Thursday, October 27, 2011

How to Roast a Whole Pig - Part 1

Roasting a whole pig isn’t as daunting of a task as it might seem if you have never done it before.  There is definitely some work and time involved, but it certainly isn’t hard.  I’ll explain everything from purchasing to serving so your pig roast can be a day to remember.

I will make this a 5 part, comprehensive, series from start to finish.  So if you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for regular updates.  Once complete all the information will be placed on the How to Roast a Pig page for future reference.

When roasting a whole pig you definitely need to consider how large of a pig you are going to need.  This is usually based upon the number of people you are going to feed.  Rule of thumb is 1 lb per person hanging weight. 

If you are going to have a large number of guests (over 120 people) consider getting two smaller pigs, or supplement it with additional meat (pork butt, shoulder, or loin).  Smaller weight pigs generally mean they are younger, the meat can be more tender, and your cook time will be less.

Now you need to find a place to purchase your pig.  Most butchers, including the one in your local grocery store, can get you one.  However, the question is, what will they charge you per pound?  I contacted a pig farm to try to get a pig direct from the source, and they ended up being 50% more than the butcher I got it from.  So shop around a little, or get a recommendation from someone. 

If you live in the Metro Detroit area go to Kaps Wholesale in Eastern Market in Detroit.  Everyone there is super friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful.  Also, their prices are very reasonable. 

The price of meat is like any other commodity and can change regularly.  I happened to purchase an 83 lb pig at $1.79/lb.

Also, call ahead to place your order.  Some places will require a couple weeks lead time while others may only need a couple of days, so plan ahead in case your butcher requires additional order time.

Ask if you can pick it up fresh and not frozen.  Pick it up the day before so you will have time to prepare it.

When purchasing a whole pig make sure it is stamped with the USDA seal of approval.  To receive the U.S.D.A.'s seal of approval, meat packing facilities must be inspected and maintain sanitation standards. 

Whole, Split, or Spit
Determine how you are going to cook your pig.  Either you can cook it whole, butterfly it and lay it flat, or you can put it on a rotisserie.  The rest of this tutorial will be based upon a butterflied pig. 

How to Butterfly
The easiest way to butterfly a pig is to have the butcher you purchase it from do it for you.  They will use a bone saw and it will only takes a couple of minutes. 

If you are looking for the whole pig roasting experience, you can do it yourself using a sharp axe/hatchet and hammer, or a hack saw/bone saw.  Simply cut along the middle of the spine and breast bone, taking care not to split the skin, and it will lay flat.

Butterflied Pig

Butterflied Pig