How to Roast a Pig

Three Methods:Using the GrillUsing a RotisserieUsing a Rock-lined Pit

Roasting a pig is a big job with big rewards. Whether you choose to use a grill, rotisserie, or pit, your results are sure to be finger lickin' good. Just make sure your family or guests come to your pig roast with an empty stomach.

Things You'll Need

Grilling Method

  • Grill
  • Charcoal or a 40 lb. gas cylinder
  • Chicken wire
  • Meat thermometer
  • Pig (with seasoning)

Rotisserie Method

  • Rotisserie with thermometer
  • Charcoal (30 + pounds)
  • Tin foil
  • Pig (with seasoning)

Pit Method

  • A large backyard
  • Rocks
  • Wood and fire starter
  • Banana leaves
  • Burlap or canvas tarp
  • Shovel
  • Pig

Method 1
Using the Grill

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    Set the temperature of your grill around 200 to 250ºF (93.3 to 121.1ºC). Generally, grills will have a built in thermometer where you can monitor the temperature. However, if your grill doesn’t have a thermometer, you insert a large meat thermometer into the top vent to check the temperature.
    • If possible, place your grill in a shielded area where wind will not hit it directly. Wind and the outside temperature can have an effect on the internal temperature of the grill.
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    Put charcoal in your grill. Roasting your pig requires that you grill it over charcoal. Light your charcoal and let it burn until it has turned a nice ash-grey color. Place a heavy piece of wire roughly the size of the pig you intend to cook onto the grill. The wire should be roughly 13 inches (33.0 cm) above the now ash-grey charcoal.
    • If you are using a gas grill, you will need to use approximately one 40 pound cylinder of gas to complete this project.
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    Split the rib bones of the pig at its spine. Doing this will help it to lie flat in the grill. Try not to pierce the skin at all with the ribs. Lay the pig onto the wire so that it is skin-side up and as flat as it can possibly go. Place another piece of wire on top of the pig so that it is sandwiched in between the two pieces of wire.
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    Estimate the cooking time. There are quite a few factors that will determine how long your pig actually needs to be cooked--weight of the pig, temperature of the coals, temperature outside, etc. However, here is a rough approximation of the cooking time it should take to cook your pig:
    • 75 pound pig: Cooking over 60 pounds of charcoal, your pig should cook in six to seven hours.
    • 100 pound pig: Cooking over 70 pounds of charcoal, your pig should cook in 7 to 8 hours.
    • 125 pound pig: Cooking over 80 pounds of charcoal, your pig should cook in 8 to 9 hours.
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    Rotate your pig and check the internal temperature. Halfway through the cooking process (so after roughly 3.5 to 4 hours), you should flip your pig so that the skin-side now faces down. Your pig will be done cooking when its internal temperature is 160 °F (71 °C).
    • Stick the meat thermometer into the ham of the pig as it will give you the best reading of the thermometer because it is the largest part of the pig. The ham is the hind thigh and upper back leg of the pig.

Method 2
Using a Rotisserie

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    Turn the rotisserie off while you are setting the pig up. It is dangerous to keep your rotisserie on while you are loading the pig and charcoal into it. Instead, only plug it in when everything is set up and your pig is good to go.
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    Place your pig onto the rotisserie bar. The way you do this will depend on your specific rotisserie. Follow the instructions that came with your rotisserie to make sure that you are doing it correctly. Remember that you should cook the pig approximately 12 inches (30.5 cm) away from the heat source. You will most likely need to tie the pig’s feet to the support bar in your rotisserie.
    • Cover the pig’s ears and tail with tin foil to keep these parts from charring.
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    Arrange your charcoal. Use approximately 30 pounds of charcoal. Lay the charcoal out in two rows under the pig, roughly 12 inches (30.5 cm) apart from one another. Directly under the pig, lay a drip pan or lay out some sand to catch the dripping from the pig and reduce the mess it makes.[1]
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    Have extra charcoal on hand. During the cooking, you will need to add roughly 10 pounds of charcoal per hour to the coal that is already in the rotisserie. It is recommended that you use a ‘burn barrel’ to get the coals started in before adding them.
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    Watch your temperature while you cook. You should estimate your cooking time by following the rule that you should cook your pig one hour for every 10 pounds of meat. The temperature of the rotisserie should never go over 225º F (107.2ºC) for the first two hours that you are cooking your pig.[2]
    • Have a bucket or pail of water on hand so that you can put out any flare-ups that might occur.
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    Remove your pig. When the internal temperature of the pig reaches 170ºF (76.6ºC), your pig is done. The best way to check the internal temperature is by sticking the thermometer in the ham, or thigh, of the pig. When it is done, remove it from the rotisserie and let it ‘rest’ for 20 minutes before you carve it up.

Method 3
Using a Rock-lined Pit

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    Dig your pit. You should dig your hole so that it is two and a half to three feet deep. The diameter of your pit should be roughly five to seven feet, depending on how large your pig is. Line your pit with rocks to keep the fire in.
    • In Hawai’i, this method is known as using an Imu pit.
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    Build a fire inside the rock pit. When the fire is going, place some smaller round rocks inside the fire so that they can begin to heat up. These will be the rocks that you place inside the pig so you should consider washing them free of dirt before you put them in the fire.[3]
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    Wait for the fire to burn down. When the fire is closer to embers than roaring flame, dress you pig. Place your pig on a piece of chicken wire long enough to fit the whole pig on to it. On the insides and under the legs, make small slits that will be able to fit the small rocks currently heating in the fire.
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    Place the stones in the pig when they are hot. You should put the stores in the abdominal cavity of the pig, as well as in the slits you made under the legs. Use tongs so that you do not burn yourself. Tie the front legs together with twine, then proceed to tying the back legs. Once this is done, wrap the pig in the chicken wire so that it is easy to carry.
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    Cover the coals and rocks in the hole with banana leaves. You can also use corn stalks or other varieties of leaves, or even grass clippings. Make sure the the entire hole is covered in the foliage of your choice.[4]
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    Lower the pig down into the hole. Once it is lying flat in the hole, cover it with more leaves. Wet a large piece of burlap or canvas and lay it on top of the pig and leaves. The burlap (or canvas) is used to keep the heat of the stones and coals inside, so the pig steams. Shovel dirt or gravel onto the canvas, covering the whole thing.
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    Let the pig steam. The length of time you will need to let the pig stay in the pit depends on the size of the pig. In general, a 50 pound pig should remain in the pit for two and a half hours. If your pig is larger than that, plan on letting your pig cook for upwards of four hours. Because the pig is steaming, it won’t burn and the pig will actually be at its best if left to cook for a whole 20 hours.[5]
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    Uncover the pig. When the pig is done cooking, remove the layers covering it and pull it from the hole. Let the pig rest for 10 to 20 minutes before carving it up.

Article Info

Categories: Food Preparation