How to BBQ Whole Pig?
My friend Debbie had hosted a nice mid week BBQ party for us full-time moms, (thanks Debbie); the focal point of this party was of course the barbecued pig, Gosh was it tasty! I have tried grilling chicken, turkey, burgers, and the sort, but never tried a full hog, so I went straight to my computer and searched for- how to BBQ whole pig. But sadly didn’t find any great ideas there…then after wasting a good part of my day trying to get an answer, Debbie came to my rescue (I know I should have gone to her the first place). The process she explained was so easy to follow (though real time consuming) I thought I must share it with you guys. So here it is – the secret of how to BBQ whole pig unraveled!
Barbecuing whole pig takes time and is a strenuous task, so it is advisable to select you pig and ask the butcher to deliver the butchered and dressed hog at your place. Many meat shops have this door step service. Avoid ordering a very huge pig, anything more than 200 lbs can be difficult to handle.
Pig takes at least 8 to 12 hrs to be cooked, so according to Debbie, it’s a good idea to start the process sometime after dinner. So that the pig is done by the next morning and you can do the final cooking and carving just before the guests arrive. This way the pig will be ready on time for the party. Also remember to rope in some help, or else you will be left yawning off during the BBQ party.
If the pig gets delivered early, remember to keep the pig chilled to prevent rigor mortis from setting in. A good idea is to make a layer of ice in your bath tub, cover it with a thin plastic sheet and place the hog over it; place another plastic sheet over the pig and cover the hog completely with ice on all sides.
Get the barbecue grill ready. For this you will obviously need a grill big enough to hold the whole length of the pig. Next clean up the grill and place ready prepared charcoal (this saves a whole lot of time), for those who want to take that extra step you might like to use some vinegar marinated hickory wood over the coal, this gives a unique flavor to the pig. Light up the fire and allow the heat to rise up to at least 250oF to 275oF. Place a heavy wire rack about a foot over the coals and allow the rack to heat as well.
Remove the pig from the bathtub; pat it dry. Cut it down the middle and open it in a butterfly fashion. Break the ribs at the spine, this will allow the pig to lay flat on the grill. Take care not to pierce the skin with the bones.
Cover the skin completely with salt – this removes all the moisture and lets the skin get utterly crispy. Cover the eyes, the snout, and the haunches in a foil to prevent them from burning. Now smear the insides with some barbecue rub and inject mop sauce into the ham portion of the pig – this enhances the flavors and keeps the meat from drying. Your pig is now all ready for the BBQ.
Lay the pig flat on the wire rack, cover the grill and cook the delight for a minimum of 10 hrs (the time taken will vary anything between 8 to 14 hrs depending on the size of your pig). It’s absolutely prudent to keep the temperatures constantly above 250oF , though not too high, you will end up burning your pig otherwise. So you need to keep checking the grill temperature every now and then to add or remove coal and adjust the temperatures.
After around 8 hrs of cooking you can start monitoring the temperature of the meat to check if completely cooked. For this insert a meat thermometer first into the head portion, take the reading and then into the ham area. Once the temperature reaches above 170oF (nothing less will do) in both areas, your pig is ready - there might be a slight temperature difference in the 2 portions of the pig, don’t worry that’s absolutely fine.
Now bring down the grill temperature by removing out some of the coal, keep the cover opened up, and allow the pig to stay for another 1 or 2 hrs. This will allow the juices to go back to their original places, and bring out all the flavors in the hog.
Once this is done your BBQ whole pig is ready. All you need to do is haul it out carefully. This can be tricky as the pig tends to fall part, use 2 or more big pizza spatulas for this purpose; of course do not forget to rope in more help. Place it on your table, decorate the pig, and carve it over.
Now all that’s left to do is to “pig out” at the BBQ party!
Image credit: google.com