How to throw your own pig roast

June 22, 2011

I've been getting a lot of email requests lately, asking how people can throw their own pig roast. I just realized with July 4th weekend ahead, everyone wants to have their own "Pig & Pinot" party like I've been doing the past five years. Your prayers are answered today, loyal reader. Just don't tell my mother that I'm dispensing this kind of advice. She didn't raise her boy to cook trayf - at least that wasn't her intention.

You can find pig roasting boxes at www.lacajachina.com

Recipe for a back-alley pig roast:

I recommend brining the pig for at least a day or two.  You can do this in a large Coleman cooler (150 qt).  For every gallon of water you will need:

  • 1 cup salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp cumin seed
  • 2 bay leaves

For a 60 pound pig, it needed about 15 gallons of water to cover it.  You could also throw in other spices, apple cider vinegar, etc.  There are no hard rules here.

1. Get pig from either Birky Family Farm in Valpo, or Peoria Packing on Lake St.  Make sure you get it: dressed (gutted), skin-on, scalded and head and trotters intact

2.  Two days before the roast: fill a large, insulated cooler with enough brine solution so that it will cover pig once the pig is placed inside (at least 15 gallons of water); It's important that the first gallon or so is warm/hot water, so the salt and sugar will dissolve.  After it dissolves, continue adding cold water into the cooler.  Place the pig into the brine solution, toss a few bags of ice on it, and change/add new bags after 24 hours.

3. On the morning of the roast, remove pig to table (outside) and begin making tiny slits everywhere, stuffing with raw garlic cloves.  We used about about three or four heads of garlic.

4. Meanwhile, put 8-10 pounds of charcoal (not hardwood) onto top of Caja China box lid, flood with lighter fluid and ignite.  

4.  Apply Jerk Marinade (recipe below), rubbing it into every possible crevice

5.  Place pig between holding racks that came with La Caja China box to secure it, making sure the pig is butterflied; place pig into box, skin side DOWN over drip tray.  Insert meat thermometer (also available from La Caja China website), close lid, start the clock. (Note: the roasting instructions that follow are also printed on the side of the Caja China box).

After one hour, add another 8-10 pounds of charcoal, spread evenly

After two hours, add another 8-10 pounds of charcoal, spread evenly
(Be sure to keep an eye on the internal temperature.  I usually flip the pig over at 140 degrees internal temp, but your cooking times may vary, depending on the heat and the size of the pig).

After another 30 minutes add another 8 pounds of charcoal, spread evenly

At the three hour mark, remove the ash from the top of the box (we put it into a mini-garbage can); open up the box and flip the pig over, skin side UP.  Cover again and add about 8 pounds of charcoal.

At three-and-a-half hours, check the skin to see if it's crispy enough.  Keep checking in ten-minute intervals until skin is crispy to your liking (you can also move the lid of the box slightly ajar, if the pig is cooking too much.  Keep an eye on the thermometer; once you reach 145 internally, you'll want to pull it out, as it will continue to cook long after it's removed.

No need to let it rest very long, maybe 15 minutes.  Put on gloves and begin picking/shredding/pulling the pork.

Jerk Wet Rub for Pig (courtesy Rick Cooper and chef Susan Goss, West Town Tavern):

  • ¾ cup                           bottled hot sauce
  • 1/2cup                          picked rosemary
  • ½ cup                           chopped parsley
  • ½ cup                           chopped basil
  • ½ cup                           picked thyme
  • ¼ cup                           coarsely ground mustard seeds
  • 1 cup                            chopped scallions
  • 1 Tablespoon                 kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon                 ground black pepper
  • ½ cup                           fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup                           Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup                           fresh orange juice
  • 1 Tablespoon                ground cumin
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon            ground allspice
  • ¾ teaspoon                  red chile flakes
  • 1 cup                           canola oil
  • 1 quart                         strong pork stock (or low-sodium chicken stock)

Combine all ingredients except oil and stock in blender and puree to a paste. Add oil slowly through the feed tube and process mixture into smooth sauce consistency. Slowly pour stock through feed tube (if blender is too small to accommodate stock, scrape mixture into bowl and whisk in stock.)

Let mixture age overnight if possible to allow flavors to blend and mellow.  Rub it all over the piggy (don't forget behind the ears!!)