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BBQ'n a Pig (In Ground/Above Ground)

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Post Mon May 31, 2004 8:00 pm
BBQnMama medium-well

Posts: 277
Location: CO

Every year I host a big 'luau' complete with a smoked pig courtesy of an awsome local meat shop. This year I was thinking I'd try cooking the pig myself although I must say I'm a bit intimidated with the idea... has anyone done this before? In ground by any chance?

The only grilling/smoking equipment I have currently is a basic gas BBQ and a charcoal H2O smoker so unless it's in ground I'll need to find some larger apparatus to work with!

Post Mon May 31, 2004 10:17 pm
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 12904
Location: Texas

Post Tue Jun 01, 2004 6:43 am
BBcue-Z well done
well done

Posts: 3039
Location: Atlanta-GA
If you don’t have Steven’s book “BBQ USA”, you should pick up one soon. He describes this process in details.
Good luck.

Post Tue Jun 01, 2004 7:44 am
Grand Scale BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 4272
Location: York, PA
Don't be intimidated by going whole hog. I've done several. they're work yes but they are rewarding too. I did mine on a trailer grill though so I can't offer much more advise other than to say go for it!

Post Tue Jun 01, 2004 2:01 pm
elmtx rare

Posts: 14
Location: Grapevine, Texas
I did a small 60lb one on my smoker last year. That is the most straight forward method to cook it, but you would need a big smoker for a big pig. I think digging a pit is too much work, so I would go above ground. Here is a link that helped me:
Take care! - Erik

Post Sat Jun 05, 2004 9:02 pm
BBQnMama medium-well

Posts: 277
Location: CO

Thanks all.. I'll do my research and let you know how it turns out!

Post Tue Jul 06, 2004 10:22 pm

Posts: 2
Location: Auburn Hills, Michigan

I've got about 23 years into doing whole hogs, as well as Whole Buffalo, Beef and Ostrich. What size hog are you talking about rotissing? A 40 - 100 lb pig gives the best results. A 65 lb gives the all around best meat and the most beautiful presentation. Beyond 100 - 110 lbs I suggest having the hog butchered into sausage, ribs, pork loin, butts and hams. The extra weight after that is mainly fat, and will render down. Rubbing the cavity with seasonings is important. A big part to a successful rotisserie hog lies in using the right tools. (Of course, I'm partial to the E-Z Que 3'x 11" [PORKER Cradle Rotisserie Grill for 40 -100 lb and the E-Z Que 5'x11" Commercial PORKER Cradle Rotisserie Grill for 60-100 lb.) An E-Z Que Cradle Rotisserie elimiates the need to wire, tie, truss, or spear your expenisve hog. PLEASE...don't bind and gag the poor hog. It's not just degrading to the poor hog, but painful to think someone is still using a spit rod. :) Make sure you have the right rated motor, with the right RPM so that your hog self bastes and cooks evenly rather than dries and burns. (2 1/2 -4 RPM for a 40 - 60 lb - E-Z Que Stainless 40 lb test motor or for onsite E-Z Que AC/DC Chrome 40 lb test) A 4 1/2 RPM for 60+ - I suggest the E-Z Que Commercial/Industrial Cradle Rotisserie motor. ) It is important to have the ability to control the intensity and temperature of your coals and the wind. To reduce flare-ups and to ensure that lovely glistening golden, crispy skin that makes mouths water, prick the hide every 2 or so inches all over. This will allow the fat to evenly escape and self baste. Keep flare up under control with a spritzer bottle on hand (FLARE UP is BAD!) You can use a bit of apple cider, Coke-Cola/soda - or any sweet sugar liquid in your spritzer bottle to help with a a nice carmelization - AND don't forget your favorite smoking wood. I prefer mesquite o hickory for pork.

This is for open flame rotissing. If you use a smoker or want to do a ground pit, you can convert your existing unit (smoker/hearth/pit) to an E-Z Que UNIVERSIAL PIT MASTER Cradle Rotisserie.
EVOLUTION of REVOLUTION - Rotisserie Cooking for a New Millennium - E-Z Que Cradle Rotisseries

Post Fri Jul 09, 2004 4:04 pm
Daemien rare

Posts: 38
Location: Ontario, Canada
I realize this thread started a while ago, but...

I was at the local Canadian Tire here in Canada and they have a rental center. While browsing through what they had on hand to rent, I noticed an extremely long skewer/coal trough combo - specially made for roasting a whole pig. Not sure what the rental price was..

For anybody who doesn't have the gear, check out a party or heavy equipment rental business.. I was surprised to see this here, but if the price is right..


Post Sat Jul 10, 2004 9:20 am
BBcue-Z well done
well done

Posts: 3039
Location: Atlanta-GA
Here is a link to a unit that cooks a whole pig in less than four hours. I saw it on the FOOD Network a couple of week ago and it sounded very interesting. They claim that it produces the same results as cooking in ground. If you don’t want to spend the money to get, you can easily build one yourself.
Cooking instruction link:

Post Mon Jul 12, 2004 6:45 am
Craig medium-rare

Posts: 63
Location: North Carolina
Hello,and good luck on the pig. I'm a bit late on the thread, but, what the hey.
I have cooked pigs over a dug pit before, and the returns are great, but, if you can rent a closed cooker, either a side firebox or one that the coals go under the pig, It will be easier to maintain the temperature which is important. I have not used a rotis. for a hog (not enough money, and my teachers, my grandfather and uncle were traditional )
I use green hickory if I can obtain it, or white oak if not. Some like mesquite, but for me, it got to hot to fast, and imparts a strong flavor if smoked to long. If you wish to cook in the ground, dig a hole a bit wider and longer ( about a foot extra all the way around) than the hog, and about one foot deep . Then go to Home Depot, and purchase enough wire mesh ( 4 inch holes are what i use) to cover the hole and stake securely. Enlarge two holes on each side to get a shovel with the coals under the hog. I like to cook the hog meat side down for about one third the total cook time, flip, then season and baste the remainder.
As for the fire, I use a barrel with the bottom cut out, but stacking some old cinder blocks up on a piece of tin will work fine. When you get coals, use a square point shovel and a stiff garden rake to get the heat where you want it.
I hope this helps, Craig

Post Mon Jul 12, 2004 7:41 am
CharredGriller User avatar
BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 5795
Location: Central Alberta, Canada
Wow- I didn't realize there were so many of us who've done a whole hog!

I've done them on a rotisserie in a similar manner to those the folks above. I've also done them butterflied on the smoker, like BBQ USA and How To Grill showed us how to do.

In a pit, though? I've helped cook one- a 120-150 pounder. I did this with a handful of Filipino friends for a summer wedding on a local beach about 15 years ago. (I never did get the exact weight of the dressed pig. All I know is it took 3 guys to lift it besides myself, and I'm 6'2"!)

First things first- sand is better than dirt for this exercise. It breathes better and doesn't smother the fire.

It takes a BIG pit- about 2x the pig length and width and about 4 feet deep. We filled the entire pit with wood (hardwood only!) so the fire base extended to 2 feet above the ground, and let it burn down to coals. We also had a lot of rocks in the pit- about 100 pounds to line it and to throw on the fire. (NEVER use rocks from a stream bed- they explode with the force of a hand grenade when they get hot.) The rocks store heat from the fire and release it more gradually than coals themselves.

When the fire burnt down to coals and hot rocks, we covered them with 2 inches of wet sand, and then about 3 inches of wet banana leaves (tough to find except in some Oriental markets- they carry dried ones). The pig itself was well wrapped in banana leaves and also well spiced and then sauced with a soy-ginger-pineapple-cane syrup mix. We then laid another 2-3 inch layer of wet banana leaves over the pig in a crosswise-layered fashion and then covered those leaves with the leftover wet sand (about 1.5 feet or more). Cover the entire pit right to the edges - you don't want any air holes or hot spots.

The pig took about 17 hours to cook in this fashion. And yes- it was good. Really good.

Here's a few things I've learned since then:

1) You're not smoking the pork- you're steaming it. As a result you'll never get more than a very mild smoke flavor, but you will never have a problem with it drying out. Pit-steamed foods can be left for hours longer than on a BBQ, since they cook so gently and also do not cool off much while in the pitl I've left pit-cooked salmon in the ground for 10-16 hours and it still came out delicate and very succulent. (This for a fish that takes less than an hour or so to cook by indirect heat!)

2) It might be a good idea to insert the probe from a digital thermometer before covering the pork. Even though you can't really overcook food underground, it could save you several hours. When the pork is done (160F- 190F depending on if you want puled pork). The wire for the probe is relatively heatproof, so you could cover it with the banana leaves and wet sand without a problem.

3) Pit cooking takes a lot more wood than does spit or smoker cooking, since you need a huge bed of coals. We used about 1/3 of a full cord of wood on the fire.

4) Pit cooking is even less of an exact science than BBQ, but it's more forgiving. See 1) above. Since it's steamed and doesn't caramelize much, the sauce tends to penetrate the meat a lot more, but it doesn't really burn.

You might want to stick to the smoker or rotisserie for your first try- it's less work. On the other hand, consult a few Polynesian cookbooks to fill in the gaps I've missed (BBQ USA has a good Luau Pig recipe) and you will probably do very well using an open pit.

And good luck on the pig, whatever way you choose to do it.

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