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Barbecue (alt.food.barbecue) Discuss barbecue and grilling--southern style "low and slow" smoking of ribs, shoulders and briskets, as well as direct heat grilling of everything from burgers to salmon to vegetables.

Whole Hog Cooking



 
 
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Old 07-08-2004, 12:43 PM
Edwin Pawlowski
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Default Whole Hog Cooking

Ran across this a few years back.


How To Cook Whole Hogs


Courtesy of http://www.erc.msstate.edu/hawgs/hawgs.html



1.Have the slaughter-house clean the hawg but have them leave on the head,
all feet, and tail (a cap goes on the tail.) Also tell them not to damage
the ears (some slaughter-houses think they have to suspend the hawg by
grabbing them with some sort of hanging device around the base of the ears,
but we have found that they can do this without harming the ears.) Also, if
you can remember, have them prop the mouth open with a stick because an
apple must go in the mouth, and most humans are not strong enough to open
the mouth for this purpose.



2.Hawgs in the weight range of 8O-12O pounds dressed (where dressed means a
hawg that has been cleaned but has the head, feet, and tail attached.)
usually cook best. We've cooked hawgs as large as 396 pounds dressed, but we
don't recommend it. The amount of meat per person will depend on the group.
An all-men group will consume a good bit more than a mixed group,
particularly if the people in the mixed group have never attended one of
these. If they have attended one previously and found that the hawg didn't
kill 'em, then they will eat more. We suggest one pound of dressed hawg per
person.



3.We do not dig a pit in Mississippi due to the clay. Build a pit of
concrete blocks two blocks high, five blocks long, and three blocks wide
(for one hawg) on flat ground or slightly sloping ground which will help
drain the grease away. This takes a total of 32 blocks. If you are short a
few blocks, you can get by with 28 blocks by making the pit four blocks
long.



4.Line the bottom of the pit with freezer foil, not regular aluminum foil as
it is too thin.



5.Spread out a few bricks (five or six) in the bottom of the pit.



6.Place a fine steel grate (or fine wire mesh) on the bricks in the bottom
of the pit. This will prevent large grease fires if you pay attention and
immediately put out the small fires which start when grease drops down on
the hot coals. (Doss likes to use a water (squirt) bottle for this. I think
that's cheatin' and should be done by using the small coal shovel to spread
the coals away from the small fires.)



7.Place the rods across the top of the blocks with another piece of fine
steel grate on top of the rods. The hawg will go on top of this grate.
(Actually we now use a steel grate that has long lengths of small sized
angle-iron down each side that reaches across the pit and the hawg goes
directly on this grate.)



8.When the hawg arrives, start four or five pounds of charcoal in the
charcoal cooker. (This cooker is used only to get the coals ready to place
under the hawg.)



9.To prepare the hawg do the following:

Rip-out the kidneys and any extra tubes, etc. (like the aorta) that the hawg
will no longer need. Take the single bladed ax and hammer and start
splitting the backbone so the hawg will lay flat on the grate. (This method
of cookin' is called butterfly cookin', so you want to open him up so he
will lay-out (like a flyin' squirrel).)DO NOT CUT THROUGH THE SKIN or you
will have BIG-TIME problems later on. In fact, don't cut the skin in any
way, or poke any holes in the skin. After you get the hawg laid-out, the
apple is next. Have your stoutest guy or gal pull the mouth open and stick
an apple in it. I have seen this done once. If you have no Paul Bunyan
around, use item 11 in the equipment list. The apple is necessary because he
will bite the apple when he is done.



10.After the hawg is prepared, lay him belly down on the grate. Place a nice
hat on his head between his ears, shades on his eyes, and an Ole Miss
baseball cap on his rear end. The hawg won't cook without these items.



11.Now take pictures with the bosses up front and the real workers in the
rear, or better yet with the real workers not even in the picture. The
reason for the pictures is that all night long you will swear you are
getting nowhere in cookin' this hawg, but 24 hours later you can prove you
started with a raw hawg. The reason for the bosses being up front is because
they will be there anyway. besides, this may encourage them to pay for
everything, and they are of no use for anything else anyway.



12.You are ready to start cookin` now. Use the small coal shovel to place 2
to 3 coals under each ham and each shoulder. (NO MORE COALS THAN THIS!)



13.You will now start getting verbal abuse about how the hawg won't cook, it
will be raw, any fool would know better, etc, etc. Tell them fine, they
don't have to eat any of it tomorrow. Then replenish the charcoals you took
out of the charcoal cooker and head for the beer cooler. (You only have to
start the charcoal once. After the first time, simply spread the hot
charcoal out so that when the charcoal gets hot, it is about time to put
more coals under the hawg. I would guess this works out to be about every 3O
to 4O minutes. More on this in instruction number 16 below.)



14.Say you want to eat the hawg(s) at 5 P.M. on a Saturday. (All that
follows relative to time will be based on this assumed eating time. For any
other eating time apply a suitable forward or backward shift operator.) We
usually pick the hawg up and get him to the site by at least 4 P.M. on
Friday. You should be able to get him stated cookin' by 4:3O or 5:OO P.M. on
Friday. The hawg is to be turned over only once. He will probably need to be
turned over on his back between 8 A.M. and 1O A.M. on Saturday at that
"moment-of-perfection," and I don't know how to describe to you what that
"moment-of-perfection" is, so just turn him at 9:41 A.M. on Saturday.



15.After starting the hawg at 5 P.M. on Friday, continue cookin' him by
adding coals now and then. You can leave him uncovered on the pit for
viewing until around 10 P.M. Friday night. Then you need to cover him. Cover
him first with one piece of sheet iron that DOES NOT TOUCH THE HAWG ANYWHERE
EXCEPT THE FEET AND EARS. We use a special piece of bent sheet iron that
does not touch the hawg. Over this sheet iron place a small tarp that covers
the pit. This is essentially our cooking oven.



16.The rate at which coals are applied comes, I suppose, from experience.
For the entire 24 hours of cooking, you should use slightly less than one
pound of charcoal per pound of hawg. For example, for a 1OO pound dressed
hawg (including head and feet), we would buy 1OO pounds of charcoal, but we
would probably only use around 8O to 9O pounds of charcoal. The key to
cookin' is to START SLOW and don't eveer get much faster. Just be
PERSISTENT. It is a low-temperature/long-duration cooking process. Every
time one of our cookers have described to someone else how to cook a hawg,
they usually cook too fast and ruin the hawg.



17.After the hawg is turned over, grease will drip, or even run at times, so
one should not put the coals where the grease drips. (Actually it will begin
dripping long before it's turned but the greatest danger of significant
grease fires occurs after turning.) We usually place the coals more around
the edges after turning. This will not hurt the cooking rate because the
sheet iron and tarp will be like an oven. This locating of hot coals is, of
course, to prevent grease fires. We have never had a large grease fire since
we started using the raised steel grate on the bottom of the pit. Before the
use of the steel grate we had some big-time grease fires that even Ward
would love.



18.Also after the hawg is turned you should baste (or pour) barbecue sauce
on the bottom side of the hawg which is now turned up. This doesn't get any
barbecue flavor into the meat, it only keeps the meat from getting dry on
this side, so any kind of sauce will do. We usually serve the barbecue sauce
on the side, so that people can have hot, or mild, or whatever they want, or
whatever you have to offer. Repeat this basting every couple of hours.



19.When the hawg is done (by definition he is done at 5 P.M., and at this
time he will bite the apple in two) pick him up by using the rods or sucker
rod grate and move him to a place in the food line on the saw horses. Use
two cutters, or pullers, on either side of the hawg. The best thing to do if
the hawg is cooked properly is for these pullers to put on the rubber gloves
(the thicker the glove the better because the meat will be hot) and simply
pull the meat off and pull it apart. Do not use swine experts or
veterinarians for this, as they don't seem to know the difference between a
ham and a tenderloin. Be careful to not break the skin, the grease (which
you will not notice dripping through) can ruin a good pair of Justin boots
in no time.




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