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May 16, 2010 07:28 AM

To Brine or Not to Brine???

We're doing a whole pig for July 4th with a rented propane cooker and smoking it with wood chips. Size of the pig will be about 50 - 60 lbs. The question is should we brine this thing and if so for how long? I was originally leaning toward doing this but upon further thought realized there's a nice layer of fat on a whole pig that you normally don't get on smaller cuts of pork bought for everyday cooking. So for this reason I'm wondering if brining is really necessary. It certainly would simplify things if we didn't have to deal with the brining.


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  1. I was just reading something about "dry brining" and wonder if that would work in this case. Basically it's just putting the salt and seasonings on the skin and letting it sit that way in the same manner as with traditional brining. I have no experience in the matter but it sounded plausible.
    Sounds like a fun event at any rate.
    Good Luck!

    1. Not necessary! Would be a waste of time and resources. Keep it simple!


      1. When I do whole hog, I simply rub the entire girl with salt the night before. Comes out pretty terrific.

        5 Replies
        1. re: porker

          That would be my suggestion too. Don't even know how one would wet brine a whole hog?? Who has a container big enough??

          1. re: Phurstluv

            That was my first reaction.

            That's a lot of salt, lots of cold water (and probably ice) ...

                1. re: Phurstluv

                  No not mine, just a random websearch of a pig in a pool...
                  a feeble attempt of humor...

          2. I like the idea of just rubbing the outside with salt. You can get inside the cavity with some of it, and some black pepper, too.

            Sure, a lot of porky goodness will come from that wonderful layer of fat; however, it becomes over-the-top delicious when a little bit of salt's involved. Remember, salt is what gives us restaurant people our edge...

            4 Replies
            1. re: shaogo

              ...and flavourful fat in various forms...

              1. re: porker

                Oh, yes... fats are our friend, too!

                It just occurred to me that if you don't wanna go the salt route, you've gotta get a little umami going -- very appropriate with pork. I'd try soy sauce for something totally different.

                Before you do up the piggie on July 4, perhaps you want to experiment. I'm a big fan of buying a pork shoulder ("fresh ham") and roasting it off very, very slowly in our little Farberware turbo-oven at home. I've done these shoulders (my fave part is the shank where the meat's surrounded by the fat and the cracklin's) after brining, but also after marinating with soy, ginger and scallion (one of the Chinese 'holy trinity' combinations). The shoulder that was marinated for an hour in this mixture cooked up absolutely, positively delectable -- porky-rich, but in a much more refreshing sort of way than with any of the German-style spice/seasoning mixtures that I'd used in the past.

                1. re: shaogo

                  How many gallons, do you think, of soy would be needed??

                  Still think salt's the way to go.

                  1. re: shaogo

                    Cooking with abandon in a commercial kitchen gave me joy; it wasn't about calories or carbs or whatever - it was about taste.
                    2lbs of butter to sweat veggies for a pot of barley soup - of course its gonna taste good!

                    As for the July 4 swine, I agree, some experimenting beforehand might be worthwhile. Careful on what you'll be slathering on the hog as it may darken the skin way too much. Not bad in itself, just doesn't look great for presentation. I'd suggest sticking to nothing at all, or maybe simple oil/salt (for the outside anyway).

              2. I say no.Try alot of info.