Our First Pig in the Ground!

One year ago:  Let me tell you, this was probably one of our favorite gatherings with friends! (Next to the year we had an “exotic meats” party, more on that another time) I decided to write about this as sort of a “how to” or “what we’d do different next time” (Which happens to be coming up next week for my birthday)

Pit Hole DiggingFirst?  You’re going to need to dig a hole.  Not just any hole, I’m talking a labor intensive, back breaking hole!  We were expecting around 50 people for this event so, we decided to use a 125-140 pound pig for our feast.  The hole required to fit this beast ended up being approximately 3 feet deep by 4 feet wide.  We were fortunate enough to have a good friend who owns a landscaping business swing by with his crew to help us finish up this massive hole in the ground!

Brine baby

Now, let’s back up a bit to see what needs to take place prior to the dirt fest.  You’re going to need a pig of course!  You’re also going to need something massive to brine this pig.  I chose to purchase a new heavy duty plastic feed trough from our local supply store.  I knew we would have plenty of uses for this after the roast n toast so it was a cost I was willing to deal with.  Then came the fun part; the Brine!  I used A LOT of Apple Cider, Apple Cider Vinegar, Apple Juice, Water, Brown Sugar, Salt, Coriander Seeds, Black Peppercorn, Onions and Apples.

roast n toast stuffingWe let our piggy sit in the brine for 2 days prior to pulling him out to wrap him up for the pit.  Since we were doing this part outdoors, it required A LOT of ice to keep the temperature out of the danger zone.  Leaving food out too long at room temperature can cause bacteria (such as Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella Enteritidis,Escherichia coli O157:H7, and Campylobacter) to grow to dangerous levels that can cause illness. Bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. This range of temperatures is often called the “Danger Zone.”  Needless to say, I’m a stickler for food safety.  It’s embedded in my DNA and a huge part of my corporate career as well.

Once our piggy had been the brine for a few days it was time to stuff and wrap her up.  I chose to stuff her with more apples and onions.   Back to the pit!  We had soaked an enormous amount of Apple Wood Chips and bought what felt like a lifetime supply of briquettes.  We had plenty of wood around the property to add to the heat thank heaven!  We threw the briquettes and wood into the pit and started her up

Fire                                Testing the fire

Time to wrap this baby up and get it in the ground!  This part was interesting.  We used chicken wire first and unrolled enough of it out to encircle the pig.  We added a layer of tinfoil and then banana leaves on top of the foil. (These help with keeping skin, etc…from burning too much)  We placed the pig on top and proceeded to finish stuffing.  (Hindsight, I should have attempted to sew the cavity shut to help hold all this goodness in.  We had great luck keeping most of it intact but, I felt it would have added to keeping the meat super moist) It took a few of us to bend and maneuver the chicken wire while others helped tie it off to hold it all together.  The beast was now ready to hit the ground!  I thanked our beloved pork friend for the abundance of food we were going to receive and let the boys take her to the pit.

     Thank you piggy                                      roast n toast

She made it into the ground around 8PM that evening.  We covered her with dirt and pretty much prayed at this point.  Since this was our first pit pig and virtually every bit of information I found online was pretty scarce, I was a complete wreck overnight worrying about the temperature inside the now covered hole.  (Another tip here.  We should have made a chimney of sorts to allow air flow.  We’re doing this 100% with our next pig roast) I woke up periodically throughout the night and finally at 6AM I couldn’t take the anxiety any longer.  I pulled my husband out of his peaceful slumber and threw coffee in one hand and a shovel in his other.  We uncovered enough dirt to get our thermometer into the pig.  140 degrees!  I was panicking!  “Not hot enough!”, I said.  We started heating the pit back up all around the pig.  We used the shovel to roll it from side to side to get more heat underneath.  We decided at this point to leave her uncovered for the rest of the cooking process.

With many temp readings later, it was now 3 PM.  Guests had already arrived and we decided it was time to pull her out and see how we did.  :::laughing:::  I’ve never been so nervous feeding people in my life!  What if this turned out awful or burnt or under-cooked?  What if this pig was in the danger zone too long?  Would I make us all sick?

We pulled this pig out of the earth with everyone watching.  The boys started unwrapping the chicken wire, banana leaves and foil.  There it was!  It looked great!  We had a few burnt skin areas that I attributed to the quick re-heating of the pit earlier that morning but overall?  She looked beautiful!

Some Pig       roast n toast 5

I guess I expected I would carve the pig and put it on serving trays but that didn’t really happen.  The moment our guests saw her come out of the ground our Roast n Toast turned into a “Pig Picking”.  LOL!  I finished with the knife and took what can only be described as an astronomical amount of meat from our beloved piggy.  What a day!  Completely exhausted but totally worth all the hard work and energy!   Delicious in every way!  For now?  I was at peace with a full belly and so were our guests.  Mission accomplished!  We are truly looking forward to our next pig roast here in a week.  I’ve got many tweaks for the brine recipe, including a brilliant injection recipe I came up with!  My husband has been busy building and designing our new pit with chimney stack included.   Until then?  If you have any pig roasting ideas, we’d love to hear them!

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