How to Cook Whole Hogs – step-by-step process of a whole hog pig roast
Have the slaughter-house clean the hog but have them leave on the head, all feet, and tail (a cap goes on the tail.) Also tell them not to damage the ears (some slaughter-houses think they have to suspend the hog by grabbing them with some sort of hanging device around the base of the ears, but we have found that they can do this without harming the ears.) Also, if you can remember, have them prop the mouth open with a stick because an Apple must go in the mouth, and most humans are not strong enough to open the mouth for this purpose.
Hogs in the weight range of 8O-12O pounds dressed (where dressed means a hog that has been cleaned but has the head, feet, and tail attached.) usually cook best. We’ve cooked hogs as large as 396 pounds dressed, but we don’t recommend it. The amount of meat per person will depend on the group. An all-men group will consume a good bit more than a mixed group, particularly if the people in the mixed group have never attended one of these. If they have attended one previously and found that the hog didn’t kill ’em, then they will eat more.
We suggest one pound of dressed hog per person.
We do not dig a What is a Pit in terms of BBQ or Grilling Meat Refers to a hole or pit in the ground where... in Mississippi due to the clay. Build a pit of concrete blocks two blocks high, five blocks long, and three blocks wide (for one hog) on flat ground or slightly sloping ground which will help drain the grease away. This takes a total of 32 blocks. If you are short a few blocks, you can get by with 28 blocks by making the pit four blocks long.
Line the bottom of the pit with freezer foil, not regular aluminum foil as it is too thin.
Spread out a few bricks (five or six) in the bottom of the pit.
Place a fine steel grate (or fine wire mesh) on the bricks in the bottom of the pit. This will prevent large grease fires if you pay attention and immediately put out the small fires which start when grease drops down on the hot coals. (Doss likes to use a Water (squirt) bottle for this.
I think that’s cheatin’ and should be done by using the small coal shovel to spread the coals away from the small fires.)
Place the rods across the top of the blocks with another piece of fine steel grate on top of the rods. The hog will go on top of this grate. (Actually we now use a steel grate that has long lengths of small sized angle-iron down each side that reaches across the pit and the hog goes directly on this grate.)
When the hog arrives, start four or five pounds of charcoal in the charcoal cooker.
This cooker is used only to get the coals ready to place under the hog.
To prepare the hog do the following: Rip-out the kidneys and any extra tubes, etc. (like the aorta) that the hawg will no longer need. Take the single bladed ax and hammer and start splitting the backbone so the hawg will lay flat on the grate. (This method of cookin’ is called Butterfly cookin’, so you want to open him up so he will lay-out (like a flyin’ squirrel).) DO NOT CUT THROUGH THE SKIN or you will have BIG-TIME problems later on. In fact, don’t cut the skin in any way, or poke any holes in the skin. After you get the hawg laid-out, the Apple is next. Have your stoutest guy or gal pull the mouth open and stick an Apple in it. I have seen this done once. If you have no Paul Bunyan around, use item 11 in the equipment list. The Apple is necessary because he will bite the Apple when he is done.
After the hog is prepared, lay him belly down on the grate. Place a nice hat on his head between his ears, shades on his eyes, and an Ole Miss baseball cap on his rear end. The hog won’t cook without these items.
Now take pictures with the bosses up front and the real workers in the rear, or better yet with the real workers not even in the picture. The reason for the pictures is that all night long you will swear you are getting nowhere in cookin’ this hog, but 24 hours later you can prove you started with a raw hog. The reason for the bosses being up front is because they will be there anyway. besides, this may encourage them to pay for everything, and they are of no use for anything else anyway.
You are ready to start cookin` now. Use the small coal shovel to place 2 to 3 coals under each ham and each shoulder.
NO MORE COALS THAN THIS!
You will now start getting verbal abuse about how the hog won’t cook, it will be raw, any fool would know better, etc, etc. Tell them fine, they don’t have to eat any of it tomorrow. Then replenish the charcoals you took out of the charcoal cooker and head for the beer cooler. (You only have to start the charcoal once. After the first time, simply spread the hot charcoal out so that when the charcoal gets hot, it is about time to put more coals under the hawg. I would guess this works out to be about every 3O to 4O minutes. More on this in instruction number 16 below.)
Say you want to eat the hog(s) at 5 P.M. on a Saturday. (All that follows relative to time will be based on this assumed eating time. For any other eating time apply a suitable forward or backward shift operator.) We usually pick the hog up and get him to the site by at least 4 P.M. on Friday. You should be able to get him stated cookin’ by 4:3O or 5:OO P.M. on Friday. The hog is to be turned over only once. He will probably need to be turned over on his back between 8 A.M. and 1O A.M. on Saturday at that “moment-of-perfection,” and I don’t know how to describe to you what that “moment-of-perfection” is, so just turn him at 9:41 A.M. on Saturday.
After starting the hog at 5 P.M. on Friday, continue cookin’ him by adding coals now and then. You can leave him uncovered on the pit for viewing until around 10 P.M. Friday night. Then you need to cover him. Cover him first with one piece of sheet iron that:
DOES NOT TOUCH THE HOG ANYWHERE EXCEPT THE FEET AND EARS.
We use a special piece of bent sheet iron that does not touch the hog. Over this sheet iron place a small tarp that covers the pit. This is essentially our cooking oven.
The rate at which coals are applied comes, I suppose, from experience. For the entire 24 hours of cooking, you should use slightly less than one pound of charcoal per pound of hog. For example, for a 1OO pound dressed hog (including head and feet), we would buy 1OO pounds of charcoal, but we would probably only use around 😯 to 9O pounds of charcoal. The key to cookin’ is to START SLOW and don’t ever get much faster. Just be PERSISTENT. It is a low-temperature/long-duration cooking process. Every time one of our cookers have described to someone else how to cook a hog, they usually cook too fast and ruin the hog.
After the hog is turned over, grease will drip, or even run at times, so one should not put the coals where the grease drips. (Actually it will begin dripping long before it’s turned but the greatest danger of significant grease fires occurs after turning.) We usually place the coals more around the edges after turning. This will not hurt the cooking rate because the sheet iron and tarp will be like an oven. This locating of hot coals is, of course, to prevent grease fires. We have never had a large grease fire since we started using the raised steel grate on the bottom of the pit. Before the use of the steel grate we had some big-time grease fires that even Ward would love.
Also after the hog is turned you should baste (or pour) barbecue sauce and gravy are terms that are often used interchangeably, although i use the words for different purposes usually thicker than... on the bottom side of the hog which is now turned up. This doesn’t get any barbecue flavor into the meat, it only keeps the meat from getting dry on this side, so any kind of Sauce will do. We usually serve the barbecue Sauce on the side, so that people can have hot, or mild, or whatever they want, or whatever you have to offer. Repeat this basting every couple of hours.
When the hog is done (by definition he is done at 5 P.M., and at this time he will bite the Apple in two) pick him up by using the rods or sucker rod grate and move him to a place in the food line on the saw horses. Use two cutters, or pullers, on either side of the hog. The best thing to do if the hog is cooked properly is for these pullers to put on the rubber gloves (the thicker the glove the better because the meat will be hot) and simply pull the meat off and pull it apart. Do not use swine experts or veterinarians for this, as they don’t seem to know the difference between a ham and a tenderloin. Be careful to not break the skin, the grease (which you will not notice dripping through) can ruin a good pair of Justin boots in no time.