Preparing For A Feast: How To Smoke A Whole Pig
A Promising Start
Have you ever wanted to go "whole hog" with your smoking? Have you been struggling with ways to feed a large crowd? Do you love smoked pork so much that you can never seem to get your fill? If you answered affirmatively to any of these questions, have I got the guide for you. I love it when I have enough time off from work to smoke an entire pig in my back yard while hang out with my friends and family; it can be a big hit for reuniting with friends and family who have grown distant.
Smoking a whole hog is a considerably more time-consuming challenge than smoking just portions of a pig. One of the biggest issues in smoking an entire pig is having the space to store the carcass as it smokes to deliciousness. While you may be able to find a smoker big enough to accommodate an entire pig's body, it is demonstrably cheaper to grab some shovels and dig up a modest-sized portion of the backyard owned by you, a friend or one of your family members and use that pit as the base of operations for smoking an entire pig.
Every Tool and Ingredient You Will Need to Smoke a Whole Pig
When you set out to smoke an entire pig, supplies become more a matter of quantity over quality. Because pigs are available in a great range of weights, this ingredient list will not cover weights and amounts. Remember that cooking is all about experimentation, so feel free to play around with different seasonings and spices.
- Whole pig.
- A sharp knife.
- Several wooden boards.
- Aluminum foil.
- Shovels. This item can be ignored if you already have access to a pit that accommodates your pig.
- Apple juice or apple cider vinegar.
- Kosher salt.
- Wood or charcoal. Wood is preferred.
- Metal grate wide enough for the pig to rest upon it.
- Several long hooks to manipulate hot metal.
- One or more helpers.
- A vented lid slightly wider than the pit.
- Durable paper bag, like the kind used for holding charcoal.
The Play by Play on Whole-Hog Heating
1. Prepare the Pig
Before you can begin smoking the pig, you need to remove all of the unpleasant, inedible parts. Fill a metal wash tub with water and then heat it to boiling. Place the pig on some boards. Carefully pour the boiling water over the pig and begin shaving off the hair.
Make a careful incision into the pig and remove the various organ meats, stomach and so forth. All you want to cook is the pig's fat, skin and muscle within the pig. Try to keep the skin intact as much as possible, this will protect the loins and hams from drying out before the rest of the pig finishes smoking. Finish by injecting your preferred apple liquid into the hams and shoulders, covering the ears and snout with foil and saturating the insides and outsides with kosher salt.
2. Prime the Pit and Lower the Pig
If you do not have a pit on hand, go ahead and grab your helpers and some shovels and dig out a pit sufficiently sized for your pig. Line the bottom of the pit with wood or heated charcoal and place the grate. Once you are ready to lower the pig into the pit, do so with the pig oriented face down and skin up. Place more of your chosen heat source under the shoulders and hams and keep the heat away from the ribs. Finish the set up by placing your lid over the pit.
3. Check on Things Periodically
You want to keep a consistent smoke temperature between 225°F and 250°F. For the first four hours, your focus should be on the temperature of your pit and not how hot the meat is. Beginning at the fourth hour, start checking the hams and shoulders for an internal temperature of 195. Check on things every hour with the infrared thermometer and know that this can take anywhere from 14 to 18 hours, depending on the weight of your particular porker; a good rule of thumb is it takes 90 minutes plus one hour per pound to fully smoke a pig. You want to look for where the skin around the shoulders and hams begins to pucker up.
4. Turn the Porker
Once you think the skin has puckered, jab at it and see if the meat slides off-when you can just pull a bone free without resistance. If this also proves true, call upon your assistants to help you turn the pig. Take your durable paper bag, open it up so that it is a flat sheet, set it aflame, grasp at it with your tongs and then spread it out across the skin. This is a trick that southern pit masters have used to turn smoked pig skin deliciously nice and crispy.
5. Regulate the Heat
As previously mentioned, cooking your pig will take more than half a day. You want to plan things so that you will finish cooking hours before its time to serve the pig. this gives you some wiggle room to bring the pig to the ideal temperature range of 195°F to 205°F, measured at the shoulder. If you get an unexpected rise in temperature, lower the temperature in the smoker-pour some water over a small portion of the heat source or toss in some ice. You may also want to consider killing the heat of your smoker for an hour or two, just long enough to bring the temperature under control.
6. Remove the Pig from the Pit
Once your pig has sufficiently cooked through. It is time for you to extricate the pig from its vessel of smoke and metal, using the metal hooks to lift the pig up by the grate, and then transfer it to wherever you plan to put your carving and knife skills to work. Alternatively, you may want to serve your smoked pork on its back and let your guests just pull the super-tender meat directly off of the carcass. If you take this approach, remember to leave sauces near the carcass so that your guests can immediately apply sauce after plating up some of your he prized pig.
That's a Wrap
It is my sincere hope that you readers have enjoyed this especially involved tutorial on everything involved when it comes to smoking a massive singular pile of pork. I love preparing smoked pork from an entire carcass just as much as my guests enjoy the taste and love I put into the process and I hope that this guide has inspired a similar level of passion within yourselves. That said, I never professed to be the supreme master on the subject. Whether you have any comments on the methodology used in this guide or you just want to share your own experiences in preparing an entire pig for the smokehouse, feel free to leave a comment below. Alternatively, if you want to hint to future guests that you will be doing this for a big and upcoming event, feel free to excite them by sharing this article.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to smoke a whole pig?
In general, you should plan for at least a half day to smoke a whole pig. It can take as little as four to six hours for a smaller pig, but as many as eight or nine hours for a larger pig. In addition to cooking time, you’ll need to account for prep time, including readying the pig itself as well as the pit and the fire. Then, once the pig is done, it will also take some time to get it ready to serve on the plate. It’s a long process, so it’s always best to give yourself a few extra hours to make sure no one is waiting around hungry!
How much does a whole pig cost?
Most grocery stores don’t just carry a whole pig, so you’ll want to call around to local butcher shops and special-order one. Some pigs can cost over $3 per pound, but sometimes the butcher will give you a better deal if you order a larger pig.
Can you roast a whole pig on a Traeger grill?
Many Traeger smokers are large enough to fit an entire pig! You’ll want to look for a suckling pig (one that weighs about 20 pounds) or a smaller pig (around 60 pounds) depending on the size of your Traeger. For best results, ask the butcher to split the pig in half and remove the head to make sure it will easily fit inside your grill.
How do you serve a smoked whole pig?
There are a few options when it comes to serving your whole pig. Some people prefer to shred the meat and serve it up on platters. Others like to include whole cuts and allow their guests to pull the meat themselves. No matter how you decide to serve it, make sure you have plenty of napkins nearby. The experience is usually a messy one, but worth it when you taste a bite of the delicious meat!
How much meat will you get from a whole pig?
On average, you will usually lose about 50 percent of the raw weight of the meat. That means a 20 pound suckling pig would yield about 10 pounds of edible meat, and a 60 pound hog would yield about 30 pounds of meat. Since each person will eat about 4 to 6 ounces of meat, you should approximate a half pound to three-quarters pound of uncooked meat per person at your party. So, a suckling pig would feed 25 to 40 people.