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Pit Cooking – Roasted Whole Pig

01.17.2010

Our special activity coordinator Mike, that I cooked with last week, did a medieval dinner for the young women in our neighborhood. They were given a pie tin, a knife, and a cup. We served oxtail soup, salad with oil and vinegar, and a mixture of cheeses, dates, and nuts. We also cooked a full 110 pound pig. Here’s the story:

At 8am we all meet at Mike’s house to start the fire and heat the rocks. The idea is, that we burn a huge fire down to coals, heat rocks and then dig out the coals, add the pig, rocks, and wet cardboard and a few layers of foil to reflect the heat back. Then we cap the firepit with a large steel plate and let it cook for 4 hours. Unfortunately, it was still raw after about 6 hours, so Mike tried quartering it and barbecuing it and it still didn’t work, so we never got to have any pig. Mike was so disappointed, he had spent so much time researching how to cook a pig, not to mention the time we spent cooking it. At the time of this posting, the pig is probably ready by now, but I am too snug in my living room. It was 15 degrees out this morning.

First we had to bust up a pallet for more firewood, and we got some special help:
First we had a normal manageable fire:

By the way, Mike rebuilds engines on heavy equipment, and the cool fire ring he has is a large planetary gear with a broken tooth. He says they just throw this kind of thing away, and he can hook me up! That’ll motivate me to get in the back yard!

Adding the pallet made this ginormo-hugantous fire. (yes, that is a technical term)


Next it came time to dress the pig. No, we didn’t put a little tuxedo on it, just a spice rub of season salt.


Then the pig had to be hog tied. (Pun DEFINITELY intended!) So it would fit in the fire ring.


Bryce is prepping the cardboard that will soak in the bathtub for a good 20 minutes.


Next the pig is given a jacket of chicken wire, so that it can be pulled from the fire pit with ease.


Mike and Jake are pulling the coals except for a few in the bottom, out of the fire ring. The coals are piled up around the fire ring.

At this point the rocks are heated to 500-700 degrees. They are sitting on the steel plate that will cover the top. The tinfoil on the right, we wrapped around cardboard. Our pig consultant suggested that that piece of cardboard be removed since it would catch fire. We just added the tin foil on top of the coals. Then the pig went in:


After the meat was in, hot rocks were arranged on top and the sides so that the lid would close. This took a little while, since the rocks were quite large. And very, very, hot.

On top of all this went another layer of tin foil, shiny side down, circles of wet cardboard, and the large steel plate:


After we got the plate on it started to heat up and bulge like a pressure cooker. We knew it would hold in the heat, but we added a large steel drum on top to hold it down. We joked that it would pop off and fly over the street, damaging the neighbors house, but it stayed just fine.

Like I said before, the pig only cooked half way by dinner bell, but it was no fault or lack of planning on Mike’s part.

Everything else was good, especially the oxtail soup:


Here is the fearless cast and crew:

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