This past weekend my friend Tyler and I hosted a pig roast, this is an annual tradition and the fourth time we've roasted one. Many guests ask us how we do it, so here's how and things we've learned along the way.
- Order the pig well in advance, most butchers will need 2-3 weeks to get one in. In years past we have ordered from a farm out in MD which we've driven out to and collected - it's nice to see where the pig came from - we like to know that the pig was a free roaming happy pig. This year we were pressed for time so we ordered from Harvey's in Union Market, but they were still able to tell us a little bit about the pig and the farm they got it from (Eastern Shore.) The last pig we roasted was close to 120lbs, this was too big and took too long. It also wasn't great either, too fatty, which is due to its larger size and age. Younger pigs have less fat so it melts off easier and quicker. Also, the larger the pig the more strain on the spit-motor. Most spit rentals have a weight limit, you don't want it breaking down on you - it happened to us with the 120lb pig. This year we ultimately ended up with a 71lb pig, smaller than we had wanted so we supplemented with a 12lb pig butt.
- Recruit your friends, you can't do this alone. Nor would you want to. You'll need people to help you babysit the pig while it's on the spit, depending on the size it'll need up to 12hrs to cook. You'll have lots to do, whether it be sleep, running errands or picking up ice. Your friends can make sure there's enough coal on the roaster and the spit keeps turning. In return, you're feeding them pig, it's a win win.
- Speaking of timing: we started at 6am, and took it off the spit around 4pm. Give yourself plenty of time to get the coals going and skewering the pig on the spit, it's not as easy as you'd think. You'll need a good hammer and the stomach to get your hands inside the pig to feed the spit through the carcass so it comes out the other end the way you want it. You'll also need strong wire to secure the pig, it will shrink during the roasting process, losing fat and water so you'll need to tighten the wire as it cooks.
- Make sure you have enough coal, you'll want about 8-10lbs per 10lbs of pig. Start off with at least a full bag, get them hot and pushed to the side. Cook the pig on indirect heat until the last 30-60 minutes. Oh, and be sure to have water on hand - safety first!
- Season the pig with lots of salt and pepper, and then more salt. You'll also want to spray it down with a vinegar mister throughout the roasting, we used:
- 1 Gallon Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1qt Worcestershire Sauce
- 10oz Lemon Juice
- For the final 30-60 minutes you'll want the coals to be directly under the pig and very hot, this is when the skin will get crispy. Once you've done this you'll remove the pig and let it rest for about a half hour before you start to carve it up.
- You have two options to serve, you can do a traditional pig picking in which you carve it up and let people come and fill their plates or you can carve and chop it up yourself and serve in roasters. We opted for the latter.
- The pig is hot. Make sure you have good heat-proof gloves. My finger tips can't stress this enough.
- Finally, have a name for your pig. It's tradition. In years past we've named her #Petunia, #AmandaSwines and #LindsayLoham. This year in honor of the Supreme Court's marriage ruling we went with #RuthBaconGinsburg.
I hope this helps, if you have any questions on roasting a pig leave them in the comments.