My Backyard Pig Roast
If you cook the food that you love, great things will come.
In May 2019, I celebrated my father's and my brother-in-law's birthdays by roasting a full sized pig in the backyard. This was no small effort. After significant research, I decided against digging a pig pit in the ground because I wanted to be able to be self-sufficient for this and future projects. Instead I purchased a metal cooking trough with motorized rotisserie spit. I sourced a barbecue pig on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, took off a day of work to pick it up, and otherwise prepared for the big family party. Everyone participated but my father-in-law was especially instrumental in the pig roast support (Thanks, Rickshaw!) team. The pig roast was a complete success. Families bonded, everyone ate until they couldn't, and there was a fierce hatchet-throwing competition in between courses.
Pig Roast Details & Schedule Menu: - snacks out during the day (cheese plate & crudite) - potato salad - coleslaw - deviled eggs - biscuits - baked beans - mac & cheese - kale caesar salad - bbq sauces - brownies
Supplies for the pig: - tarps x 2 (one for uncooked pig, one for cooked pig) - wire (for closing pig up and attaching loose ends) - wire cutters (to open pig back up)
- squeeze bottle with water (to spray on any fire flame-ups)
- basting sauce: olive oil, fresh garlic, fresh herbs, salt, pepper, orange juice and lemon juice
- 2 side tables nearby for pig prep & butchering - gloves (for handling raw pig, and then for post cooked when butchering) - sharp knives
- towels for managing juices during the butchering - container to collect the juices - platters (remember to put down cabbage to make your plating beautiful, and it helps manage any juices)
Schedule for the Big Roast: - 7am start charcoal/applewood, with a side fire for additional coals to be added as needed (a side fire will keep you from re-stoking the fire under the pig so you can manage that in as consistent way possible...you can just add coals as needed) - let pig come to room temperature - pig on tarp on side table - stuff pig with onion, garlic, salt/pepper, rosemary - sew pig up - pig on spit (a two person job! - the spit goes through the mouth, and threads through the sewn abdomen, out below the tail)
- 11am pig goes on fire - Cook Details: roast pig for 1 hr 15 min for every 10 lbs of dead weight pig = 50 lbs, until pig reaches 140 degrees internal temp
- Once appropriate temperature is reached, take pig off fire. Make sure your pathway is clear to the side table with fresh tarp because that spit is going to be HOT - cut open pig - incline the table during butchering to use the container to collect the juices - butchering: 1) Cut between the shoulder and hip joints to remove the four legs from the pig. Cut these four roasts off and hand off to another carver. The most meat will come off of these pieces, which should include the pork shoulders and butt. 2) You are left with the torso of the pig: the belly, back loins, neck and jowls, and rib meat. SAVE THE SKIN! It's the best part. Then carve the loins, then go after everything that's left on the torso. You'll have to work for some of this, especially the rib section. Pile onto the platters. Keep the bones in a separate area to save for soup. 3) Place a knife between two of the neck vertebrae just behind the ears and cut off the head of the pig for its own platter. Terrifying and excellent presentation. - 4:30 pm dinner is served
I snapped this pic during our hours roasting the pig. It ultimately led to my participation in a new #Netflix cooking show, #theAmericanBBQShowdown. I CAN'T WAIT for the show to air on Friday, September 18th, 2020. It's been almost exactly a year since we filmed. I don't have any pictures from that adventure because we couldn't have our phones with us and some of my memory is hazy because of the lack of sleep and intensity of the situation, but I do remember meeting incredible people both in front and behind the cameras, and of course, making and eating some spectacular food!
Barbecue is meant to be shared so I hope you and your family will make a plate and join me in turning on Netflix on September 18th to watch American Barbecue Showdown!