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Jun 26, 2007 09:04 PM

How do you roast a pig?

Every year I think about doing this. My only experience is when a group of us inherited a full hog after the planner/idea-guy had an emergency gallbaldder operation and a pig and uber-rotisserie contraption was delivered to the door. We way undercooked the beast and one person got sick (but it was pretty and smelled good).

Can you recommed online resouces for this? I live in South OC, CA and would love to cook a pig for Labor Day. If I could find a rental rotiserrie place and a suckling pig source I'd be a happy camper.

Any suggestions?

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  1. suckling pigs are available, on order from most butchers, particularly Asian ones. Rotisseries also...

    The key is to have somebody standing by with a spray bottle of water (maybe with some herbs in it) and spritz the pig regularly as it turns.. this prevents the outside from looking too cooked and ending up with an underdone inside...

    A whole pig IMHO takes about 8-9 hours over low coals... and every hour, on the hour, I add a buch of green herbs or vine clippings to give it a good smoking. You want radiant heat, NOT flames....

    Any decent butcher should be able to give you full instructions.. ours even comes over and sets it all up for us.. and often stays for dinner!!!

    2 Replies
    1. re: purple goddess

      You must have an altruistic butcher. Although I have not asked, I'd be shocked if my local butcher (I only know of one that isn't a chain grocery store), offered to pull up his rotisserie and come over on his day off to BBQ me a pig.

      You are truly blessed to have the butcher you do. Treat him well and send him to me when he takes vacation.

      1. re: Pate

        I don't often frequent a chain store for meat, unless it's after hours...and here in OZ, pretty much every corner set of shops has it's own local butcher... Mr Goddess and our butcher often fish together and exchange tips on hunting...and our local butcher has a side business in hiring out his spits...

    2. I have done a lot of them. E-mail me if you do it yourself. It's really an arrow in your quiver that you use forever. There's a lot to it to do it successfully.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Veggo

        I feel stupid because I don't know how to email you. I went to your page on Chowhound and clicked on the link to your blog but it said that the "Page cannot be displayed". I know you don't want to post your email address here but if you give me a hint I'll try to "follow the yellow brick road".

        1. re: Pate

          I'm not high tech. Just I don't have links and blogs.

      2. You can also give this a try:

        My friends have had some great successes with this contraption, and I hear it's not nearly as complicated as Flabby Flay made it seem on FoodNetwork.

        2 Replies
        1. re: riceflour

          My husband and I host a family reunion every couple of years and a whole roasted pig is always the center of the meal. After renting huge rotisseries many times - and nursing the rotating pig for 8 hours each time - we finally bought a caja china a few years back. What a difference it has made! If you follow the directions, a 60-pound pig takes only 3-1/2 hours to roast (it's butterflied and cooked flat, rather than spitted) and it is done to utter perfection. For us, it's the only way to go from now on.

          1. re: Deenso

            I Googled caja china; interesting. The splayed format is exactly what I suggested to purple goddess when she does a goat, with an aromatic hardwood. I still like the concept of spinning a pig for 8 hours, with the knowledge / fear of everything that can go wrong, and getting it right nevertheless. Maybe it's one of those obsolete achievements of pathetic merit. But they sure are purdy at the end of the day.

        2. You can start a day with a pretty, dead pig and a fancy metal contraption, but you are a long way from a meal. If you do it yourself there are a hundred things you need to know about.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Veggo

            Veggo.. ever done one in an outdoor oven???

            Any tips??

            1. re: purple goddess

              Oh, I have tips. Most essential when the pig is suitably aged and skinned:

              1) questions about killing, gutting, hanging in wet burlap? e-mail me

              2) It must rotate constantly and be BALANCED
              ( tines in the shoulders and hips, around the spindle?) e-mail me

              3) weight/ fuel/ height/ cooking time/ wind-temp? e-mail me

              4) have you carved a beast? e-mail me

              1. re: Veggo


                i like it with the skin on. it's the best part! it would be easier if they had a butcher bone it out (most are willing since they can then sell those bones to other customers). i cringe when i think of someone without butchering experience trying to take a pig apart ....

                1. re: kimberlya

                  kimberlya: skinned, or not? coin toss. The skin is a little randy as it cooks off, but it mostly cooks off. And I admit the skinned pig for starters looks a little ghostly. A dry rub helps. I would hang it in the basement for 2 days, wrapped in wetted burlap to keep it cool, to get the enzyme thing going.

                  1. re: Veggo

                    to tell you the truth, i'd rather stick it in a roasting pan in a convection oven and forget about it! that way is just as tasty, less messy, and the pig certainly looks prettier in the end =)

          2. okay, DON"T spray it with water! if you're going to use a rotisserie, have your butcher bone out the chest, first arm and leg joints as well as the hip bones. you can then stuff it with something yummy like the offals combines with ground pork, bread, egg, and spices. make sure you truss it tightly! it doesn't have to be TOO just has to keep the thing together. use a pan to catch the drippings and spray it with a combination of those drippings and either butter or pig lard. it'll be done when it's up to the correct temperature in the thickest park of the thigh. they're not quite as pretty once they're cooked al the way through properly, but your friends won't get sick!

            good luck.