(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please

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mayor al
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2010/03/07 19:02:58 (permalink)

(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please

OK, Friends and Others, Don't start packing your bags for the Trip yet !!
 
My neighbor and I are considering doing a Pit-Cooked Whole Hog  for a Family gathering later this Spring, or maybe the 4th of July.  We need suggestions and tips from those who have done a 'PIG ROAST' (In-Ground Style). We are considering using a 100-125 lb Hog (dressed weight).
 
My neighbor has access to a BIG bunch of Banana Leaves and gunny sacks for covering the pit. We also have a ton (plus a lot) of Hickory wood and a bunch of fruit tree trimmings from our winter pruning so fuel won't be an issue either.
 
Using my side-fueled Brinkman smoker is not an option for this exercise !
 
I have a ton of questions for anyone who has done this themselves before.
 
Among my questions-
 How big a hole?
 How much wood to burn to get the job done without uncovering the Hog early?
 Rubs or No-Rubs?   Skinned or Keep the Skin on?
 Stuffing or no? If Yes, What to use?
 Timing segments?
 
I am sure more will come to mind as soon as I post this. If it doesn't draw answers here I will move the thread to the Recipe Forum.
#1

24 Replies Related Threads

    UncleVic
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/07 20:34:19 (permalink)
    Are you doing a cold smoke style method, or just an in ground pit there?

    #2
    Rick F.
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/07 21:10:41 (permalink)
    Mr. Mayor,

    I have a friend who's done whole-hog roasts. Mark built a cinder-block rectangle about four feet high and made a rack to hold the pig, He builds the fire and lets it burn down until there are no flames, then puts the rack and pig over the coals. I don't know what he covers it with. He leaves the skin on and butterflies the pig, laying it on its back and letting the skin catch the juice. He couldn't use stuffing, and I don't think he uses a rub.

    When the pig is done someone carves it and lets people serve themselves.
    #3
    the grillman
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/07 21:16:45 (permalink)
    I've assisted with this process a few times at pig roasts, but I wasn't the main cook.  I do recall that the skin is definitely left on, and seasoning consists mainly of salt and pepper; occasionally garlic salt.  No stuffing.  The timing depends upon your method and how hot the coals are; this type of cooking is definitely an art!
    #4
    mayor al
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/07 21:19:32 (permalink)
    Thanks Rick. (and Vic). We will hold the cinder block walled pit for the situation that will arise if we fail to get enough info about the "Hawaiian Style" Buried in the Ground cooking technique.  There are a number of 'Whole Hog Trailer Mounted Roasters" in this area that we could hire to do the job...but he and I both got a 'Wild Hair' about doing this one "Our Way".
     
    Grillman, It's been many years since I attended several Luau-style dinners in Hawaii (early 1960's) so my memory of how it was done is pretty faded !
    post edited by mayor al - 2010/03/07 21:22:29
    #5
    KonaErnie
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/07 21:29:29 (permalink)
    Al...this will give you a pretty good viusal of what's involved cooking a pig in an imu (Hawaiian underground oven). Not a very complicated process but it does some time and effort to do it right. Well worth the effort. Besides the pig you can also throw in a turkey or some chickens and freeze it for future use. 

    Hawaiian style
    #6
    mayor al
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/07 23:21:17 (permalink)
    That's the idea !!  Keep tossing out the ideas !!
    #7
    MikeS.
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/07 23:42:47 (permalink)
    I wanna go to BellyAcres! Maybe I'll goto Al's instead??? :)
    #8
    enginecapt
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/08 00:03:34 (permalink)
    We never did the whole hog in one piece. We'd cut it up into multipe packages, season the meat in garlic salt, pepper and dump fresh pico de gallo salsa all over everything, then wrap the packages in heavy foil. We would then wrap those in wet cotton sheets and bury them in the pit all night and part of the day.

    The result was moist, tender porky salsa-ey goodness. The resulting juices made good rice topping.
    #9
    6star
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/08 00:20:34 (permalink)
    YouTube 5 1/2 minute video (including prep & shopping list):
     
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98ZKkXkJtKA
    #10
    Davydd
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/08 10:51:27 (permalink)
    I've been to several pig roasts where it was done in pits two different ways or in home manufactured smokers. The smokers seem more commercial because they come as rentals or an owner with a specific his way method. The pit is more ritual. Dig a pit and line it with charcoal. The heat thus radiates in a half oval. I've seen it done these two ways. Wrap the whole pig in foil and drop it on the coals sort of like that Hawaiian method with the banana leaves, or use a hand crank low to the ground spit. I prefer the spit. With the spit the pig is visible and you take an active role in turning it. That is kind of the ceremony of roasting a whole pig not only for the cooks but for the guest to observe as well. I've been mostly an observer and not a primary participant. I'm sure you can find more detailed instructions on the internet than just this general description.
    #11
    chewingthefat
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/08 12:45:10 (permalink)
    Al,did one in the sand, years ago in Playa del Rey, Cal. The hole was at least 3-4 feet deep, 5 feet by 4 feet minimum, all the banana leaves, etc, that you mentioned. we didn't stuff it but done again I would with spicy sausage, we didnt rub it, at least the skin which we left on, the rub isn't going to go thru the pig skin, an interior rub would be good though, but if you use a spiced sausage for stuffing, that should be plenty. we cooked that bad boy for about 24 beers, or all night, closer to 18 hours, there are no second chanches to getting it right , when buried.
    Al, have a ball, it was a total hoot, and delicious... difficult to overcook where it is too dry, if you have it down for 14- 18 hours... put a light gatlic rub on the skin when dug up, crunchy garlicky pigskin, MMMMMMM! As an afterthought, you might want to wrap some whole pineapples, and add them to the mix, on top of the hog.
    #12
    Foodbme
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/08 17:09:00 (permalink)
    I Googled "Roasting a Pig in the Ground" and a bunce of stuff popped up. Here's one of them:
    http://bbq.about.com/od/barbecuehelp/a/aa061006a.htm
    #13
    Trask
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/08 17:49:46 (permalink)
    Al,
    I've helped and done my own pig-in-the-ground cook several times. On the beach with sand (easier) and on soil. I'll try to answer your questions as you have listed them.
     
    How big a hole? - Let's say if your pig is 4 foot long, make the pit about 5 foot by 8 foot with sloping sides and about 3 foot deep. keep in mind you are building a fire in order to heat rocks onto which you will set your pig. Besides a good supply of seasoned wood, you should have enough good rocks (not soft sandstone) that are softball to football size and will more than cover an area as large as the pig. Place you wood in the pit keeping spaces for good airflow. Stack the wood up so you get good draft and a complete burn. Several wheelbarrow loads of dry wood should do. Set the rocks on the wood before lighting. The idea is to burn all the wood to get a solid layer of rocks red/white hot. Remove any unburned wood especially conifer to help eliminate off taste.
    Leave the skin on. We only rubbed some oil and salt on the skin. We did stuff one with success. Regular old bread stuffing like you put in a turkey was good.
     
    We layed the pig on its back directly on the hot rocks. We also used chicken wire to wrap/support the pig and found this very useful when removing the pig from the fire later on. Use the banana leaves to cover the pig or use heavy duty foil. A wet canvas tarp was used to cover the whole pig (care not to use plastic or contaminated materials) and then cover the whole thing with the sand or soil from the hole. You should feel no or little heat coming through when you are done.
     
    Since you have put the stuffed/unstuffed pig on the extremely hot rocks you can relax for 8 to 10 hours. Don't be too much a hurry so get that pig in the ground early if you plan to eat at dinner time. A few extra hours in the ground won't hurt & is better than an undercooked pig.
    Take care when digging it up so as not to get dirt on the pig which should be quite tender and fragile. This is where the chicken wire comes in handy. Have a table close by to set the pig on when you lift it out.
     
    Good luck!  Hope this helps.
    Trask
    #14
    mayor al
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/08 19:12:37 (permalink)
    I am reading all this data, and checking the links posted too. There is a ton of Info about the task, so the issue is becoming sorting out the 'real news' from the non-useable.

    Personally I would prefer to build a cinder block pit for a one-time cooking activity....but so far the vote is holding on the 'dug-pit' method.  Here in the hills near the Ohio River, we don't lack for stone to use, wood to burn, or clay dirt to dig in. We have access to a number of Hickory trees, recently cut, that will make good burning wood in a couple of months. The trees were in the 24 inch diameter size.. they were cut to clear a homesite near the neighbor, so wood is the least of our worries.

    We are checking for local sources for the 'victim'. I noticed when I looked up the Edam Cheese Post about Mississippi State's campus store...they had whole hogs (dressed) for $1.10 a pound. We are looking to see if that prices is close to what the Hoosier farmers are getting for Pork.

    Please keep the info coming. We are learning more each time we open the thread.  Thanks for the helpful hints !!!!
    #15
    UncleVic
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/08 20:07:02 (permalink)
    Al, you would have to mention Hickory Trees..  I so miss my old backyard and abundance of hickory. Down here I strongly doubt Palm Tree's or whatever other of these funky tree's we have would make for good smoke flavor.  If your pit cooking happens when the hickory nuts are green, toss them in for the ultimate flavor! (Just be careful, as the the green nuts have lots of oil and tend to explode).


    post edited by UncleVic - 2010/03/08 20:09:14
    #16
    mayor al
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/08 20:25:46 (permalink)
    Vic,
      In SoCal we used a LOT of fruitwood trimmings from out trees out there. While the branches were NOT Hickory tree sized, they did impart a lot of good smokey flavor to the 'que we did in our home-smoker out there. Mesqute was available, but it burns much hotter than Hickory and i never mastered the proper controls for using it.

    OH Yeah.. We had tons of Juniper (huge 12-15 foot 'bushes') i learned the hard way that Juniper really sucks as a heat source for BBQ !!!
    #17
    mayor al
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/12 11:44:53 (permalink)
    A couple of updates-

       1. We are still discussing the merits of a cinder-block open pit vs a hole in the ground. Lots of discussion with little deciding factors yet.

       2. Our local market has Pork Butts at 99 cents a lb this week. I just brought home two, about 10 lbs each. I am thinking about smoking one in the block pit, and burying one in an underground cooker. Maybe this will decide how we do the Big Pig.

      Even using just the Butts, thats 20 lbs of pork (minus cooking loss) for a couple of folks.  Guess the dogs will eat well !!! 
    post edited by mayor al - 2010/03/12 11:46:56
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    rjb
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/12 12:10:32 (permalink)
    These luau-type "barbecues" can be fun events, but I've never thought the pork itself amounted to much.  Its basically a steamed hog -- plenty moist, but not much flavor and frequently with sand finding its way to the plate -- and not worth the trouble IMHO.  Same with those little barbecue boxes on wheels (Caja China, I think).  Might as well throw it in the oven.

    Now a properly pit barbecued whole hog using post oak or hickory and letting the smoke waft around it for about 12 - 14 hours...whole 'nother deal and definitely worth the effort.

    Good luck and enjoy your hog.
    #19
    mayor al
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/12 13:32:38 (permalink)
    rjb-
    That's the way I see it also...Now I just have to convince my neighbor that 'visible' is better than buried!!!
    #20
    rjb
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/12 15:29:00 (permalink)
    mayor al

    rjb-
    That's the way I see it also...Now I just have to convince my neighbor that 'visible' is better than buried!!!


    Just do it -- once the neighbor smells the essence of barbecuing hog wafting by, he'll come around.

    BTW, if you've not done this before, its not difficult, just time (and beer) consuming.   Main hassle is building a frame & rack on which to wire down your hog.   One thing to pay attention to is ambient temperature and wind.  Cold windy spring days & whole hog barbecuing don't go together.
    #21
    Trask
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/12 19:50:26 (permalink)
    Although I posted on the buried method, I fully agree with rjb & you,  that the above ground method is better!
     
    mayor al

    rjb-
    That's the way I see it also...Now I just have to convince my neighbor that 'visible' is better than buried!!!


    #22
    Foodbme
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/12 20:34:25 (permalink)
    Here's a "How To Build a BBQ Pit" link. Complete with  pictures:
    http://www.bbqlodge.com/bbqpit/bbqpit.htm
     
    Here's another good one. Scroll all the way down to see the complete operation:
    http://cuban-christmas.com/pigroast.html
    post edited by Foodbme - 2010/03/12 20:44:18
    #23
    tiki
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/13 08:08:12 (permalink)
    Al--have helped out with a few of these--one peice of advice---invite someone who has a small tractor with a back hoe and ask him to come down before hand and get your pit ---and all the fuel and other stuff-- for instance-a big pile of sand!!--tarps(real canvas if you can find them)--DRY rocks to line the pit and get HOT---any--have all it it really well organized--get a bunch of folks and a keg of good ale and remember ---the best time at an event like this is had from when you start to make the pit to till food is served! Wish i could drop by and help but i have 2 long trips planned this year and that ate the budget up--well that and the health insurance!
    #24
    Big_Ted
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    Re:(Hole-in-the-ground) Pit-Cooked Whole Hog Suggestions, Please 2010/03/15 00:36:15 (permalink)
    Put me on the list of folks looking to do this, too.  My friends and I have decided that this Memorial Day we are going to roast a hog.  This will give us plenty of time to do our research. 

    I'm thinking of doing it the Cuban way, as described by the link provided.  I have a welder lined up to make the racks and another is looking for cinder blocks. 

    I'll post pics as it comes to pass.
    #25
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