How to Hog Roast a Pig on a Spit

Thursday 18th September 2014

Roasting a hog is certainly a very traditional and rustic way of enjoying a meat meal. There’s something about seeing the whole animal slowly cooking over a fire that elicits a response different to that of cooking unidentifiable hunks of minced meat squashed into patties or cylinders. What may surprise a lot of meat-lovers, however, is just how easy it is to have a hog roast in your back garden. The result is a meal that’s truly a sight for the eyes and an experience on the taste buds unlike anything else you may have tried before.

How to Hog Roast a Pig on a Spit

Equipment

Naturally we have to start at the equipment you’ll need. Actually buying a spit is unnecessary - it’s easier and cheaper to rent it out. If you want it done properly, you’ll need something large and strong enough to support the hog’s weight (dead pigs are very heavy). Most spits also tend to be motorised, freeing from the task of turning the spit frequently yourself.

Next you’ll need fuel, preferably something that will be burn slowly with even heat and minimal smoke. If you buy something that burns too quickly and too intensely, then you’ll wind up with an improperly cooked hog roast, which is no fun for anyone. Long tongs for rearranging the coals are also a boon. You may also want to consider buying some rock salt and cooking herbs, such as sage and rosemary, to rub into the pig before cooking, so as to improve its flavour.

The Hog

Next is choosing the hog you intent to spit. Remember that you’re hosting the whole thing, not merely a part of it, so you’ll need to make sure that you can both transport and store it if you don’t intend to have it delivered on the day of cooking. This can be as much as 90lbs of meat and bones, so keep this in mind.

You don’t need a huge freezer to store it either. Even something as simple as wrapping it in a large plastic bag, placing it in the bath and covering it in ice will keep it chilled enough to last a day or two.

If, however, you’re not sure you can accommodate this, not to worry - most butchers are happy to deliver and you can arrange it to be delivered on the morning it’s to be cooked. This saves a lot of hassle. You may find buying directly from a farm is cheaper than buying from a butcher too. Yet another reason to support British farms!

As for the type of pig, it’s usually better to go for younger animals. As a pig ages, the meat gets tougher and drier. Younger pigs will have more meat and less fat, and the meat in question is very tender and juicy. Battery farmed pigs also tend to be inferior in quality to free-range pigs. Look for pigs that have been well cared in open pasture and had comfortable lifestyles.

Cooking

The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure the hog roast is nice and secure. When rotating, there’s a good chance various bits will flop around if you’re not careful. Simple measures such as tying the feet together and ensuring the pig is properly spitted will prevent this from occurring.

The actual cooking meanwhile is actually very easy, especially if you have a motorised spit. In this case, all you need to do is make sure that the fire is always at an even heat and that the hog is not cooking too slowly or too quickly. If this is the case, either add more coal or adjust the height of the spit if needed, as most spits are adjustable in that regard. You may also, if you wish, add various marinades and other flavourings as its cooking, although some may find the pig has plenty of flavour in itself already.

Within the last half hour, the skin will start to crackle as the fat bubbles to the surface. For the best effect, increase the heat and rotate regularly. The result is very juicy, very tender meat.

If it’s a manually turned spit, try to keep it rotated at regular intervals. Say one 90° rotation every fifteen or twenty minutes. If the flesh starts looking burnished within an hour, it’s cooking too quickly, so rotate or raise it as necessary. Ideally, the roast should take 1 hour and 15 minutes for every kilogram of meat.

For more information about hog roasts, or to hire someone to do it all for you, visit the website of the Hog Father, a hog-roast catering company based in South East England.

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