If you’ve always wanted to know why there’s a pig roast scene in Scrumptious, this is why.
But first, a little housekeeping – Jessie won the mini-offset spatula, which is now winging it’s way to her. I hope she loves it! The Boat of Hope benefit, put on by Naturally Chiropractic, raised $5806 for the Dragon Boat Racing Team. That will buy a lot of gas to get that boat on the river! I had a wonderful time at the event handing out hors d’oeuvres and chatting about gluten-free cooking. All the recipes can be found here. Finally, Luscious is coming out in July! Hurray! It’s been getting good reviews, which delights me to no end. Here’s one of my favorites:
“Usen expertly blends engaging characters with a swoon-worthy Italian setting right out of Under the Tuscan Sun (1996) and an abundance of delectably described Italian dishes to create an irresistible literary treat for fans of sizzling hot contemporary romances.”
— John Charles, Booklist
John Charles, I think I love you.
If you want to Pre-order Luscious, go here. And thank you!
With that said, Pig Roast 2012 dawned a bit drizzly, which always drives my husband nutso. He begins weather-watching a solid month before the block party, driving ME nuts comparing Accuweather, WIVB, Weather Channel and more. He’s relentlessly optimistic, one of the things I love about him, and he believes it will burn off soon. Such is the power of his positive energy, the rain stopped when he turned on the rotisserie. 😀
Step 1: Find a deli or grocery that will know what you are talking about when you say you want a whole pig. A 100-110 pig will feed at least 50 adults and various and sundry children. (Although we always get hot dogs too. The kids might have fun daring each other to eat the eyeballs, but they don’t actually want a pulled pork sandwich.) Ben orders his pig about a month ahead and tells them he wants it half-thawed. That means they’ll get it in the week before and let it sit in their walk-in to slowly defrost. Then Ben picks it up the day before the roast and lets it sit in our garage over night. It stays below 40 degrees, wrapped in plastic in a cardboard box. It’s easier to put a mostly thawed pig on the rotisserie than it is to try to winch a stiff pig into submission. He’s learned this through trial and error. This is the third pig he’s done for the block party, but he’s done a few in the backyard for friends too. That’s why we started to do them for the neighborhood – it takes a lot of people to eat a whole pig! (For those of you inferring we don’t have enough friends to eat a whole pig *snort!*)
Step 2: Pig goes on the rotisserie at 7 am for a 5:30 carve time. That’s about an hour for every 10 pounds for those of you who like math. Ben starts the coal ahead of time in a separate grill – one bag, about 20 pounds.
Get a friend to help you lift the pig. It’s unwieldy and it takes two to get it cranked down properly. Our roaster (rented) has a bar that goes through the middle of the pig and then a top rack and a bottom rack to crank down around the pig. As the pig cooks, you have to tighten the bolts because it shrinks as it cooks. It’s worth a little extra time spent making sure the pig is well-clasped between the racks. One year, the pig was a little too frozen to crank down tight and it fell off into the coals. Total pig party foul!
Put the hot coals in the roaster. (Be careful!) Ben offsets them to one side, toward the front of the roaster. He doesn’t put them right under the pig. I think that has something to do with dripping pig fat. I’ll go ask…even though Pigmaster Ben is righteously pissed about the continuing drizzle…I’m brave.
The report: Yup – dripping pig fat makes fire. You want steady heat, not fire. Also – a neighbor convinced Pigmaster Ben to have a beer at noon and he’s feeling more philosophical about the rain. Gonna have to remember that one for the future.
Step 3: Shut the lid. Add coals as needed to keep the temperature in the rotisserie at about 200-250 degrees. Cook the pig until a thermometer reads about 170 in the thickest part of the pig. The thickest part of this pig is the ham, so Ben stuck him repeatedly in the hip/thigh/buttock area. We ended up leaving the pig on until six o’clock, so it cooked for about eleven hours total. It really only takes about ten, but you have to take beer consumption, crowd control and the availability of trained pig carvers into consideration. The two guys helping Ben are neighbors, one guy’s grandfather was a butcher (so he’s grandfathered in *snort*) and the other guy is a helpful sort of bloke who is never too drunk when it’s time to carve. They take it off the rotisserie in about four pieces because it is difficult to lift a hundred pound 170 degree pig and carry it to the carving table. You’ll see in the last pig pic that I wasn’t paying attention and they started carving before I got my done pig picture.
Step 4: Carve the pig. You’re on your own here because Ben carried me through meat fab in culinary school. I call him an idiot savant with meat. When pressed, Ben said, “I just break it down into parts and then break it down into smaller parts.” See what I mean? Here’s a nice set of carving instructions with a helpful piggie diagram for the rest of us.
Step 5: Survive the hordes of hungry guests who will converge on the carving table. Make sure you get any leftover meat under refrigeration within 2 hours. You worked hard for that pig! Don’t lose the leftovers to spoilage and eat everything but the oink!