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Q&A -- Pit Roasting a Pig

20 posts in this topic

Great article!

The few times I have roasted a whole hog (usually "luau style") it has been frozen when I picked it up. This makes things a lot easier, as the pig can defrost overnight in the bathtub or another suitable large container without any health concerns.

How long did you have to burn the initial fire before you got started?


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Thanks for the lesson. You used apple wood because it was readily available at your pit-site. Which wood do you prefer to use in cooking your pig? I generally use some green hickory, which has a strong smoky flavor and combine it with some sweeter flavored smoke, such as pecan or a fruit tree.


Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Why is the pig not wearing a baseball cap and dark glasses? I thought these items were essential...

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Great article!

The few times I have roasted a whole hog (usually "luau style") it has been frozen when I picked it up.  This makes things a lot easier, as the pig can defrost overnight in the bathtub or another suitable large container without any health concerns.

How long did you have to burn the initial fire before you got started?

Thanks!

The fire was burning for about 3.5 hours, but it was much too hot. I think two hours should be enough. When the fire has died down, move the coals to the secondary fire area and return them to the pit when necessary.

Michael


Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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Thanks for the lesson.  You used apple wood because it was readily available at your pit-site.  Which wood do you prefer to use in cooking your pig?  I generally use some green hickory, which has a strong smoky flavor and combine it with some sweeter flavored smoke, such as pecan or a fruit tree.

I like to use the same wood that produces fruit or nuts that go with various parts of the pig. This includes apples, cherries, and walnuts; so apple, cherry, and walnut wood infuse a nice flavor into the meat. Mayple syrup goes well with bacon, so maple wood is also good.

Hickory imparts a strong flavor and is a good wood for just about all proteins. It's one of the most plentiful as well as being one of the cheapest.

These are the woods I commonly use when smoking smaller portions of pork.

Last week I made my first attempt at cold smoking homemade bacon and used 25 percent apple, 25 percent maple, and 50 percent hickory.

It was really nice! :laugh:


Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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Why is the pig not wearing a baseball cap and dark glasses? I thought these items were essential...

Well, after all, it was prepared for a wedding. A garish presentation like that would have the bride kicking me out of the reception!

:shock:


Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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What do you recommend drinking while barbequeueing the pig? :raz:

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All NYC eGulleteers: await the signal.

The whole pig has been acquired from Lobel's.

Friday, at dusk, we meet in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. In the Vale of Cashmere. From there we will move to the location we discussed.

We shall dig, we shall light the fire, we shall roast. And we shall enjoy whole pig for Saturday brunch, eating only with our fingers.

This is a time for patience and fortitude, for within 48 hours we will achieve the greatest feat of urban guerilla cooking in the history of the five Boroughs.

Quiet! Somebody's coming!

N.B. The above is a feeble joke. Do not attempt to meet in the Vale of Cashmere. No pig has been procured, sadly. Digging a hole and starting a fire in Prospect Park would be both unsafe and illegal, and nothing written above should be interpreted as an endorsement of such foolish behavior.


"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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This makes things a lot easier, as the pig can defrost overnight in the bathtub or another suitable large container without any health concerns.

Well, I would imagine that one health concern would be the heart-attack when someone unsuspecting walks into the bathroom and sees a sow soaking in the tub!

:biggrin:


-drew

www.drewvogel.com

"Now I'll tell you what, there's never been a baby born, at least never one come into the Firehouse, who won't stop fussing if you stick a cherry in its face." -- Jack McDavid, Jack's Firehouse restaurant

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How hard is it to turn the pig and does that rebar get as hot as I think it does?

In Iowa, people often don't dig a pit, they have these big barrel roasters for the whole pig. Being hog country, people roast whole pigs often.

What is your take on the barrel roaster method as opposed to the pit?


9 out of 10 dentists recommend wild Alaska salmon.

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This makes things a lot easier, as the pig can defrost overnight in the bathtub or another suitable large container without any health concerns.

Well, I would imagine that one health concern would be the heart-attack when someone unsuspecting walks into the bathroom and sees a sow soaking in the tub!

:biggrin:

I do have some pretty damn funny pictures of a pig defrosting inside someone's bathtub...


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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What is your take on the barrel roaster method as opposed to the pit?

I imagine Michael and perhaps others will weigh in on this, but I thought I'd add my own 2 cents as well...

Pigs that are cooked in a closed environment such as the "barrel roasters" you describe strike me as more "smoked" than "roasted." As a result, open pit roasting such as Michael describes tends to produce meat that is less smoky but has more "roasted" flavor. This is probably a result of several things: A) there is less smoke around the pig; B) the pig is roasted over direct heat as opposed to indirect heat; C) because the pit is open, the cooking environment is not as moist; D) due to B and C, there are more crispy bits and roasted-tasting compounds produced by a combination of direct heat and slight dehydration at the surface.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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In North Carolina, we generally use the closed environment pig cookers, but we still cook over direct heat. We keep the temperature inside the cooker very low (app. 200 degrees F) during the first several hours to allow a slow rendering of fat. A good NC-style pig requires the burning of the fat on the wood embers, creating a different type of smoke. It's a delicate process, but the results are worth it.

FYI, I actually plan on brining my pig in a bathtub. The children will be scared shitless, I'm sure of that.


Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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God I'm glad I'm not the only one crazy enough to have brined a whole pig in a bathtub!

I use Alice Waters brining recipe and everyone always loves it. (Salt, sugar, garlic, thyme, allspice, juniper berries)

Where I grew up we were lazy. A pit was dug and a fire built inside and beside it. When the coals were ready the hog was laid in the pit on the coals, and then covered with the coals from above and then dirt was placed on top of that. Finish drinking whatever whiskey is left and go to bed. Wake up at the crack of noon, exhume the corpse, hose it off, and lay it on the table to eat. (Some folks with more foresight use foil or some other covering to keep the pig clean)

There are however as many ways to roast a pig as skin a cat and the results are much tastier.

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Cooking a pig in the ground has none of the aspects you all are giving it. First, you dig a pit. Next, you line it with good ole river rocks that aren't going to shatter when they are hot. You let all your fire burn down. You take your critter wrapped in either foil or burlap, put it in the pit, and cover the pit back up. Let it go 14 hours. Dig it up.....Eat. Any more questions?

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That's why the class says:

This eGullet Culinary Institute lesson describes the process of roasting a whole pig in an open pit -- also known as a pig roast. This is open pit roasting as opposed to closed pit roasting (Hawaiian Luau Style) where the pig is surrounded by hot rocks and buried in the ground, or to cooking in a closed smoker.

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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We generally go through 4x4o# bags of hardwood charcoal over 8 hrs in a closed pit!


hot.chef@verizon.net

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This makes things a lot easier, as the pig can defrost overnight in the bathtub or another suitable large container without any health concerns.

Well, I would imagine that one health concern would be the heart-attack when someone unsuspecting walks into the bathroom and sees a sow soaking in the tub!

:biggrin:

You have to ask the long suffering and saintly Mrs. Varmint about that! :laugh:


Katie M. Loeb
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Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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