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Whole Hog

Discussion in 'Pork' started by solaryellow, Nov 6, 2013.

  1. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    Help me Tom Cruise!

    Alright guys, I am going to attempt my first whole hog on the smoker in about 2 weeks. We are looking at about 30 people. I was thinking about something in the 120 - 140lbs range. We get a lot of requests for these for weddings, but we usually decline them due to lack of experience. We are hoping to change that soon.

    Give me your best advice on temp, time, rub, and marinade/injection.
  2. bmudd14474

    bmudd14474 Legendary Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    im gonna do my first one in the spring so i look fwd to the advise that is given also.
  3. so ms smoker

    so ms smoker Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

      Solar, I think most of us are looking for a good tutorial. I know I can't help, so please document well!

  4. pigman jim

    pigman jim Fire Starter


    Some rules of thumb:
    • I plan around 1.5 to 2 lbs of pig per guest. A 120 lb hog for 30 people might mean leftovers for you. Of course that's not a bad thing (yum!), but plan on freezing or giving some pans of pork away. I usually get a 160 lb porker for 100 people and generally have some leftovers for our freezer.
    • I keep the temperature of the cooker low (above 200 and below 250 degrees) and cook my pig overnight and through the next day. Rule of thumb is an hour for each 10 lbs so, for your 120 pounder, plan at least 12 hours. That is laid out flat. If you cook it on a spit, it might be a bit faster.
    • For a rub, I'm a simple guy. Kosher salt and coarse ground pepper and rub it all over generously. But I make up for it with the marinade/mop. I mop the pig about every 1/2 hour to 1 hour. I create a concoction with either a gallon of dry white wine or vinegar, lots of fresh herbs, 3-4 heads of fresh garlic, roughly broken into cloves, and whatever I feel goes well from my spice cabinet (hows that for a precise recipe?). The mop should be part of your entertainment as well as to flavor the pig. I know a neighbor who gets a big mop bucket and a real cotton string mope (which are getting harder to find), and he swabs the pig ceremonially with his "secret blend". Keep in mind that the mop will forever smell like the marinade and be nasty grey color from the smoke/soot so don't use the family's favorite cleaning mop!
    • Pig temperature: USE A THERMOMETER!! I had a fellow who thought he could tell the internal temperature without a thermometer. It doesn't work. Make sure your thermometer is accurate and poke it several spots in the thick meaty parts of the ham. I make sure I can't find any spot on the pig below 155 degrees F. That will seem to take forever toward the end when guests are circling closer and closer, but don't fudge the temp. I then pull the pig off the heat and leave it for 15 to 30 minutes while getting the tables of side dishes set and ready to serve. That extra time allows the pig to be juicier, much like letting a roast sit for a while before carving it.
    • Timing: What will you do if you tell the guest the pig will be done at 4pm and it is still cooking? Or you see it is getting done at 2pm? Accept the likelihood and plan ahead!
    • If you see the pig is almost done a couple or more hours ahead, slow the coals down and let it coast up to temp. It won't hurt it to cook it an extra couple of hours. I had one screw-up where I had to slow cook a pig for 4 hours because (I found out later) the kids watching the fire overnight fell asleep and the fire was well above the low smoking temp I thought I had. I feared the pig would be all dried out. Nope! Still juicy and everyone loved it. I could tell a slight difference but for the most part, cooking a whole hog is a very forgiving process. If the pig is taking longer, a couple hours before serving time, crank the fire up a bit to boost the process. Meantime, have a helper (I recruit my wife) to start entertaining the crowds with some games ("Anyone for horseshoes to work up an appetite?"). Then some snacks to distract them. Make it seem like this is all part of the plan and the guests will love it. They may grumble about being hungry, but it will be good natured fun.
    • Key to a pig roast is fun! Lots of it. It should be a giant production with lots of ceremony. Don't plop the pig on the serving table, make a processional out of it! While the pig is cooking, make a big deal out of showing the cooking pig when you do the mopping. Have lots of fun and others will talk about it for a long time!
    Pig out and have a blast!

    Pigman Jim
    dirtsailor2003, hdflame and lpbg like this.
  5. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Going to tag along and see how this goes. I have never done my own pig, and the only ones that I have helped with were done buried in a pit.
  6. ravenclan

    ravenclan Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I hope we get some q-view !!!!

    I am going to watch this thread because i want to do a whole pig also.

    good luck with yours !!!
  7. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    That is very helpful Pigman Jim! How do you lay the pig out?
  8. pigman jim

    pigman jim Fire Starter

    I have the pig farmer open the pig and lay it out flat. To do that, he takes his hatchet and carefully chops into the spine all the way down to break it enough so the pig lays flat on my grill. Chopping the spine shouldn't go all the way through -- just enough to make sure it spreads out nicely.

  9. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Yeah Solar, you definitely have way more than enough for 30 people. The only thing I can say is that, although I am usually not a big fan of brining, whole hog really benefits from a nice soaking. Because you have to kind of find a happy medium for IT, brining can help some parts of the hog that would normally dry up a bit to stay nice and moist. I've never done a 140 pounder before so not sure what you can brine him in. Most weight I've done is about 90 lbs and lately have gone to the Caja roasting box with a smoke generator and Mojo brine and injection for the most flavorful, moist hog I've ever done. I'll post next week when I do one for the guys at work.
  10. Oh Wow! Forgive me for jumping on this and merely to say, "Now I am salivating and excited to see it!" Please post tons of pictures!!! That sounds incredible!

    OK then, I'll go mind my own business now, but wow! Wow! That's damn exciting!!! Cheers! - Leah
  11. pineywoods

    pineywoods SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member OTBS Admin SMF Premier Member

    Joel think about spatchcocking a chicken basically the same principle and result they usually use a hatchet from the inside and don't break through the skin
    solaryellow likes this.
  12. bmudd14474

    bmudd14474 Legendary Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Great info.

  13. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    Got confirmation from the farm that they will have a pig ready for us next Friday. Looking for some more input from all spectrums.

    Many thanks to the tips so far. :drool
  14. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

  15. smokeusum

    smokeusum Smoking Fanatic

    Awesome!! How exciting!!!
  16. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Here is a 60 pounder I did yesterday in a caja roasting box. I had it brined for two days and injected with Mojo marinade.
    There's the AMAZN pellet tube...works great in the caja asidora.

    Here's after 3 hours flipped over to roast the other side.
    Total time cooking was about 6 hours with a perfect hickory / oak smoke flavor. So moist and tender with a crispy skin. Pulled it after dark so no finished photos. Had neighbors and some of my work crew over so basically this thing got ripped into and devoured pretty quick. I won't spend time roasting whole hog for 20 or more hours again. I've been smoking a long time and this is the 3rd pig in the caja box with Todd's AMAZN smoke tube and for whole hog, this is the way to go for me. A ton of flavor, great touch of smoke along with super moist meat makes this a real treat. Took some of the skin and cut it into strips and dropped them into a deep fryer for a couple of minutes to make great cracklins. Being able to do whole hog like this in 6 hours is fantastic.

    Last edited: Nov 16, 2013
  17. That's wild!!!! Fantastic!!! Cheers! - Leah
  18. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    Looks good Geerock! I will be using a large reverse flow fueled by hickory.

    I think I about have it figured out. I want to use a tangier mop/injection than I normally use, so I have a little bit of work to do. My pig should be ready for pick up on Friday and I am getting excited. :biggrin: