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How do you spit roast a large pig?


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Say you want to have a pig roast for 30-40 people. How? I assume you can rent the hardware and accessories, and you probably buy the pig from a farm, but does anyone here know of any good online resources to tell you what to do next? I tried looking but didn't find anything that seemed comprehensive and yet basic, like "an idiot's guide to" spit roasting.

Also, any ideas on the biggest baddest pig I could get for this number of people without have like 80 pounds of meat left over?


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The typical guideline for a pig roast is 1 pound (dead weight) per person, which I actually have found to be a bit much if you are also planning lots of sides and dessert. I would probably go more like 3/4 pound per person. But if you want leftovers, definitely do a 60 pound pig. Also decide if you want the head on or off (head off and you will have a higher meat to bone ratio for the number of pounds so reduce the size of the animal somewhat). Also be sure you're ordering dead weight not live weight as a pig will lose a substantial amount in blood and innards (most butchers will sell dead weight, most farmers will sell live weight).

You can rent pig roasters from most catering equipment supply companies. Or build a pit oven or roasting box.

The pig is most easily obtained from your local meat wholesaler or any good butcher (Bucktown Boffo are you in Chicago's Bucktown? If so, just call Peoria Packing on Lake Street.) To get one from a farmer, you'd probably have to arrange pretty far in advance, as most direct-sales farmers take orders from their customers months in advance.

There are a couple other threads on eGullet about roasting pigs. Search for them. Or maybe someone else has them at their fingertips??? (Don't have time to search--have already spent too much time posting today :biggrin:

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I've spit roasted many pigs. Several points:

1. The structure of a pig is that most of the meat is at the ends, legs/hams and shoulders (thick at the ends, thin in the middle). Meat conducts heat quite slowly, so these are the areas you need to concentrate on, Build small fires outside each end, and nothing (or a gravy pan of in the middle. SMALL fires or you will burn the outside before you cook the middle. Even better build something like a tent to keep the heat in. I use corrugated iron or aluminium siding sheets on three sides and above the pig that acts as a wind break and something like a slow oven. You can hire professional rigs, or like me improvise with scaffolding and plasterers trestles.

2. Use a digital meat thermometer. Its done at 60C/140F in the thickest part. 55C even, At 70C it will be overcooked and dry. It will take about 6 hours to heat through.

3. Pigs are heavy and greasy, and shrinks as they cook, so secure well to your spit and make sure when you turn it the pig turns as well. Score the crackling with a stankey or craft knife - needs to be very sharp and not deep. If you use a conventional knife its hard not to go too deep. Rub the pig with salt and olive oil.

If the kidneys are there leave them for cooks perks.

Rig something that will hold the off-centre weight of the pig in the position you want it. I normally give it quarter of a turn every quarter of an hour.

4, Think how you are going to carve and serve it, You will need help and a production line - one person to carve joints off the carcass, one person to carve slices, and a couple of helpers to plate or stuff into buns. Take the carckling off seperaely and cut into portons with scissors or shears, serve seperately.

I like it in hamburger buns (no plates) with lots of sage and onion stuffing (Paxo) made quite loose, and apple sauce, The sides make the pig go further - reckon about a pound live weight per person. 30-40 people is a small pig, or large suckling pig.

If you are feeding the five thousand then cheat - cook a couple of pigs for show and smell, but serve from boneless rolled joints cooked conventionally


Edited by jackal10 (log)
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