“Lechon” and “cochinillo” are both Spanish terms that refer to roasted pig dishes, but they differ in several ways, primarily in the size of the pig and the method of preparation. Let’s explore the key differences between lechon and cochinillo:
- Size: Lechon typically refers to a whole roasted pig, which can be quite large, often weighing around 30 to 70 pounds or more. It’s a dish designed to feed a crowd and is often the centerpiece of celebrations, festivals, and special occasions.
- Preparation: The preparation of lechon involves seasoning the whole pig with a variety of spices, herbs, and sometimes a marinade. It is then roasted over an open flame, often outdoors, on a rotisserie or in a pit, resulting in a crispy skin and tender, flavorful meat. Lechon is known for its savory, seasoned flavor.
- Occasions: Lechon is commonly served at large gatherings, such as weddings, holidays, and festivals, where a significant number of people need to be fed.
- Size: Cochinillo, on the other hand, specifically refers to a roasted suckling pig, which is a young pig, typically around 2-6 weeks old. It is much smaller compared to a full-grown pig, weighing around 8-12 pounds.
- Preparation: Cochinillo is traditionally prepared with very minimal seasoning. The focus is on the pig’s natural flavors. It is often seasoned with just salt, allowing the delicate, tender meat to shine. The whole pig is then roasted to perfection, resulting in crispy skin and tender, succulent meat.
- Occasions: Cochinillo is a specialty often associated with Spanish cuisine, especially in regions like Castile and León, where it is considered a delicacy. It is typically served at more intimate and upscale gatherings, as it is a smaller dish.
In summary, the primary difference between lechon and cochinillo lies in the size of the pig and the preparation. Lechon is a whole roasted pig, often seasoned with various spices and herbs, and it is typically served at larger gatherings. Cochinillo, on the other hand, is a roasted suckling pig, seasoned with minimal ingredients, and is often considered a delicacy served at more upscale and intimate events. Both dishes are known for their crispy skin and tender meat, but the approach and occasions for serving them differ.