig and we all sat down to a memorable meal of pork, roasted potatoes, pea salad, and grilled vegetables. Oh, and of course, several bottles of fantastic wine. We don’t have a ton of family Christmas traditions, but I wouldn’t want to spend my Christmas any other way.