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Smoking/Roasting A Whole Pig

November 14, 2012

Some weeks ago Alexandra got it into her head that we needed to cook a whole pig.  Where this idea came from, I do not know.  But when your wife gives you permission to make like a caveman and cook an entire animal whole, you don’t ask too many questions lest she figures out how insane this is.

After doing much internet research I came to two conclusions: 1) I needed to build a smoker, and 2) This was going to be awesome!

So, a couple weekends ago I built a smoker, unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures so you will have to see it later.  Now, just to clarify, using the words “built” and “smoker” are stretching the strict definitions of those words.  Basically our smoker consisted of some cinder blocks in a ring and some rebar and welded wire to make a grill surface and some aluminum foil over more welded wire to make a top.  Not super sophisticated, but then again neither is attempting to ingest an entire pig…

Anyway, we ordered our hog from a cool butcher store and they said it would be slaughtered in Bakersfield and sent down so we could pick it up for our party.  In my internet research I found a general consensus that brining was a pretty good idea.  This led to the discussion of, how exactly does one brine and store at safe temperatures a carcass of the approximate size and weight of an ten year old child.  The answer is of course, your friend’s chest freezer.  So, Saturday morning we picked up our pig and went over to our friend’s house to prep the pig by cleaning out anything we didn’t want to eat, then putting it in some garbage bags and loading it into his freezer (set warm enough not to freeze) and then pouring about 5 gallons of brine in after it.

Sunday morning we picked our pig up and amazingly managed to not even make a horrible mess out of our friend’s freezer in the process.  We brought the pig to our house and give it a thorough coating of dry rub on the inside and a nice bacon drippings rub down on the outside to get it nice and crispy and brown (sidenote: pig skin feels a little bit too much like human skin to do this and keep your sanity, thankfully I had already lost mine after buying a wreck of house.  For the rest of you, maybe just use spray cooking oil.).
A fire was lit in the smoker and the pig was settled in for a long day of cooking while I mixed myself the first of many bloody marys in an attempt to try to forget the aforementioned bacon grease rub down.

Ten hours and an empty bottle of vodka later the pig was getting on towards done, and hungry people were starting to show up.

We pulled the top off the smoker to take a look and a quick picture.  Below, you can kind of see the basic smoker set up.  A ring of cinder blocks filled with dirt, one end of which had the fire in it and channel dug under for air to feed the fire, then the pig on a rack at the other end (rotated 90 degrees from how it is sitting in the picture).

The pig read between 190 and 170 depending on where you put a thermometer so it was declared done.  We broke the pig down and started serving it up.

Sadly after this the party kind of deteriorated into festival of porcine hedonism so not many more pictures were taken.  But needless to say, the pork was absolutely delicious and I think judging from how little meat was leftover people enjoyed it thoroughly.

By the end of the night I was pretty much left with a pig head and spine (minus ears and cheeks), a couple ribs and about a pound of pulled pork.  Considering there were only about 25 people and we started with a 60 pound pig, I was quite proud (as long as we ignore the footwear, but I had been drinking all day remember!).

Anyway… so there went another weekend out the window without a whole lot of measurable progress on the house, but at least as far as weekends go, this one was pretty fun.  Oh yeah, also our neighbors set the back of our property on fire, there were helicopters, bemused firemen, and thankfully no damage.

In halal/kosher news this last weekend we did make minor progress on the front pillars, they are now primed; and I also patched a hole in the front bedroom closet floor where an old vent stack used to be.  Hopefully next weekend the front pillars might actually finally get done!  Stay tuned.

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