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roasting a whole pig


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#1 flavorcountry

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 09:53 PM

i'm hoping to roast a whole pig with a bunch of friends and am looking for advice, tips, prices (specifically of the cooking setup), suggestions, stories of experience, ... anything that will help. we don't have experience with cooking whole animals other than poultry. i'm thinking of doing a pit (either underground or above ground), but i am not opposed to a non-pit option if that would be easier.
any suggestions on where to get one? i'm thinking viande (not even sure if they can hook this up), or a farm from the eatwild.com network.
i've looked at a couple websites that talk about this, but i would love to hear from some portland natives and the fine folk who peruse this website.
thanks in advance

#2 billb

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 10:38 PM

I've never done this, but I've always wanted to. I'd love to see a report...

I did inquire at Gartner's once about getting a whole pig, and they said they could do it... Didn't ask how much.

#3 Calabrese

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 05:28 AM

Viande could probably offer advice on how.

#4 PDXWine

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 06:58 AM

Rodney Muirhead knows how to smoke one. I know. I helped devour it.

#5 Jill-O

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 09:55 AM

Great pics and step by step instructions here:

http://cuban-christm...m/pigroast.html
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#6 Knobcreeky

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 10:53 AM

Gartners will sell you a whole hog by the pound. Minimum is 65 pounds I believe. I've done that and headed out to Carlton to pick one out as well. If you don't want to look it in the eye while still kicking than avoid the trip to Carlton.

I've tried a number of versions but have settled on renting a rotisserie, prepping the pig the night before and getting it on the spit early the morning of the event. It works for almost any space, doesn't screw up anyone's back yard and provides an ample supply of crispy pig skin which doesn't happen if you bury it.

I also have a theory that you need 2 shifts of cooks. One to get everything started and well on its way and one to finish the job and do the carving. This is mainly due to excess intake of bourbon and beer by Shift 1 which is part of the deal. Depending on alot of variables that pig is going to take 8-12 hours to cook and will need a fair amount of attention- gotta have a little fun.

The most important thing to remember is that this is fun. Don't over think it. The pig will get cooked, everyone will eat and drink and have a good time, there will be some mishaps but it can all be fixed with a squirt bottle, some heat proof gloves and a stiff shot of bourbon.
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#7 piggly_wiggly

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 02:47 PM

The most important thing to remember is that this is fun. Don't over think it. The pig will get cooked, everyone will eat and drink and have a good time, there will be some mishaps but it can all be fixed with a squirt bottle, some heat proof gloves and a stiff shot of bourbon.


Now if only everyone who threw a party understood this principle. ....

Damn. Pig, bourbon, and a squirt bottle. the possibilities are endless....

Who knew you could drool enough to fry a keyboard.

#8 Flymonkey

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 07:59 PM

After the first roast, we determined it was best to wrap the pig in chicken wire once it's on the rotisserie - it gets so tender the chicken wire will catch the tasty bits that may decide to fall off after many hours.

Shifts is a brilliant idea! Yes to squirt bottle and bourbon.....!

#9 mrg

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 09:06 PM

Ditto on the chicken wire. The advantage of keeping it above ground is that you can check the doneness, among other things, like the forementioned crispy skin. An oven is fine, but only if you have one big enough. Then there's the problem of the fat and juices over flowing your sheet pan. Oven fires are no fun. Even with a spit you'll need to watch the flames. Low and slow is the way to go.

Also ditto on the fun and bourbon.

#10 Cat Lancaster

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 10:29 PM

Damn. Pig, bourbon, and a squirt bottle. the possibilities are endless....


I assume we'll get the evites in the next week or so :ninja:

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#11 flavorcountry

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 10:45 AM

thanks for the responses. knobcreeky, where can i rent a rotisserie? and do you have a ballpark figure as to how much this will cost w/ a ~ 70 lb pig, rotisserie rental, and miscellaneous supplies? i'll keep the bourbon in a seperate budget ;)

#12 Knobcreeky

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 11:22 AM

thanks for the responses. knobcreeky, where can i rent a rotisserie? and do you have a ballpark figure as to how much this will cost w/ a ~ 70 lb pig, rotisserie rental, and miscellaneous supplies? i'll keep the bourbon in a seperate budget ;)


Most of the party rental places will have them- I think I used Portland Rent All last time. http://www.thepartyplacepdx.com/
I would shop around a little bit.
I would try to get one with a top on it to take Mother Nature out of the equation. Cold and windy can add a lot of time to the process and it provides more even heat. Make them plug the thing in and make sure it's working before you take it home (personal experience talking here).
Last time the rotis. was about $100 and the pig will be about $140. Supplies are charcoal, wire, clean gloves and a good meat thermometer. To be safe I would say $350.
Think 2 pounds per person (the pig still has bones and the head).

Regarding chicken wire- It is a good way to insure that it doesn't fall apart and into the fire but be sure you leave yourself a way to tighten it throughout the cooking process. The pig will shrink as it cooks and wind up flopping around inside the wire. You'll also need some regular wire to hook through the spine and hold the hog onto the spit. I tie the legs close to the body as well.

You will also need "gimme hats" for the cooking crew. These are cheap baseball caps with someone's logo on them that are given away. Trust me on this one.
"Shop smart- shop S-mart"- Ash

#13 Angelhair

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 11:33 AM

This looks just tasty and fun. Maybe we should consider something like this for our annual summer picnic. I don't think it would be all that expensive if we all chipped in for the pig+accoutrements.

The thing is, I wouldn't think you could do this in a public park, could you? And whole among us will offer up their yard?!

#14 SauceSupreme

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 12:59 PM

For my family's reunion in the Philippines last October, we went through no fewer than four whole roast pigs over the course of two weeks, each one four-to-five feet long. Woke up in the morning, and piggy was chained to a fence, and later than night, piggy was getting served with rice.

We've always cooked it on a rotisserie over an open fire. One of my favorite memories growing up is grabbing a piece of bronzed pork skin as it rotated and noshing away.
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#15 Leeper

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 08:56 PM

Three words - La Caja China.


La Caja China


I have a couple events this spring/summer and will be using this.

#16 Knobcreeky

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 12:12 PM

Three words - La Caja China.


La Caja China


I have a couple events this spring/summer and will be using this.

I've used one of these before and it really takes a lot of the hassle out of cooking a smaller pig. My Cuban side of the family uses them and swears by them. They are easy to transport, easy to cook with and you can throw everything from turkeys to pork shoulder to ribs in there.
The only drawbacks are you are limited in the size of pig you can roast, you can't get any smoke flavoring and the pig cooks so fast that there is no time to sit around and tell lies while sipping bourbon.
"Shop smart- shop S-mart"- Ash

#17 John J. Goddard

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 03:01 AM

i'm hoping to roast a whole pig with a bunch of friends and am looking for advice, tips, prices (specifically of the cooking setup), suggestions, stories of experience, ... anything that will help. we don't have experience with cooking whole animals other than poultry.


I've done a pig or three, but I have far more experience with lambs. I like to roast whole animals on a motorized spit. You could probably get everything you need to fabricate one for fifty bucks or less. A long, fat shovel handle works well as a spit, so long as the outstretched animal is not longer. A wee electric motor running at "Slow" can be used to turn the spit, and it seems like this forum is full of folks who probably don't need to be told how to connect a stick to a wee electric motor and make it turn. Since this is Portland, Oregon, however, it may be preferable and far more entertaining to connect the spit to a stationary bicycle. Perch an indentured vegan slave thereupon and enjoy the irony that ensues. Or have some other variety of geek or freak build a perpetual motion engine. Or connect the spit to a windmill. Be creative. Fabricating the device is half the fun.

You may want to soak the spit in water overnight, but the fire technique I now prefer affords far more control over where the heat goes (i.e. - not onto the exposed wood of the spit). You can see photos of that fire technique here:

Lamb Roast in Grabovac

Several small fires are built around the animal rather than beneath, and the embers can be moved as needed to speed or slow the cooking of any part of the meat. You have complete control of the heat, plus the drippings won't cause irritating flare-ups.

Just make sure that the fore and aft of the beast are very well secured so that it turns with the spit. You'll see in the photos I linked to that my friends in Grabovac drive a long nail through a bottlecap, the neck of the lamb, and into the spit.

Cooking a whole animal is indeed a little intimidating the first time you do it, but you'll figure it out. I'm pretty sure a pig will need to be cooked longer and slower than a lamb. Just cook it slowly, and stop cooking it when it's done.
I am executive chef of «LUKA», a series of Balkan dining events in Portland. I also write for The Farmer General and teach private cooking classes. To remain abreast of my mind’s contents or lack thereof, you may follow me on Twitter @JohnJGoddard.

#18 Will

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 07:03 AM

This looks just tasty and fun. Maybe we should consider something like this for our annual summer picnic. I don't think it would be all that expensive if we all chipped in for the pig+accoutrements.

The thing is, I wouldn't think you could do this in a public park, could you? And whole among us will offer up their yard?!


I offer.


My friends cooked up a pig in their backyard for a graduation celebration. They enclosed a space with cinder blocks and built a rebar rack. The pig was cleaned and splayed out on another rebar frame that sat on the rack, a foot or two above the coals.

Bourbon is a big part of this.

They cut down on the pig cost by finding a farm with live pigs and buying one live. I'll ask where they went.

#19 piggly_wiggly

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 03:09 PM

Three words - La Caja China.


La Caja China


I have a couple events this spring/summer and will be using this.


I've never been able to stop guzzling malta long enough to consider it's culinary applications.... Besides, Hatuey is only good for cooking (perhaps). Not drinking. Viva Malta Polar! (no bias. nah....)

#20 Jill-O

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 08:16 AM

Well, who ever thought you'd get step-by-step directions for it from the Wall Street Journal??!

WSJ Roasts a Pig
Never give up! Never surrender!