We really, really love pork. So, when we got married two years ago, we decided to cut into a pig instead of a cake. That’s right — we had a whole hog smoked for us, and we romantically held hands and cut into the shoulder together, then proceeded to feed each other bits of smoky, juicy just-pulled pork.
Instead of buying each other anniversary presents, we decided to continue the tradition with an annual pig roast. It’s a great way to relive that romantic moment, but roasting a pig also makes for a really great late-fall party.
Cooking a whole hog can seem daunting, but with good planning, it can actually be a relaxing day full of fire-tending and beer-drinking that culminates with enough meat to feed a sizable crowd.
We use beer twice throughout the process. The night before we’re ready to cook, we inject a mix of beer and other flavors into the pig to let it brine overnight. Then we add more beer when we stuff the pig’s cavity for the last three hours of cook time with sausage, cabbage, onions, apples, apple cider, and apple cider vinegar. And of course, we keep plenty of beer on hand to enjoy throughout the day as we sit around our cinder block smoker.
Here’s what you’ll need.
A 70 to 85-pound pig
40 cinder blocks
Large grill grate
Insulated meat gloves for pulling
100 grams of kosher salt
1 tablespoon BBQ rub
1 12-ounce lager beer
2 cups apple cider
⅓ cup cider vinegar
⅓ cup brown sugar
Juice of one lemon
In the spray bottle:
1 ½ cups apple cider
1 cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Sausage and Cabbage Filling:
2 heads green cabbage, shredded
4 apples, diced
2 onions, sliced
10 Polish sausages, cut into coins
1 cup apple cider
1 12-ounce lager
¾ cup cider vinegar
Here’s how to do it.
A few weeks before: Talk to your butcher and order a hog. The smoker we recommend will be big enough for a pig in the 70-85 pound range and that should be enough meat to feed 50-plus people.
The day before: Build a cinder block smoker. You’ll need 40 cinder blocks. Build a rectangle 3 blocks by 2 blocks and build it up four layers. Place the grill grate on top of the third layer and use the fourth layer to keep it in place.
Pick up your pig from the butcher. Make the marinade by combining all ingredients and whisking while it simmers. Using a meat injector, inject the marinade into the shoulders, hams, tenderloins, belly, and rib meat until you have used all of the liquid.
The day of the pig roast: Light a chimney starter full to the brim with coals. While the fire is starting, build four coal piles in the smoker, one in each corner. Once the chimney starter has fully ignited, divide the lit coals amongst the four piles, add wood chunks, and allow all 4 fires to become white-hot coals without any flames. Place the pig on the smoker grate belly side down, use tin foil to seal the top, and start a timer.
Every 30 minutes for the next 8 hours, add a couple handfuls of coals to two diagonal corners — alternating which corners you add to. We also add big wood chunks; we like apple and hickory but you can use your preferred wood.
Two hours in: Flip the pig on its back and give the interior a good spray of apple cider, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil. Then sprinkle on some of the bbq rub. Continue to do this every hour for the next three hours.
Five hours in: it’s time to give the pig one last good spray and then add the sausage and cabbage filling. Continue to open the tin-foil lid once an hour and stir the cabbage mix until you’ve reached 8 hours. At that point the internal temperature of the ham should be above 190ºF and ideally in the 195º to 200º range. Remove the cabbage stuffing from the pig and place it in a pan. Cover the pan and place in the oven at 325º to keep warm while you allow the pig to rest.
Remove the pig from the smoker and allow to cool for at least thirty minutes and up to an hour.
Using insulated meat gloves (yes, they exist) begin pulling the meat from the bones. Serve with buns, pickles, barbecue sauce and napkins.