Christmas Lechón al Horno (Suckling Piglet Roast) has become a Christmas tradition in Bolivia. Usually shortened to just “Christmas Lechón”, it is prepared in traditional fashion by roasting a suckling pig over an open fire on a rotisserie. Another traditional way to prepare Christmas Lechón is in an outdoor clay oven.
But you can make Christmas Lechón in the oven, too, so no worries if you don’t have the traditional means available. “Lechón” means, in English, “milk”. The reason a suckling pig is used (usually between 2 and 6 weeks old) is because the little pig’s diet of exclusively mother’s milk. This milky diet makes the flesh pale and exceptionally tender. And the roasted skin is very crispy, often used for pork rind snacks.
Christmas Lechón al Horno Recipe-
- 1 suckling piglet (6 or 7 lbs.)
- 2-3 lemons
For the Marinade-
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp. roasted and mashed garlic (about 16 large cloves)
- 2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, minced
- ½ cup fresh parsley, minced
- 1 cup red pepper
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
- Cayenne pepper, to taste
- 1 tbsp. Scorpion Pepper Hot Sauce (or to taste, this sauce is fiery hot!)
- black pepper and salt, to taste
- Clean the piglet thoroughly, then rub both the outside and the inside well with the lemon juice.
- Blend all the marinade ingredients together in a suitably sized mixing bowl, and then rub the pig thoroughly with the mix.
- Your marinade-rubbed piglet must be allowed to rest overnight, in a cool place – refrigerate if you have the room.
- The next day, preheat your oven to 350º Fahrenheit.
- Using a very sharp knife, sever the joints of the shoulders, hands and feet (don’t cut all the way off, just sever the joints) so that shrinkage will be prevented during roasting.
- Put the piglet in a deep, and large enough to hold the whole pig, baking pan, and lay it in on its back.
- Roast for 1-1/2 hours, then turn it over on its stomach, and roast for another 2-1/2 hours, basting the skin now and then with the cooking juices in the bottom of the pan.
- To serve your Christmas Lechón al Horno the traditional way, place the entire roasted piglet on a very large serving platter and set it on the center of the table. Carve off slices as desired for everyone eating. Altervatively, you can carve slices before serving, and arrange the meat on a serving platter. Either way, have the au jus set out on the table in a gravy boat or lipped serving bowl, for people to drizzle the yummy juices over their sliced Christmas Lechón.