There are a few different ways to roast a pig. You can go old school on a spit and open fire like I did, the Caja China is pretty interesting, on a big enough smoker, in a cinder block pit, or the uniquely Hawaiian way of buried in the ground. Whatever way you choose to do it, the more care you put into the prep, the better your finished product will be.
Find A Pig
A good pig roast starts with a good pig. A great place to start is going straight out to the farm to pick out the guest of honor. I’m lucky enough to have a great local farm that specializes in animals just for barbecues, Well’s Farm in Riverhead, NY has been in business and family owned since 1661 (that isn’t a typo! 350+ years!!!). They are a USDA Custom Slaughterhouse and a great place to go if you are local. If you don’t have a farm close by, try your local butcher. They might not be able to get a fresh pig but a frozen one will do. Ethnic groceries are another source of pigs as Hispanic, Filipino, and Greek markets do thriving business in swine.
A knowledgeable pig purveyor will ask how you want your pig delivered. They will want to know how you plan on cooking it and will offer to butterfly the pig open for you if needed. They will also ask about the offal. Several cultures use the entire pig from snout to tail and everything in between. My Puerto Rican buddy (a brother from another mother kind of friend) was sorely disappointed that I wasn’t making blood sausage. I got my pig devoid of everything and spit ready!
Inject The Swine For Flavor
To fully enhance the flavor of my pig, I choose to inject it with a brine. I found a great one on Amazing Ribs:
Pork Brine Injection
1 tablespoon table salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 cup apple juice or low sodium pork, chicken, or beef stock
3 cups water
This makes about 1 quart which is enough for about 30 lbs of meat. I mixed up a gallon!
Now injecting a whole pig is not for the faint of heart! Those little porkers have a thick skin and some muscle is required! Make sure to to inject the thick muscles of the front and rear shoulders, along the back into the loins, and into the belly (THE BACON!!!!). The key to a good injection is to insert the needle deep and evenly push down the plunger as you pull it out.
Warning!!! This can be a tad messy to say the least be prepared for some gushing from the pig. I got a nice face full of Pig Brine squirted back at me and let’s just say it was less than an optimal good time!
Put Him On A Spit
Next up on the Pig Prep to-do-list is get Wilbur onto the spit. This is where having a few good friends around to help out comes in handy. These friends will most likely be sticking around to eat your pig and drink your beer, so choose wisely. The hardest part about getting the pig onto the spit is the jaws. Even a fresh pig will have a touch of rigor mortis and this is where a pry bar might come in handy.
If using a spit they will usually have tines on them that need to go into the front and rear shoulders. Using bailing wire tie the legs up to these times for that sleek “race pig” look.
At this point the pig is just moments away from going onto the fire. I used a basic rub of paprika, salt, pepper, and sugar to season inside the cavity. I rubbed deep into the ribs and the inside of the belly. I also gave the outside of the pig a quick rub down with the remaining rub.
The final step before the flames is the pig needs to be wired to the spit. I used the injector needle to punch alternating holes on either side of the spine. You need to get into the cavity and give the wire a good twist to tighten it to the spit.
It is a little graphic but the the end justifies the means in this case.
6 long hours of waiting and drinking are now in order! This is the hectic yet fun part of having a Pig Roast. Now it is all about tending the fires, frantically getting aPORKalypse Punch made, beer and soda on ice, and setting up the music.
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