Update: Pig-a-palooza 2010

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I volunteered to help with the cooking at a local fund raiser.  The main course was to be a whole hog, but there were also plenty of pork butts & ribs to cook too.

We convened on the cooking site at 3:00pm on Friday and began preparing the rotissiere/spit that we would use to cook the hog.  Now, I’d never done a whole hog before but one of the volunteers was experienced with the process so he took the lead.

We prepped the hog, got it mounted on the spit, and had the first coals under the 159 lb. guest of honor shortly before 6:00pm.  We had a large trailer-mounted pit that we used for the ongoing process of lighting fresh coals and readying them for shoveling under the spit.

We decided that we’d use my Backwoods Fatboy to cook the butts and ribs.  We picked up my cooker and had 12 boneless pork butts (~60 lbs.) on by 9:00pm.  That would allow us to get the butts done and the ribs started early in the morning and hopefully have things finishing up by the noon serving time.

It was all revelry and good times early on, but slowly the observers drifted off to their homes for a comfortable night’s rest as the night wore on.  By 1:00am we were down to three guys who were committed to the process and whatever outcome morning would bring.  We had one close call around that same time.  We hadn’t anticipated that the hog would shrink as much as it did, and we had to readjust the clamps that held it on the spit to keep it from flopping around and coming apart.

The hog finished up around 7:00am, about the same time that we began taking pork butts off of the Fatboy and started putting the ribs on.  We had the hog picked by 8:00 or so.  We kept it in pans on the pit we used for charcoal starting and waited for lunchtime.

Once we pulled the pork butts and began to serve lunch, it became clear to us that the pulled pork butts were much tastier than the whole hog.  Over the course of the afternoon, we served all the pulled pork and the ribs.  We only served about half of the pickings from the whole hog.

So here are a couple of observations about my first time doing a whole hog.

  • I don’t care for it.  There’s so much of it and no real good way to season it, so it ends up tasting mosly like pork roast.
  • I think we cooked it too fast early on.  The pit that we rented for the event had no thermometer, so we were cooking by feel.  I think we should have started at a lower temp.
  • Doing a whole hog is really all about the process and presentation.  For pure eating pleasure, I think the pulled pork and ribs were much better.

After tending the pits for 23 straight hours, I’m beat.  But I do feel a sense of satisfaction and pride when I see folks’ reaction to our efforts.

Additionally, we helped a great cause.  I hope the whole event was successful enough to warrant doing it again next year, cause I had a blast.

Cheers,
Braddog

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