If you Roast it, they will come. Spit Roasted Pig, 101

Greetings Carnivores,

There’s something rather primal about spit roasting a whole hog over a bed of red hot embers for hours and hours. It gives you an opportunity, in this fast paced world we live in to sit back, cold beverage in hand and watch the spoils of your labour turn ever so slowly, whilst you visit with old, dear friends and Family.

Idyllic as that sounds … that’s NOT really what happened this past weekend.

TRUE, … my marital equivalent and I hosted an EPIC Pig Roast and Pot luck gathering for 100 or so of our closest friends, and family AND, it WAS an unqualified success (or so I’m told) but … there wasn’t very much “sitting back, cold beverage in hand” whilst the piggy did it’s dance routine with the hot coals.

Truth be told … it was a HUGE endeavor.

I bring that up not to complain but, … it’s the reason I’m posting today.

SPIT ROASTED PIG  (a primer)

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Wrapped in chicken wire to keep the stuffing from falling out, tin foil wrapped
ears to keep from burning

Months ago, a date was chosen and invitations were sent out for our Big Pig Roast and Potluck, on-line via Evite.com.

There are just so few weekends in this short Summer season we’re blessed with here in Southern Ontario (Canada) that if you want to host a gathering of this magnitude, you have to plan WAY ahead. Even having done so, there were a great many friends and family members who were unable to attend due to previously planned holidays and such.

First things first.

We prayed for glorious weather, just like this past weekend … nice and warm with a beautiful cool breeze, and after the Sun went down … hardly any bugs.

Thank you!  After that … everything was easy (ish)

Ok, … there WILL be drinking (Duh). Now that we’ve established that … if you live in the country like we do, a  Porta-Potty is essential so that your Septic system isn’t over-taxed.  For us boys … the whole world is our toilet but, the fairer sex needs to have a little comfort station. If you’re doing something like this, and you live in a rural area also, may I suggest you plan ahead and book a delivery and pick-up.

You, your ladies AND your septic system can thank me later …

Next, … music is a no-brainer so, I made another call to Long and McQuade, and rented 4 studio monitors and stands suitable for use with my Ipod. Big tables and 50 chairs were graciously loaned to us by our neighbours, festive lights were hung in the trees and a huge fire pit for gathering around, was made in the centre of the yard.

Now, for the Star of the Show.

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“This little Piggy”

A good friend of mine Bill, has a Butcher Shop so I made a call and ordered a Pig for pick up the night before. Billy does quite a few Pig Roasts as a catering business on the side, so he loaned me one of his huge BBQ’s as well.

Once the Pig was home (wrapped nicely in plastic bags) it was laid in the bathtub, covered with ice, another layer of plastic, then towels on top to help keep the ice from melting too fast.

Early Saturday morning we were up and doing final prep with the help of our good friends Dan and Shelley (who came for the weekend to help us with the event).

To prep the “Q”, two bags of sand were procured from Homeboy Depot, and poured into the bed of the firebox, directly UNDER the area where the pig would later be spending the rest of it’s day.

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Sand is poured into the firebox directly UNDER the Pig

This part is extremely important because if you build the fire underneath the carcass the resulting ‘flare-ups’ will cause havoc with the whole process. By having the sand directly under the spinning pig you’ll have a stress free day, since the sand will soak up the drippings and prevent the dreaded flames from giving you grief.

Next, using lump, Sugar Maple Hardwood Charcoal I loaded the first of 8 big bags into the “Q” , along the length of the Pig, BUT NOT DIRECTLY UNDER IT, and got it rolling.

To prep the Pig, I poked a small hole on either side of the spine from the inside and threaded a piece of wire through and left it loose as a big loop (I’ll explain why  in a minute) then, I salted the carcass inside and out and rubbed it with Olive Oil.

Time to put this critter on the spit.

First, I slid the two pronged, rear portion of the apparatus onto the spit and tightened the bolt to secure it. Next, I did a ‘dry run’ to determine where the two pronged part of the spit would meet the hams on either side, and made small cuts to facilitate inserting these prongs into the carcass.

With Miss Piggy laying on a table belly down, I started at the hind end and with the help of my buddy Dan, I pushed the spit into the cavity and onto the prongs securing it from the back. I kept pushing it through until I got to the area of the spine where I made the ‘loop’ with the wire and pushed the spit through the ‘loop’. Then, I continued pushing the spit up and out, through the neck and mouth. Next, I slid the front ‘hanger’ portion onto the spit and tightened the bolt.

Now, I needed to secure the Pig to the spit so it wouldn’t flop around during cooking. This is extremely important since the end result will be fall apart tender, and if it’s NOT properly secured I’d end up watching it disintegrate during the rotating process, and THAT would be a tragedy.

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Tightening the ‘loop’ to secure the backbone to the Spit

The ‘loop’ I spoke of earlier is to secure the back bone to the spit from the inside. Once the spit had passed through the ‘loop’, I twisted the two ends together from the OUTSIDE, with a pair of pliers until I thought it was tight … then, I twisted it a couple more times. Next, I wired the back legs to the prongs, and the trotters to the hanger at the front.

My Pig finally secured, I then stuffed the cavity with Italian Sausage links (not really necessary but, I wanted another item for the Potluck), and sewed it closed.

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Now THAT’S a FIRE !!

The coals were ROCKING HOT at this point so, all that was left to do was load the spit/Pig onto the BBQ and start it turning. I quickly noticed however, once it was spinning the head seemed to be flopping a bit so I stopped it, tied a wire around the neck, and tightly secured it to the spit as well.

This type of event is an all day thing and, half the fun for your guests is seeing the Pig doing it’s dance with the hot coals so … we planned our invite to begin any time after 2 pm.

The general rule of thumb for overall length of time to cook is 1 hour per every ten pounds of start weight so, … my Pig weighed in at right around 65-70 pounds which meant a target of 6 to 7 hours total time on the spit. A good digital read thermometer will tell you exactly what’s going on, just remember to insert it into the meat (you’ll probably have to ‘poke’ the outer skin with a knife) and keep it away from any bone.

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Gently rake the unlit coals to the lit ones

For maintenance during the cook, I added one bag of charcoal every hour to the “Q”. To do this I poured the new charcoal parallel to the hot coals and as they started to ‘catch, I gently pulled them into position with a rake.

Fast forward 6.5 hours the Pig was off the spit, and resting on a foil covered table. Wearing heavy duty rubber gloves I pulled the tender meat from the bones and shredded it. The outer skin (crackling) I cut into manageable pieces and returned them to the “Q” for final crisping up.

As a typical Potluck Party, we had an abundance of food and no one left hungry.

After the feast and clean up we retired to the HUGE, Fred Flintstone Bonfire in the centre of the yard and got caught up with everyone.

What a GREAT day.

Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please follow my posts on Twitter @DougieDee and like and share them on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential