My husband and I throw an annual pig roast for our close family and friends for no other reason than we like to cook and throw a party. For our Pig Roast 2011, Dan and I decided to go all out this year and roast a pig completely from scratch, completely on our own. It really boils down to 4 easy steps: brine, marinade, roast, then glaze. If we can do it, so can you!
We have rented a propane pig roaster in years past for this party. Renting a roaster is not cheap, so this year, we bought this much more inexpensive roaster on-line. It’s a charcoal roaster which appealed to Dan because the flavor of meat cooked over charcoal is just so much better, and the price of this roaster will redeem itself in 2 years.
The roaster is no where near the sturdiness of the iron (?) propane fed roasters we’ve rented in previous years, but the cost and better flavor were too tempting to pass up.
Note: The roaster was washed before we cooked the pig, and no dogs were harmed in the making of this pig.
4 Steps to Roast a Pig
Dan followed this general plan for roasting our pig:
- Brine – The pig was laid in an extra large cooler on it’s back on a bed of ice. The cavity of the pig was filled with a brine and sat there for 12 hours.
- Injecting and Marinading – Using an food grade injector, Dan injected some of the marinade into the muscles of the pig. Then the remainder of the marinade was poured into the cavity of the pig. The pig remained on its back, on ice, in the cooler for another 12 hours.
- Roasting – The pig was secured in the rack provided by La Caja China, lowered into the box (skin down), the box was covered with the lid, and charcoal was ignited on top to roast the pig. Roasting took about 5.5 hours.
- Glazing – To get that awesome, crispy skin, a sweet and sour glaze was brushed on the skin of the pig then the pig was lowered back into the box, skin up, and roasted for another 30 minutes. This allowed the skin to tighten and crisp up, resulting in some fabulous chicharrones.
His sources were the website for the roaster, La Caja China, and Adam Perry Lang’s Crispy Suckling Pig with Spicy Sweet-Sour Glaze.
Make the Marinade and Sauces
Since all of the instructions are listed on the website, I’ll just highlight how we did it.
40 Cloves of garlic. Do you know how many that is? A bazillion basically.
Grating the garlic…
**Safety Note: Wear gloves when shredding the garlic. Garlic can BURN your skin! How do we know, you might ask? Dan lost a layer of skin on his forefinger, thumb, and middle finger where he was holding the garlic. No joke. It is quite painful too. If you do get burned, hold the burned skin in yogurt or milk for 25 minutes. You will not start to feel relief until about minute 20. I’m so sorry if you’ve been through this, it is truly terrible. Ask Dan.**
Dan tackled the garlic, bless his
heart fingers, while I made the rest of the marinade. I was finished long before he was. We are old school. We grated every single clove by hand.
The marinade is ready to go!
If you read the instructions, you will see we were supposed to strain the marinade. We didn’t. It was chunky. It still tasted lovely.
We decided to make two homemade sauces this year. We were a little afraid that people wouldn’t like them, so we did put out one bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s.
I was shocked when people deliberately ate the store-bought sauce instead of homemade. They didn’t even try the homemade! How do you know you don’t like it if you don’t try it? Are we so used to mass-produced products we cannot imagine the joys of homemade cooking? Can’t we live outside our comfort zone?
I digress. New foods are my life, but I guess that’s not true for everyone. Their loss.
What were we doing? Right. Sauces.
We made two sauce from the Barbecue Bible: Mojo (Cuban Citris Garlic Sauce) and Sweet and Smokey Barbecue Sauce.
Mojo (Cuban Citrus Garlic Sauce)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 8 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced crosswise
- 2/3 cup fresh sour orange juice or 1/2 cup fresh lime juice and 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice (We used Simply Orange juice)
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
- 1-1/2 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher or sea), or more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
Heat olive oil in deep sauce pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant and pale golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Stir in orange juice, water, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring sauce to a rolling boil, correct the seasoning, adding salt and pepper if needed. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature then add cilantro or parsley.
Eat immediately or store covered in the refrigerator. Will keep for several weeks.
Sweet and Smokey Barbecue Sauce
Honey-Pepper Barbeque Sauce
A sweet and savory barbecue sauce by Steven Raichlen's Barbecue! Bible.
diced green bell pepper
diced red bell pepper
diced yellow bell pepper
seeded and finely chopped (We, of course, left the seeds in!)
7up or Sprite
dark brown sugar
or more to taste
freshly ground black pepper
kosher or sea
Pour honey into a saucepan. Add peppers, onion, and jalapeno and "saute" over medium heat until the peppers are soft and the onion translucent, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer the sauce, uncovered, until thick, 15 minutes.
Transfer the sauce to a blender and puree until smooth. Correct the seasoning, adding salt, vinegar, or brown sugar if needed.
Use immediately or cover and store in the fridge. Will keep for several months.
Roasting the Pig
With the sauces and marinade ready to go, Dan started the brine. Twelve hours of brine then twelve hours of marinade. These two steps took a lot of time, but the pig just laid in a cooler on ice and soaked. The flavor payoff was worth it. Don’t skip these two steps!
Brine and marinade complete, here’s Wilbur ready to enter the roaster!
Starting the charcoal…
Now for hours of just chillin’ and watching the fire…
Thankfully, it was a beautiful night. Dan and my brother Zach stayed up all night to keep watch. In previous years we’ve been able to just check on the pig every 2 hours, but with the exposed coals, someone had to stay out in the driveway all night.
And now to see the fruits of Dan’s labor! After the glaze and 1/2 hour of more cooking in the roaster, Wilbur’s done! Isn’t he lovely? Look at the lovely color of the skin and those hash marks. Beautiful!
We are living proof that anyone can roast a pig. Like all good things in life, it takes effort, but each step is really not too difficult. However, it is a time consuming and sleep-reducing process. Roasting a pig really comes down to four basic steps: brine, marinade, roast, then glaze/tighten the skin. Easy-peasy, right?