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Slow-Poached St. Canut Suckling Pork Belly with Onion Puree, Garlic Confit, and Chives
Uni Foam Technique

Technique: How to Break Down a Suckling Pig
Chef April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig – New York, NY
September 2009

At the St. Canut farms nestled in Quebec’s Laurentian mountains, Yorkshire pigs are weaned on milk for three weeks and fed cow’s milk using a Swiss-made high-tech feeding system until the pigs reach the 60 pound mark. The result is tender, succulent meat with a delicate porky flavor that can be prepared sans extended brining/marinating or cooking.

The first order of business in breaking down a pig is to separate it into the primal cuts: legs, loin, shoulders, and the belly. As is the case with most types of meat and game, the butchers’ definition of a pig’s “primal cuts” can vary from country to country. In North America for example, the shoulder is often divided into two primal cuts: the “butt” section (upper area of the shoulder) and the “picnic” section (lower area attached to the foreleg). In Europe, the fatback and the head are also often considered primal cuts.

Tools Required:

  • One boning knife with a rigid, yet slightly flexible blade (more rigid than a fish filleting knife).
  • One medium-sized butcher saw to cut through the heavier bones.

Step 1: Remove the head by making two incisions on each rear side of the pig’s cheek with a knife. Follow through the cut using the saw if necessary and remove the head.
Step 2: Remove the shoulders/forelegs by making an incision with a knife from the 4th rib from the top of the carcass down along the natural joint separating the shoulders from the rest of the rib cage. Use a saw to finish the cut and separate the foreleg section from the rest of the pig. Separate the two forelegs using a knife.
Step 3: Alternating between the knife and saw, remove the hind leg section of the pig by sawing the pig cross-wise through the “saddle” or base of the spine. Separate the two hind legs using a knife.
Step 4: To separate the middle section of the pig into the belly and loin, saw halfway through the spine connecting each side of the rib cage. Flip the section over and using a knife, slice in one motion through the skin along the spine of the pig. Flip the pig over again, and cut all the way through the spine, separating the middle section of the pig in half.
Step 5: To separate the belly from the tenderloin, begin with one incision on each side of the loin bone and finally saw roughly along the bone in one motion.

Camera: Richie Adomako
Editing: Laurence Wallace

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Slow-Poached St. Canut Suckling Pork Belly with Onion Puree, Garlic Confit, and Chives
Chef April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig – New York, NY
Adapted by
September 2009
Yield: 4 Servings


Pork Belly:
½ suckling pig belly, ribs removed and butterflied
1 suckling pig ear
Pork bones or scraps with stock

Onion Puree:
2 medium onions, sliced
2 ounces butter
2 cardamom pods, split and outer shell discarded
Olive oil

To Assemble and Serve:
Flat leaf parsley, fried until crisp
12 cloves confit garlic, breaded and deep fried
Budding or blossoming chives


For the Pork Belly:
Season the pork belly. Lay the belly with the fat facing down and roll like a roulade. Turn the belly and tie with butcher string. Combine the belly, ear and bones and cover with water. Season and poach for 2 hours, or until belly and ear are tender. Remove the ear and belly, reserving the liquid, and allow to cool. Finely slice the pig ears and deep fry. Drain the ear and season. Untie the string on the belly and slice into even-sized portions.

For the Onion Puree:
Combine the onions, butter, cardamom, and salt. Cook until the onions are soft. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth, adjusting the consistency with olive oil.

To Assemble and Serve:
Poach the pork belly in the reserved liquid until warm and place on plate. Arrange the onion puree. Top with the crispy ear, parsley, confit garlic, and the chives.

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  Published: September 2009