Original Receipt from 'The Cook's Oracle' by William Kitchiner (Kitchiner 1830)
Is in prime order for the spit when about three weeks old.
It loses part of its goodness every hour after it is killed; if not quite fresh, no art can make the crackling crisp.
To be in perfection, it should be killed in the morning to be eaten at dinner: it requires very careful roasting. A sucking-pig, like a young child, must not be left for an instant.
The ends must have much more fire than the middle: for this purpose is contrived an iron to hang before the middle part, called a pig-iron. If you have not this, use a common flat iron, or keep the fire fiercest at the two ends.
For the stuffing, take of the crumb of a stale loaf about five ounces; rub it through a colander; mince fine a handful of sage (i. e. about two ounces), and a large onion (about an ounce and a half. Mix these together with an egg, some pepper and salt, and a bit of butter as big as an egg. Fill the belly of the pig with this, and sew it up: lay it to the fire, and baste it with salad oil till it is quite done. Do not leave it a moment: it requires the most vigilant attendance.
Roast it at a clear, brisk fire at some distance. To gain the praise of epicurean pig-eaters, the crackling must be nicely crisped and delicately lightly browned, without being either blistered or burnt.
A small, three weeks old pig will be done enough in about an hour and a half.
Before you take it from the fire, cut off the head, and part that and the body down the middle: chop the brains very fine, with some boiled sage leaves, and mix them with good veal gravy, made as directed in, or beef gravy, or what runs from the pig when you cut its head off. Send up a tureenful of gravy besides. Currant sauce is still a favourite with some of the old school.
Lay your pig back to back in the dish, with one half of the head on each side, and the ears one at each end, which you must take care to make nice and crisp; or you will get scolded, and deservedly, as the silly fellow was who bought his wife a pig with only one ear.
When you cut off the pettitoes, leave the skin long round the ends of the legs. When you first lay the pig before the fire, rub it all over with fresh butter or salad oil: ten minutes after, and the skin looks dry; dredge it well with flour all over, let it remain on an hour, then rub it off with a soft cloth.
N.B. A pig is a very troublesome subject to roast; most persons have them baked. Send a quarter of a pound of butter, and beg the baker to baste it well.
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