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September 8th, 2013

Birthday Pig Roast

So how do you celebrate a significant birthday without drawing attention to how old you are? Roast a whole pig in your backyard!

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We were going to to the traditional islander pig-in-the-ground-pit way that my grandfather did way back when. But that proved too time consuming with no way to check on the pig's progress, plus it was getting too difficult with the amount of rain we've been having lately. So I stumbled across this guy who built his own cooker for $25 and basically copied him!

The box is 5x3 and 30" tall,  lined with 2 layers of heavy duty foil. I put in 6 rebars across to hold a fencing grate for the pig. There were air vents on the sides and top lid. Total coast: about $30 (because I used my hurricane wood from my shed)
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Our only mistake was we put in too much charcoal. A 16 pound bag is plenty to start with. We started with about 30 pounds and so it became intensely hot.

Warning: vegans leave the post now!

While you wait for the coal, you need to prep your pig. Don't feel too sorry for him for he led a good and active life: raised on a farm, free grazing, no drugs or hormones, eating organic foods. I think they even read Proust to him late at night. It was about a 90 pounder which ended up about 60 pounds of meat after he was butchered. We coated his back with olive oil and kosher salt.
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Next we lined his insides with a dry rub and then later with a wet pig mop to keep him tender.
Click on the links for the recipes.


We plopped him on the grill and had planned for a 5 hour cook. But it was so hot, we invented a new style of pig cooking: Blackened pig. Charring the back kept the juices in and since we were going to peel the skin off, it seemed like an ok way to go. We only had one mishap grease fire; luckily I had a bucket of water handy!

We used a digital thermometer with a remote to monitor the progress, but because it was so hot and the foil acts as a convection oven, the thing cooked in only 2.5 hours! Never flipped it. Still great and juicy, but not quite as pretty. Next one will try to get temp at a lower 200 degrees and cook for 5 hours. But even the char was tasting eating, spicy and crisp.


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We had about 40 people over and, as you can see, the thing was pretty much gone by the end. It was a great party! Thank you all for helping me to celebrate.

Special thanks to my friends Friedeman (who led the box build and helped pick up the pig from the farmer), Ned (who was on fire and beer drinking detail) and Tutu, for talking me into it! And most of all, my wife Maggie, who thought I should do something special when normally I try to do nothing for my birthdays.

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I will now eat salad for a week.