Kendra and I assisted in helping Elena and Scott do a little house-warming-party-pig roast for about 60 guests in the back yard of her new house. None of us ever really roasted a pig so it was great culinary learning event. We took photos, videos and some notes on the pig party and the cooking process…so if it happens again, we can surely tell folks that we’re no experts… but we know how to have fun.
Pondering the Pig
The ABC’s of Queen Elena’s Pig Roast
(from Mike Wayne’s perspective)
A. Overall I feel if was a wonderful success for a first time trial.
B. My biggest fear going into the process was the weather, which ended up not being a factor; scorching hot and sunny all day… just the place you want to be- in front of a hot grill.
C. I would estimate there were between 50 – 60 people who attended.
D. The pig was approx. 70 lbs., and I would guess we had 6- 8 lbs. of trimmed meat left over.
E. The crowd in general did not appear to be “big” meat eaters. If you had a lager bunch of guys- rednecks- carnivore type of people, you would probably need about a 80 lbs. pig for 50 – 60 hungry folks
F. The kiddie tub transport from the farm and the brine process worked fine in the bathroom tub. Except he was hogging the shower for 2 days and a bit messy when we had to drag him out of the tub, through the house and onto the kitchen prep counter.
G. The brining needle worked perfect- As well as the homemade sewing needle which was a necessity. I’m not sure how we would have sewn the pig up without it- most of what I researched just showed people poking holes in the skin and pushing thru the twine.
H. We used stainless steel wire and attached the wire to the spit thru the spine of the pig in 3 spots. We should have done about 5-6 loops thru the spine because later the pig was sagging on the spit as it turned. After we skewered the pig, we rubbed the inner cavity with a spice rub then stuffed him with a citrus mixture and sewed him up.
I. I would probably would used thick butchers twine next time. The wire got hot enough in some places to burn thru in some areas of pig while it cooked.
J. We used 8 bags of charcoal- and about a bag’s worth of oak chunks randomly added for smoke. After we put him on the spit the pig flopped around too much and we got concerned. We took it off and repositioned the spit tighter on both the front and rear of the pig. Elena called a friend Brandon, and experienced pig cooker- meat smoker- BBQ guy who came by and checked out our procedure and assured us we were doing ok. He stuck around for the day and provided advice, moral support, helped us drink beer and later, eat pig.
K. Brandon said the fire should stay hot enough to hold your hand over it for about 5- 10 seconds before it became painful. I had a homemade short handle hoe to spread the coals. I believe we did good with the heat but it took us from about 8:30 am until almost 6:45 before we could take it off the spit. Part of the delay is because we took it off twice in the beginning to re-fasten and secure the pig because it was flopping. It would be beneficial to have a grill that had a top roof-type of shield to help hold in the heat. Next time a closed grill with a better spit.
L. I think that actual cooking time was more like 8 hrs., and the rump part of the pig was still not completely cooked thru when we took it off; it was about at 150 degrees.
M. We didn’t have time to let it sit for an hour. Brandon said its necessary to let it sit for a while after you take it off so the juices will soak in. Otherwise the meat will get dry. We had a bunch of hungry folks then so it didn’t have time to dry out.
N. Brandon came up with the mixture to spray on the pig while cooking: ½ cider vinegar and ½ beer. We also brushed the skin with rosemary olive oil during the cooking process
O. We had a thin finishing sauce to place the cut meat in, which was Brandon’s idea, and a good one.
P. The Pig Platter was a necessity and I don’t know how you could really do without it, or at least some kind of big plank. It was helpful in prepping and moving the pig as well as serving it. It was made from tongue and groove pine sections with a short wood edge, and the grooves allowed for grease drainage. And it had rubber feet, which excited some people. It was about 5 ft. long and 30 inches wide. The surface had been oiled down with 3 coats of corn oil.
Q. The pig needle was made from a ¼ in SS rod, 24 inches long. Heated and hammered flat at one end with an eyelet cut with a dremel tool. The other end ground to a spear point. Cost $4 in material
R. Having the small portable high-speed fan was necessary after we took the pig off the spit and began to carve. It kept the flies off the pig and helped cool it off.
S. The spit that was on the grill was lame and barely held the pig from flopping. Although we hammered the tridents into the both the skull and the rump, the pig still flopped and I thought the motor was going to burn up. Next time I would definitely use a double spit, such as the one in the pictures below that would secure the pig better. Also we had some problem with the way the motor was mounted, as it kept clunking when it rotated- lesson learned is to check out and test the motor a head of time at the rental place.