Cooking whole hogs in underground pit

Discussion in 'Catering & Large Group Gatherings' started by cowgirl, Oct 14, 2007.

  1. cowgirl

    cowgirl Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    The method of cooking meat in an underground pit has been around for years. The meat turns out so tender and juicy with just a small amount of effort. There is no need to tend the fire, turn the food, add wood or coals. The underground pit does all of the work.

    You can use this method to cook anything from whole hogs, venison quarters, turkeys, briskets, to pots of beans. You can even do them all at once. You just need a hole in the ground large enough to hold them.

    When doing a large hog, (this one was over 200lbs)...we start burning the wood at about 7 PM and try to get the hog in the ground by 10PM.
    After the hog is buried, there is nothing left to do until morning. About 10 AM we check the meat.

    Smaller hogs take anywhere from 8 to 12 hours.


    Prepare the hog of your choice for cooking, you can skin the hog or scald and scrape, which ever you prefer. When not eating the skin, we have even used a blow torch to remove the hair. It also removes a layer of skin and works perfectly.

    Dig a pit large enough to lay the hog in and deep enough for a 6 to 8 inch bed of hot coals.
    The hog will lay on top of the hot coals, so the bed needs to be deep enough to lay a sheet of tin over the top of the hole to cover the hog.

    This pig was over 200lbs.


    You need to burn enough wood to make a 6 to 8 inch bed of hot coals. This usually takes 2 to 3 hours. (It's a party in itself!)

    After you have a nice thick bed of hot coals, place a sheet of tin on top......the seasoned and wrapped meat goes on the sheet of tin.

    A word about not used galvanized. If you HAVE to use galvanized, burn it with a blow torch or on a fire before using.
    Same with chicken wire, some folks say that the heat is not high enough to give off harmful fumes, but you can burn the tin and wire with a blow torch to play it safe.

    Also, hang onto your tin for the next cookout, you can use it over and over.


    The old timers used wet burlap to wrap meat. It's getting harder to find around here, so I use foil.
    I like to season the meat with my favorite dry rub, also I like to place apples, onions and brown sugar in the cavity of the adds so much flavor. You can add anything you like.

    After the meat is seasoned, wrap it in wet burlap OR foil, also use a small amount of chicken wire. The wire helps hold the tender meat on the bone and also helps when it's time to remove the hog from the pit.


    A large sheet of tin is placed over the hot coals, the wrapped hog is placed on top of tin.
    Another sheet of tin is placed over top..........then buried with dirt. Cover the whole sheet of tin with dirt.
    Make sure the edges of the tin are sealed with dirt, if you see any smoke coming out from the edges of the tin, put more dirt on it. You want an air tight seal.
    This makes sort of an underground oven.

    Let this cook overnight for large hogs, at least 8 to 12 hours for small ones.


    The finished pork is fall apart tender. You can place the whole hog on a table and let people serve themselves, or pile the meat on a tray with sauces on the side.

    Any leftover pork freezes well.......makes great sandwiches, tamales, enchiladas, etc..

    This was taken from my measly little blog.... [​IMG]
  2. Now that would be a great thing to do with some friends. You made it easy to understand for someone who has never done anything like that.

    Thanks, great job!! (Love the blog too)
  3. blackhawk19

    blackhawk19 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That's cool, great narrative and pictures[​IMG]
  4. gypsyseagod

    gypsyseagod Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    great thread- i haven't done it since leaving hawaii. no foil then,used burlap & taro & banana leaves.
  5. short one

    short one Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Very nice post Cowgirl. One thing we did different when I helped with roasts of this kind was after raking the coals down, we would cover the coals with sand a couple three inches deep to kill the heat and let us place the meat in the pit easier. Just my .02 worth. Again this is a very informative thread.
  6. cowgirl

    cowgirl Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks folks.[​IMG]
    I did leave out one picture....I can't find one of the whole thing buried. It looks like a pile of dirt. lol

    Thanks Lisa, I might add to that blog when cold weather sets in.

    Gypsyseagod...Wish I could still get some good clean burlap...I do like to use it better than foil.

    Shortone, sand sounds good too. I don't have any here on the farm, but could get some pretty easily. I might have to give it a try. Thanks.[​IMG]

    Blackhawk, welcome home, hope you had a great weekend.
  7. goat

    goat Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I have seen the meat placed in wet burlap sacks and placed directly on the coals. It did not burn the sacks, just hook a wire loop in the top of the sack and lift out of the pit.
  8. deejaydebi

    deejaydebi Smoking Guru

    Great job Cowgirl! Nice play by play! [​IMG]
  9. cowgirl

    cowgirl Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yeah goat, that wet burlap seems to steam the meat while cooking. It comes out so moist.
    Now days feed comes in plastic bags or by the ton.......I miss the good old burlap.[​IMG]

    Thank you Debi!! [​IMG]
  10. chadpole

    chadpole Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Cowgirl, you did a great job on this thread. It was very informative and for anyone who has not done this before ,it gave them the details to get started on a hog themselves. I used to do hogs this way until I made a trailer smoker that would hold a couple of them. I guess you could say I got a little lazy after I did it in a drum smoker. The problem we had was not getting enough help. For just two people doing all the work it would just about kill ya. When time came to serve up the hog you wanted to find a place to lay down and sleep instead of have fun with the crowd that showed up to eat. I'll bet alot of folks on this forum can relate to this. People love to come eat ,but try and get them to help you cook and see who shows up.Anyway good job!! I wished I was younger again so I could do this method again.
  11. walking dude

    walking dude Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    you try looking up tater sacks?

    used to use them for putting catfish, when i run lines........doesn't stress em as bad as a stringer does

  12. cowgirl

    cowgirl Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thank you chadpole..[​IMG]

    Having a tractor to dig the pit sure is a big plus....also starting it in the evening and letting it cook all night is another must.
    At least I can sleep while it's cooking.
    With the cinderblock method, I have to keep an eye on it and add coals every hour.
    I've never had trouble getting volunteers to help with the fire and getting the large hogs into the pit..that's nice.
    I am able to clean a hog by myself too, so that's not a problem.

    I know what you mean takes some cinderblock pit is pretty darned easy to use (without any digging[​IMG] )

    But there is something about the meat from a pig that has been's so tender and juicy and ..........hmmmm I don't know, special? lol!
  13. cowgirl

    cowgirl Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Walking Dude, I will try to find some. Thanks for the tip!![​IMG]
  14. deejaydebi

    deejaydebi Smoking Guru

    Gee and I had to go all the way to Hawaii to eat buried pig! I should've gone to Oklahoma!
  15. moltenone

    moltenone Smoking Fanatic

    wow that was very informative i'm going to have to do this thanks for the
    post .

  16. cowgirl

    cowgirl Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    LOL! Debi, If I had a choice, I'd go back to Hawaii and eat one on the beach. Mine are pretty good, but I can't compete with the beach. [​IMG]

    Mark, thank you! [​IMG] The underground method works great for other meats too. Sometimes I bury turkeys, briskets, hams, venison roasts and pots of beans all in the same pit. I just let them cook over night.
  17. ron50

    ron50 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That's a lot of great information, thanks for sharing it :)
  18. cowgirl

    cowgirl Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thank you Ron! [​IMG]

    When I get to know you folks a bit better, I'll share my stories of floating down the river in an 8' stock tank...(country fun at it's best)
    It's not really smoking forum material, but it does involve cooking on a hibachi. lol
  19. moltenone

    moltenone Smoking Fanatic

    cowgirl what kind of temp is maintained in a pit like this?

  20. cowgirl

    cowgirl Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I honestly do not know Mark. The coals get no air, the tin over the top has to be buried so that no air can get smoke escapes.
    This way no flair ups can occur.

    You have to burn quite a bit of wood to get a nice 6 to 8 inch bed of hot coals...they have to last all night.
    Sorry... I do not know what temperature the pit maintains.

    Hmmm, I have one of those remote thermometers....I might have to give it a try.

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