Grilling, Main Course, Pit Cooking, Pork, Side Dishes

Merry Christmas – it’s a pig…

So, I can always count on my brother to put a lot of thought and effort into any gift he slings my way.

  • He read my mind (or maybe just saw the slightly more than slick shoes on the truck) and got new tires for the beast.
  • One year it was a big slammin‘ box of assorted cheese from Artisanal Cheese Company.
  • My fishing gear became badly depleted, and some fishing tackle arrived.
  • Christmas, This past year my gift was a piece of paper that said -

“It’s downstairs…  in the freezer.”

It was a pig.
It was a nude, scrubbed, bubble wrapped, pink, 14 lb. piglet… with bright blue eyes.

I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in….

pig.

I was stoked!
No, really.. I was. I’ve always wanted to do a pig roast. But the thought of :
1. Buying an 80 lb. pig
2. Brining and Seasoning the beast
3. Trying to wallow the greased carcass into a pit
4. Figuring out what to do with that much cooked pig…

… have always been enough of a deterrent that I never gave it more than a dream and a sigh.

But 14 lbs? I can manage that. I just needed the suitable festive event for the pork-fest.

Days strung into weeks – weeks became months – and I’d periodically open the chest freezer where Mr. Pig had taken up residence and ask him, “Thought of a date yet?”
Of course he replied, “Have you figured out how you’re going to cook me yet?”
“No”, I’d grimace and close the lid.

Around the first of April, Jane saw the Bizarre Foods people eating crispy pig out of a Magic Pig Box, the skin looked so crispity and crunchy it just drew you in. And I thought, I can do that… so I priced one.

In case you’ve forgotten…. I’m cheap.

I’m not paying anybody $275.00 for something that looked like a wheelbarrow. I thought I could make one… I’m a reasonably smart and handy guy.
Turns out… I can’t make one. It would have cost me as much in tools and materials as it would to buy one.

Hearing my dilemma, my brother said he thought he could make the metal insert, then we’d just have to set it in a pit.
Perfect!
We set the day for around my birthday and made piggy love plans.

Here’s the thing when planning a piggy roast – you can’t change the date due to inclement weather. The morning of the roast the weather for our area drastically changed from the partly cloudy skies previously forecast. We now had imminent thunderstorms on the horizon. Only – The Pig was thawed & seasoned, and People were invited…. but mostly, I had a room temperature pig and he needed to be cooked.

So..
what do you do when plans irrevocably change?..you punt.

I ran to the store and grabbed a roll of fiberglass insulation to wrap the exterior of the box and moved the whole shebang to the potting shed in the garden. After a little structural work to bolster the contraption since it was now above ground, this is what I ended up with:

No, it isn’t pretty.
But it’s a box to cook a pig. It shouldn’t  have to be a thing of beauty. The piglet is, well… dead – and he isn’t going to care.

We loaded up the box with the pig, a leg of lamb, some stuffed Vidalia onions, and some apples filled with a parsley and sage compound butter – placed the lid, filled with charcoal and lit ‘er up.

and waited………..

I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures concerning the roast. It’s kind of like watching paint dry. Every 45 minutes you dump off the spent charcoal and start a new batch – for 6 hours. Inside, the pork was getting steamy and crispy, the lamb roasted away, and the accoutrements plodded along in their little tin foil sleeping bags.
and in the end you get this:

Piggy Piggy Goodness!

Sexy, happy, piggy love, goodness. The Skin crisped up like it was supposed to, the lamb was tender, slow roasted to medium with the fat cap just browned to beat the drum.

In the end – was it worth the effort? Hella yeah!
Would I do it again? Hella no… unless I invite a minimum of 2 dozen people. Although once it’s in the box and doing it’s thing in the dark, there isn’t a lot going on.  It’s just way too much work (and meat) for a small get-together to keep everyone entertained and happy while the grunt does it’s business.

No, there aren’t going to be any pig pictures here.
Cook pig photos look like one thing… and one thing only.
a whole lotta carnage going on -

and there was nothing I could do to make it any more appetizing. Trust me. Whacked up pig looks like whacked up pig… and people with handfuls of whacked up pig just looked barbaric.
so, no pics…. period.

But I’ll give you the marinade and accoutrements…. just in case you want to have your own little glutton party.

Chunky Moho
Coats 1 Piglet
Ingredients
1/2 Orange Diced (Peel Included)
2 Limes Diced (again, Peel Included)
5 Cloves Garlic
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Cumin Seeds
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Cup Fresh Oregano – Rough Chopped
2 Tablespoons Cider Vinegar

Place everything into a food processor and pulse about 10 times

To marinate your pig:

Turn the piglet on it’s back.
With a sharp knife or cleaver, crack the rib cage and open the carcass from chin to squeak.
Rub 1/2 the mixture inside the cavity and turn cut side down on a sheet pan
Rub the remaining moho onto the exterior of the skin
Let sit a minimum of 1 hour before cooking

Baked Apples 
with Sage & Parsley Compound Butter
Makes 4 Large Apples (Serves 4 to 8)
Ingredients
4 Large Granny Smith Apples
1 Stick Room Temperature Butter
1/2 Cup Parsley – Minced
1/4 Cup Fresh Sage Leaves – Rough Chopped
1 Clove Garlic – Minced
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Cracked Black Pepper

Core the Apples only deep enough to remove the core – leave the base intact
Mix together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and fill each of the cored apples completely
Seal tightly in tin foil and place in a baking dish on on a sheet pan to reduce the chance of an oven fire
Bake at 375 for a minimum of 45 minutes to 1 Hour – depending on the size of the apple.
The apples with give when pinched through the foil when done. (If you are doing the pit route – each of the sides will cook in with the pig for the same amount of time as the pig)

Slow Roasted Vidalia Onions
Makes 4 Onions (Serves 4 to 8)
Ingredients
4 Large Vidalia (or other super sweet) Onion
8 Strips Bacon
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Cracked Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Cider Vinegar
1/4 Teaspoon Poultry Seasoning

Mince the bacon
In a small bowl, mix together the minced bacon with all the remaining ingredients except the poultry seasoning
With a melon baller, core out about a 1″ x 1″ hole in the center of the onion
Pack each onion with the bacon mixture and sprinkle with the poultry seasoning
Wrap in tin foil and place in a shallow baking dish or sheet pan (again – fire.)
Bake at 375 for a minimum of 1 hour
Onions will squitch  in the foil easily when done.