While suckling pig is delicious, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to cook. At Alain Ducasse’s traditional French bistro Benoit in New York, chef Philippe Bertineau is proving that he knows exactly how to roast a suckling pig, and he’s showing off his talents every Tuesday through the month of April with his Le Cochon & Ses Régions whole suckling pig dinners.
If you happen to find yourself dining there on a Tuesday and are unaware that the special is going on, you won’t be for long. At several intervals throughout the evening an entire roast suckling pig, crispy skin and all, is paraded through the dining room and presented to everyone who’s taking advantage of the special, and it’s truly a sight to behold.
To prepare the pig, chef Philippe debones the entire pig before seasoning it heavily (we tasted plenty of sage and rosemary), tying it up so it retains its shape, and roasting it whole for upwards of three hours. To serve, the pig is sliced crosswise, so the end result is a tidy circle of tasty assorted pig parts surrounded by a ring of crispy skin. Pork jus is ladeled over the top, and each week it’s served with an assortment of different sides that highlight the cuisine of a different region. This past week the series kicked off with a tribute to Alsace, so the pork was served with two different cabbage preparations, steamed potatoes, and cochon jus with mustard. Here’s the schedule for the rest of the month:
April 12: Brittany
Cranberry bean casserole Paimpol style, red apples, leeks
Artichoke hearts confit in butter
Cochon jus with Pommeau
April 19: Basque Country
Boudin slice + espelette pepper
Broad beans and young onions
Cochon jus with espelette pepper
April 26: Provence
Stuffed vegetables + herb pistou
Cochon jus with olives
When we sampled the cochon at the invitation of the restaurant, it was tender, perfectly cooked, and full of flavor, with each part of the cross-section – be it belly or loin – showing off its own unique characteristics. If you’re a fan of roast suckling pig and also want to experience one of the finest French restaurants in New York, we suggest you book a table at Benoit for an upcoming Tuesday.