Leitão is one of Portugal’s most praised gastronomic delicacies.
Leitão is the Portuguese word for a suckling pig—normally a piglet in the first weeks. This wood oven spit-roasted piglet is absolutely a must-eat if you are travelling in Portugal.
While in the oven the piglet is continuously basted with a paste of garlic, pepper, kosher salt, bay leaves and pig fat. The main point of basting is to ensure a moist and tender meat and at the same time a crispy skin.
Leitão is commonly eaten in Portugal as a festive or celebration dish…….so whenever there is a special occasion, Leitão will most likely be on the menu! Most traditional wedding menus will still have Leitão as the last course on the menu………it would be, in the old days, the gastronomic moment everyone anticipated. In fact, the quality of weddings would in fact be assessed by the quality of the leitão……..the crispier the leitão, the more memorable the wedding would be.
All over the country, it will not be hard to find a restaurant that specializes in Leitão. However, should you want the authentic taste, the region that is renowned for serving these crispy-skinned piglets is the Bairrada region.
Located in the centre of Portugal, if you are driving on the A1, Bairrada is about mid-way between Lisbon and Oporto. If you take the Mealhada exit on Highway A1 and drive to the town centre, you will soon find the main road EN1. This busy road is bordered by a string of restaurants dedicated to the wood oven roasting of this renowned Portuguese specialty.
The Serra do Buçaco, Luso, Coimbra and the coastal region of Mira and Costa Nova as well as the city of Aveiro are also worth paying a visit, if you are spending some time in the area…