Portuguese roast suckling pig (leitão assado)
Leitão assado or, less frequently, leitão assado à Bairrada, is a Portuguese dish of roast suckling pig. It originated in Covões, Cantanhede, and is regarded as the richest gastronomic treat of the region, with restaurants all along the north-south estrada nacional (national highway) from Lisbon to Porto serving it. Bairrada itself is a small region in this area known for its white and sparkling wines.
Before slaughter, the piglet weighs between six and ten kilos and, at a month or a month and a half old, has been weaned. It is seasoned with salt and pepper and roasted whole on a spit for two hours in a wood-fired oven. In the town of Mealhada, where at least two dozen restaurants advertise this specialty, the brick ovens are fueled by eucalyptus bark. The crispy meat is served with orange wedges and a robust red wine from the Douro River region.
- Pairings: Pork with Beans, Smoke and Spice to Match the Red, by Florence Fabricant, The New York Times, October 31, 2007, Dining & Wine section, page 7