How to Roast a Pig - Aporkalypse 2007

DSC_6634So, Steve and Amy are getting married this summer and they asked me to roast a pig for their rehearsal dinner. Well, I've got some skillz in the kitchen, but I've never done a pig before so we decided to to a "Practice Pig". The result: Aporkalypse.

This is how we did it…

  • Getting a pig
  • Clean and prep
  • Spitting and Stuffing
  • Roasting
  • Eating

Getting a Pig

DSC_6528Steve called up the local pig farm and hooked it all up. They even had an electric spit which we rented for a small fee. Before we knew about the spit we investigated a few other ways to do it. These two sites have tons of helpful information:

The pig we got was about 60lbs, which *should* feed 60-70 people. Now, we weren't expecting that many, but it was the smallest he could do. The pig man was friendly and helpful. I didn't ask him if he also did body disposal.

Clean and Prep

DSC_6829The pig was a bit stiff, as she was hanging in the cooler for a few days. So, while she softened up we went to work on the marinade and the stuffing.

For the marinade, I did a derivation of what the Miami guys do. In a blender, we added…

  • about 5 heads of garlic
  • a few tablespoons of fresh ground pepper
  • a handful dried oregano
  • a tablespoon or so of salt
  • 2 cups of oranage juice
  • 1 cup of lemon juice

I don't think the proportions are that important.

DSC_6726Before we slathered on the marinade, we had to give piggy a good bath. Doesn’t Steve look like a serial killer? Then we slathered on the marinade. Just rub it all over the insides, getting into the little nooks and crannies.

Once the marinade was applied, we covered piggy loosely and left her in a cool place for the night. Or pig was still slightly frozen in some areas, so, we didn't pack her with ice, but we found a nice, cool, pest-safe area for her to lie and meditate on the busy day she would have tomorrow.

Spitting and Stuffing

DSC_6875The next morning, we uncovered piggy and drained some of the excess marinade that had pooled in the cavity. Before stuffing, we had to put her on the spit. The spit we rented had a variety of dogbones and supports, but we found that just two spikes did the job. The spit went in through the mouth and out the…well you know where. Now, some people wire the backbone to the spit, but since we had a pretty small pig and we would be tying it elsewhere, we didn't.

Stuffing

The stuffing does a few things, it keeps the abdomen of the pig from collapsing and it flavours the pig from the inside while it cooks. Oh, and it tastes FANTASTIC! I actually made the stuffing the night before, here is the recipe I came up with…

  • 3-4 tbsp oil
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 1 head of garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs smoked sausage, chopped into small pieces
  • 3 loaves of bread, ripped into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 lbs dried cranberries
  • 1/2 lb chopped almonds
  • salt, pepper and oregano (don't be afraid)
  • a little orange juice to moisten the mixture

DSC_6895Basically, you saute the onions, then the garlic. Throw in everything else and give it a good stir. Moisten with a little OJ, but not too much–there'll be lots of juice from the pig.

After the pig is on the spit, you simply jam the stuffing up into the rib cage around the spit. Using some steel tie wire (not galvanized), we stiched up the neck and abdomen, tied the front trotters around the spit over the chinny-chin-chin and pulled the back trotters up by the belly. We weren't sure how much the flesh might fall apart near the end of the cooking, so we did a few loops around the neck, abdomen and butt. We wrapped the ears and tail in aluminum foil to prevent burning.

Roasting

DSC_6971As I mentioned, we were lucky enough to have a pig supplier that rented an electric spit. The spit included panels to reflect the heat and hold the coals. We got the charcoal going with makeshift chimney lighter (tall narrow box with newpaper stuffed in the bottom and coals piled in the top. Once things heated up, we put the pig on and assembled the top. After adjusting the motor hieght, we plugged it in and spread out the coals. The farmer warned us about getting things too hot at the beginning, so we went easy at first with the coals.

Then it was time to drink a little beer and play guitar.

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Some key things about the roasting process…

  • Start slow. There's a lot of pig to cook, so don't burn him right off the bat.
  • Pile the coals a little higher under the sholders and hams. These are the thickest parts and will be toughest to cook.
  • Mop that bad boy!

Mopping

DSC_7092To enhance the flavour and break down the fat, we mopped the pig periodically. Here's the recipe we used…

  • 1/2 C cheap BBQ sauce
  • 2 C canola oil
  • 1 C lemon juice
  • handful of dried oregano
  • a few tbsp pepper

Just slather that stuff on from time to time. The lemon juice sweetens the crackling and the oil keeps it from burning too much. We stopped mopping about 45 minutes before the end of cooking in order to make the crackling crisp. I cannot describe in words how good the crackling is. It's friggin' good.

When It's Done

Cooking time depends on a lot of things - weight of the pig, how hot your fire is, stuffing, if you're reflecting heat from the back and top, etc. 3 Men with Nothing Better to Do have this handy chart…

Weight (lbs) Charcoal (lbs) Cooking Time (hrs)
65 120 6-7
75 140 7-8
100 160 8-9
125 180 9-10

Our pig was about 60 pounds and it took about 6 hours to cook using approximately 80lbs of charcoal. I think our low amount of charcoal was because of the heat reflectors around our spit.

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As the pig is cooking, you'll notice the skin crack and the joints in the legs start to give as things get closer to done. The only way to really know that the pig is done is to use a meat thermometer. I have a handy dandy Polder digital thermometer that we would stick it various places in the beast as we got closer to the end. Make sure you check the temperature thick places like the shoulder and ham and check the temperature of the stuffing. The recommended temperature for pork is 170 degrees. Food poisoning is no fun and you don't want your pig roast to be remembered for the number of guests you sent to the hospital.

Serving and Eating

So, piggie is done. Time to eat. To cut the beast up we slid it on to a table covered with a brand new plastic tarp. First, we took some pics.

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Then, we removed all the tie wire, scooped out the stuffing, cracked off a bunch of the crackling, cut off the hams and the sholders and sliced the meat into managable pieces. We bought a few disposable foil roasting pans to put everything in. People brought cold salads and dessert and most importantly, more beer. Time to relax and enjoy the fruits of our labour!

For more photos of Aporkalypse, check out my Aporkalypse Flickr set and if you have any questions or comments, email me at thejimp@gmail.com. Happy Roasting!