Southern Summer Cooking - Pig Roast

In New England they have clam bakes. Here in the south, we have pig (or hog) roasts. The following is a how-to-do a pig roast. If you have never eaten pork roasted outside, you don’t know what you’re missing. Try it, you’ll like it. Make it on a smaller scale if you’re too afraid to try a whole pig.

Southern Summer Cooking - Pit Roasting

Pit roasting is cooking meat in a large, level hole dug in the earth. A hardwood fire is built in the pit, requiring wood equal to about 2 1/2 times the volume of the pit.

The hardwood is allowed to burn until the wood reduces and the pit is half filled with burning coals. This can require 4 to 6 hours burning time. Cooking may require 10 to 12 hours or more and is difficult to estimate. A meat thermometer must be used to determine the meat’s safety and doneness. There are many variables such as outdoor temperature, the size and thickness of the meat, and how fast the coals are cooking.

Here is a recipe for Pit Roasting a Suckling (25 to 50 lb.) Pig Cajun Style!

Cajun Roast Pig:

Acquire a fresh, suckling pig of 25-75 pounds, dressed-out. In other words, a butchered pig with head and legs removed. Place the pig on a large flat surface (cover a workbench or truck tailgate with cardboard, etc.). Take a small axe and split the pig along its backbone in order to make it lie flat. Be careful not to cut so deep that you break it in half.
With a sharp carving knife, cut slits approximately one inch long and 1-2 inches deep over the entire side of pork. Put them 3-5 inches apart. Now, insert peeled pieces of garlic cloves in each slit.

Using a large ice chest or pan, put the pig in a marinating sauce prepared to your own taste. Use lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Cajun Style Seasoning, wine vinegar, chopped onion, celery, garlic salt, and chopped parsley. Place in the refrigerator and marinate for at least 24 hours.

When you’re ready to begin cooking, remove the pig from the marinade and rub plenty of black pepper and celery salt into the surface of the skin and precut slits. Discard marinade or boil for five minutes to use as a dipping sauce.

The best apparatus for cooking can be created using two sections of clean, and un-rusted, reinforcing wire (the mesh type used in concrete construction). Center the pig on one piece and lay the other over it. Tie all four sides together firmly using strong wire. Attach an “S” hoop to the top and bottom of the roasting rack. To hang your rack use any metal crossbar set-up you can create. Keep in mind you’ll have a fairly intense fire beneath this. Many “modern day” Cajuns find that an old metal swing set serves well. Rig up a pair of chains to enable you to hang your rack (rotisserie style) and keep it suspended over the fire.

Next, dig a trench about 2 feet deep, 3 feet wide and 4 feet long to serve as a fire pit. Use oak mixed with pecan and/or other light wood and build your fire in the pit. Build a low wall encircling the pit with concrete blocks or bricks. Lay sheet metal or tin against this wall and down the sides of the fire pit.

Start your fire and keep the wood stacked-up about 1-1/2 to 2 feet high throughout the cooking process. Turn the roasting rack about every half hour. If possible, place some wet hickory chips on your fire towards the end of the cooking (usually 4 to 5-1/2 hours) to add a good smoked flavor. Total cooking time with vary according to weight of the pig, but you should allow 6 - 7 hours for a 25 - 50 pound pig, and 8 - 9 hours for a 50 - 75 pound one. The grease will stop dripping and the skin becomes golden brown when the pig is completely cooked.

The idea behind this Cajun pig roast is to use a suckling (young) pig to get the finest pork flavor. Many Cajuns consider the cracklin’ skin the best part. To get the skin croquant (crispy) the true connoisseur will build a very intense fire, and bring up a strong flame, just before the pig is going to come off the fire. It is best to recruit some assistance and lower the roasting rack over the flame. This will give you a cracklin’ skin guaranteed to be some good! When you hear the last of the grease popping, bubbles will rise on the skin, and it’s time to turn over the pig and put the other side over the flame.

Take the rack away from the fire and lay it on a clean flat surface for a few minutes. Call the guests to gather around and begin to carve some delicious meat!

Serve with any normal barbeque side dishes (baked beans, potato or macaroni salad, coleslaw, etc).

Serves 25-50 people depending on how hungry they are!

Cajun tradition has it that while the men are cooking outdoors, the women are making the side dishes indoors.