Once upon a time, I orchestrated the roasting of a pig. In hindsight, it was a much more grandiose endeavor than originally anticipated. There were quite a few tribulations, including a tornado warning. But hell, it was worth it, and I plan to do it many more times.
I got knocked down to size, and learned a few lessons in the process. It was by no means a failure, but there were some things that will be done very differently the next time Wilbur gets splayed over the coals. So here are some common mistakes in pig roasting, for when you graduate from shoulder to entire beast.
Here’s what not to do when roasting a pig.
Wait until the last minute
This is the case with anything, but couldn’t be more true when firing up a hog. First, you have to order it. Both a butcher, or a pig farm, need notice to ship or slaughter. Depending on where you get it, the pig could arrive frozen and, like a turkey, will need to defrost for up to 3 days before the roast. It’s also a good idea to flavor the thing. If you choose to brine, it will need to marinate for at least 24 hours before cooking to penetrate the meat.
Then there is your cooking mechanism. Just about any method you choose (hole, spit, grill), preparation, tools, and materials will be needed. You may need plans, and diagrams. Pigs can be up to 160lbs. You want to make sure that your chosen apparatus will hold that kind of weight. If you are plopping it in a hole like the Hawaiians, the coals have to burn for up to 10 hours before the pig can even go in the ground.
Make the heat too high
Big mistake. One we unfortunately experienced to due to a lack of communication. No matter your method, low and slow is your best bet. Otherwise you’ll be left with burnt skin and dry meat. No bueno. Luckily, we were able to remedy the problem halfway through cooking, but the skin was already toast. For grilling or spit, I recommend having a second fire where you keep a stock of hot coals so you can replenish the pit as needed. Do NOT put all your coals in the fire at the beginning, like we did. Ahem.
Don’t check the weather
Yeah, we checked the weather many times. This was one of the few things we did right. But no matter how many times we looked at the radar, that did not spare us the torrential tornado-filled thunderstorm that hit right when the pig was supposed to go on the fire. We were prepared, however, and set up a large tailgating-style tent over the pit that worked just fine. The tent did not save us from getting soaked when running from the house to the pig for periodic checks.
Do it alone
No man is an island. And no man can roast a pig alone, and why would you want to. Employ your friends early to help you source materials for the big event. Make it a group effort and the ‘team’ over early on pig roasting day, if not the night before to help set up the pit, brine the pig, make sauce, etc. You want to enjoy this day, don’t you?
Because no good deed goes unnoticed, I’d like to thank all of those lovely people who helped me out during the piggy event. Also, the Three Guys from Miami who supplied the idea and tutorials for the grill pit we used. It was perfection, and comes highly recommend from me and a host of others. Take a look-see before your roast.