Time to get caught up on the blog…
Memorial Day Weekend aka the Annual Race Day Picnic was the occasion for my first whole hog roast. If I rewind nearly 20 years to the fall of 1994 (man, I’m old…), there’s a picture of me somewhere in overalls with a red sleeveless flannel shirt and cowboy boots in front of my hog roaster made from an a repurposed fuel oil tank. Parke, my fraternity brother, and I brought a live pig to the fraternity house and killed, skinned, and quartered it right there on the spot. Allegedly, the head was placed in the landscaping at Lincoln Quad (where the ISU sororities were) next to the bushes and flowers amongst the mulch….allegedly. We wrapped the quarters in foil with sauce and onions and roasted for a few hours for the homecoming party. Good times and good food!
Back to present day… I read a lot. OK, so I let narrators read audiobooks to me a lot. I read Cooked by Michael Pollan and was intrigued by the section on North Carolina whole hog barbecue. It is my responsibility to feed those attending the Annual Race Day Party, and I chose to shamelessly use them as an excuse to try my hand at a whole hog.
I decided that a good old fashioned hole in the ground would be fitting for the event. It also happened to be a great excuse to rent a backhoe… because who doesn’t want to play with a backhoe?!
I dug a fire pit to the left to burn wood down to coals for use in the hog pit on the right. At this point Craig joined the fun to play with fire. We burned wood in the hog pit to get a base of coals there, too. And to dry it out… turns out the water table is kinda high here… it’s the little details that always get you when you try crazy things like this…
We decided that putting the pig on around midnight would work out about right for the intended meal time the next day. The star of the show was an 80-90lb pig from Gunthorp Farms in LaGrange, IN. The pig was cleaned and the hair removed. The only butcher prep work to be done was splitting the spine with the cleaver so the front legs would splay. After that, the sum total of our chef duties was to liberally salt with kosher salt. I think this little piggy will flavor itself just fine!
Snug as a pig in a pit… not quite the same ring as snug as a bug in a rug… but pigs taste WAY better than bugs.
Jack volunteered to guard the pig pit in hopes that it would try to escape and he could eat it.
The next morning (after perhaps a beer or two and adding coals every few hours), we woke up to check on the progress, flip the pig and baste with the sauce (vinegar, salt, sugar, pepper and hot sauce).
And after about 12 hours in the sauna, it was time to pull and chop…
The wash cloths were to keep the sweat out of the food… this is not a fashion statement!
Chef’s privilege… tasting and feeding the sous chef aka chopper. Craig made cracklins on the grill with the skin for tasty crunchy bits in the chopped pork sandwiches.
Jack and Razz volunteered for bone removal duties…
I filled an entire 28-quart cooler with chopped pork. More than enough to feed the 20 or so people and send everyone home with too much left over pork.
Oh… and… it was absolutely DELICIOUS!!!! Tons of fun, good eating and huge success by all standards. Maybe I should buy my own backhoe and put more pigs in the woods… you know… just in case 😉