1- Build a wind screen for three sides
2- Make sure the pigs belly and top can open up to allow heat to get in
3- Use 18 or so bags of charcoal before noon after 7 hours of cooking (use of charcoal is a measure of fire heat).
Getting the PigWe have had our best luck getting our pigs from:
Stehlin's Meat Market
10134 Colerain Ave.
You could also try:
Wassler Meat Specialist
4300 Harrison Ave.
Arraignments should be made for the pig at least 1 month in advance and it should be picked up the day before the roast thus no storage problem. However, in an emergency such as unexpected rain, the pig can be stored for a couple of days by wrapping in plastic and blankets with bags of ice.
We usually get a 170-200 lb. pig to feed 100 hungry people. The skin is left on and the pig should be spilt partially up the back but only to the neck. The head is left intact. It is usually best to have the butcher remove the eyes. Cost of a 170 lb. pig in 1989 was $262.35.
It is best to pick up the pig the afternoon of the day before the roast and mount on the spit the night before. The first step is to determine where on the pig-spit-pole the pig should be located. Usually the pig is placed in the center of the pole but you must check the pit, stand and motor set up to make sure it all fits together. To mount the pig, first open up the split carcass and cut out the tongue, and anything else needed to enlarge the throat so you can push/drive/sledge the spit pole through jaw. After this is done you must arrange and balance the pig along the pole so the motor can easily turn the spit. The pig is then mounted to the pole by driving the mounting rods through knife-cut holes in the pig and through the holes in the pole. Secure the pig to the pole with heavy iron wire 18 or 16 gauge, some times called "stove-pipe-wire". This wire is used so when the pig shrinks during roasting it can be twisted tighter with long handled pliers. The balance is important so the motor will be able to turn the spit. If you find the balance is bad or goes bad during roasting weights can be added. Put the threaded rod through the proper holes on the end of the spit and by using the washers, weights and nuts you can rebalance the spit.
When the pig is mounted, wrap it in plastic with 1-2 bags of ice, place it on the concrete floor of an enclosed garage and cover it with blankets to keep it cool. Note: you must protect it from dogs, coons and other animals.
Setting up the Roaster/spitHole
The pit for the charcoal should be dug the day before the roast and covered with plastic to keep dry. The hole should be 4-6 inches deep and about 3 to 4 feet wide and about 2 feet longer then the pig but not so long that the pole setup won't fit. Also set up the roaster end stands with the pig pole and maybe motor drive so that you can determine if every thing will fit. Check to see if the pig pole is level, If not level with motor turning it will tend to drift to the lowest stand and this can become an "excruciating pain in the posterior" because you will constantly need to move the HOT pole back into its proper position. Cover the pig pole stands in front with aluminum foil to prevent charring from the initial very hot fire.
In the morning the plastic should be removed about 1 hour before the pig goes on. At the same time you remove the plastic, line the hole with heavy-duty aluminum (reflects heat up). Then add 4 to 6 bags of charcoal with 1 pint or so of lighter fluid and light. The flames should go down in about an hour and be ready for the pig. The pig will drip fat so it is best to have the charcoal piled in two lines on each side of the spit and leave the center empty for the fat to drop in. As the coals flame up, squirt them out with water. The kids around like to do this. Be careful not to over wet or cool the fire too far or the pig won't cook. Don't be too worried about surface charring because it's only the skin that burns and we don't eat that.
Roaster and Spit set up
It is probably best to set up the pig roaster stands, etc. the night before to check out the arrangements, distance between stands and the motor function etc. It is best to have the stands about one foot from each end of the pit but this is not always possible due to the pig's size. Also, it would be good to have pieces of Teflon or leather soaked in vegetable oil to act as a bearing lubricating the pole as it turns on the bolts. This will reduce the motor load. You will need a very heavy-duty extension cord, #14 wire for 100 feet or so. The load on the motor is high depending on how well the pig is balanced. The balance of the pig on the spit will change as the pig cooks because it changes shape as it shrinks, looses water and fat.
The stands and motor should be anchored with stakes 2x2x12". The motor distance must be variable because as the pig cooks you will need to raise it away from the heat and the distances will change.
To prevent the stands from charring/burning it is best to cover the front of the stands with aluminum foil.
Also in case of RAIN you will need to erect a 8 ft 2x4 at each end of the with an other 2x4 across the top to hold plastic in case of rain. You can cancel the roast if rain is predicted but you can't cancel if there is a chance of a short thunderstorm. A thunderstorm won't hurt the roast but the pig fire must be covered.
The Aluminum reflectors should be mounted on the 2x4 and adjusted so that they will cover the pig and reflect the heat back down to the pig.
Cooking The PigThere is NO WAY you will be able to cook the pig so completely as to not find any "PINK" meat in the joints. Just don't serve this or reheat it in the microwave or a hot fry pan on the fire. The pig has been purchased through an FDA approved source so it is safe, i.e. Trichinosis free.
Put the spit on the fire with the pig and cook initially about 12 to 18" from the ground/coals with turning with the top reflector in place. A 200 lb. pig cooks in about 6 to 8 hours, and a 150 lb. will cook in about 5 to 6 hours depending on how hot your fire is. It is best to cook it rapidly and then hold it under low heat for about 1 to 2 hours before carving by raising the spit pole up.
The pig is done or cooked when a meat thermometer reads about 150-170'F in the center of the thickest parts. A 140'F reading is OK in the thicker joints but it still will be pink in the joints but you can reheat these parts. We shoot for about 150'F and then cut back on the heat and hold for a couple of hours. Note: use two thermometers Meat thermometers are notorious for being incorrect. Another way is to stop the spit and stick a thin knife into a joint for 10-20 sec. Take out the knife and quickly and carefully touch your lips. The tip of the knife should feel warm. It will never feel too hot because if these joints get too hot the pig will be over cooked and fall off the spit. It's hard to over cook a pig by this method but you can dry it out so you need to baste it well with vinegar. Vinegar is good because the acid pH reduces browning, cuts the fat and is volatile so there is not build up as you get with salt and barbecue sauce.
Carving (Butchering) the PigThere is no good way to carve up the pig!
It is best to allow the pig to cool/equilibrate slightly, before carving. This can be done by removing the pig and the stands from the fire and reset it up away from the pit. This can also be done by raising the pig up on the stands and spreading out the coals to let the pit cool.
To begin butchering first remove the pig and pole to a "Carving Table" where the pole and wire are CAREFULLY removed. The wire should be put in the garbage to keep it away from lawn mowers.
The initial carving step is to free large chunks of meat from the bones and the fat. These chunks are then passed over to a second table were it is sliced into small slices or chunks and placed on platters for consumption. It would be helpful to have some new/washed cotton gloves for the carvers, to protect their hands as they cut up the hot pig. The first objective is to cut up the hams and shoulders then the ribs and loin can be freed.
The chunks are passed on to the "Slicing Table" were they are sliced into slices and small cubes and placed on platters to be served. Some of the small cubes can be dumped into a bowl containing barbecue sauce. This gives a scoupable product that can be put on bread or eaten with a spoon.
The best piece to save for later is the loin that lies along the backbone. This freezes well and can be given to those who can't attend. The bones make good soup if people want them.
Equipment neededPig Spit
Stands -- two, with wood top block and bolt to carry the pole with some oiled cloth or leather to act as a bearing.
Pig pole -- with holes and 5 cross rods that fit through the pole holes to wire pig to and a threaded rod to hold a counter weight, if needed to balance the pig.
15 Texas shingle nails -- to drive into the thicker parts of large pigs to carry in the heat.
Electric Power extension cord -- #14 or better for the motor.
Pig roaster motor and bicycle chains hook up
Vegetable Oil or Crisco -- with leather or plastic or Teflon to lubricate the spit.
Charcoal -- 20 20lb. of "quality" charcoal, 20-25 bags of cheap stuff
Vinegar -- 1 gal to baste pig as a 50% solution in a hose sprayer
Barbecue sauce -- homemade or Kraft is good, Mix 50/50 with beer, if you need to coat the pig on the spit. However, this is not recommended because it all comes off with the skin and makes a big mess for those who do the carving.
Aluminum Foil Heavy duty -- Sam's has excellent price
Garbage Bags -- Heavy duty to collect up the garbage at the end.
Plastic tarps -- to cover pig butchering table and pig meat slicing table.
Plastic bags -- for extra meat
Pliers -- To cut the wire and to twist/tighten the wire holding the pig on the spit.
Bowls and meat platters -- Two roasters one with lid, 1 metal 11x14 pan, 2 metal forks, 1 tongs, 2 thermometers instant do not leave in pig, 20 plastic serving spoons, 7 white apron Chefs Hat, 1 Sprayer for vinegar, 2 knives, Gloves to handle hot spit
Cooking cornOn the fire coals.
Soak the corn in the husk in water 2-4 hours then lie on the hot coals and let it steam in the husks. Takes 20- 40 min. Must check periodically.
Boiling the easy way
In a large kettle, heat the water to a boil, add dehusked corn and continue to heat until the boil returns. Remove kettle from heat and hold 10-20 mins. Corn will cook till done and will hold for about 1 hour or till the water cools. Then its cold but still good.