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People's Pig Wood-Fired Grill: Portland Pig for the People

People's Pig Wood-Fired Grill: Portland Pig for the People

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Portland Pig for the People

No prizes for guessing what the signature meat is at this popular sandwich truck People's Pig Wood-Fired Grill (formerly The People's Pig), which has its own mesquite grill, in downtown Portland. The meat is hormone- and antibiotic- (though happily not fat-) free, and while there is a changing daily menu — flank steak and even chicken have been know to appear — you can always count on porchetta, boneless roast pork roast seasoned with garlic, rosemary, and fennel.

How to Roast a Pig on a Spit

Roasting a whole piglet on a spit is much easier than you'd probably think, and vastly more tasty than you can imagine.

We roast a pig every year for my sister's birthday right in her backyard in Brooklyn. If we can do it in the middle of New York, you can probably do it where you are as well.

Roasting whole animals has an unrivaled celebratory appeal that taps into one or the other of the primal centers of our brains, and nothing comes close to touching a whole young hog.


When purchasing a whole pig, plan on having about one pound of dead weight per person, which translates to around six ounces of meat after cooking and discarding the bones. The best pigs for roasting on a spit are under 90 pounds. Young pigs have extremely gelatinous and relatively low-fat flesh that practically melts as you cook it, oozing rich, sticky, porky juices. Older pigs have more fat, but their meat can begin to get drier and tougher, and are better suited for more gentle applications like Southern barbecue.

Since you're not going to be adding much flavoring to the animal, the quality of the pig is the biggest factor that's going to affect it's final flavor. Look for a happy, naturally raised animal which has had access to pasture. Ours came from Hemlock Hill Farms in Westchester, just outside of the city. Buying direct from the farm will save you a lot of money—particularly if you live in a city like NY where butchers will mark up the price around 200%.

You'll generally have to place an order for a pig at least a week in advance to allow time for slaughter and proper hanging of the animal. Young pigs have to be hung after slaughter for a few days in order to allow the muscles to relax after rigor mortis has set in.

Once you've got your pig, you can store it overnight in garbage bag in a bathtub covered in ice if necessary. Just remember to remove the pig before showering.

Equipment and Ingredients

The biggest piece of equipment you'll need is a spit. I don't know anyone who owns their own spit, but fortunately many farms that sell small pigs will also rent spits out for a relatively minimal fee. Call your local farms and inquire.

  • Charcoal briquettes. You can be all macho and use hardwood coal instead of briquettes, but I find it burns too fast and too hot, and is difficult to maintain the slow, even heat necessary for prolonged cooking. Plan on at least one pound of coals per pound of pig, but have an extra 25 pounds or so on hand. You don't want to make a coal run in the middle of the roast.
  • A chimney starter. It's the most efficient way to light a batch of coals.
  • A long set of tongs for arranging the coals underneath the pig during cooking.
  • Kosher salt is the only seasoning you need. The pig should have plenty of flavor on its own. Rub the salt generously on the pig inside and out.
  • Beer and friends. The pig will take about an hour and 15 minutes per 10 pounds. It's gonna be a long, lazy day of pig-spinning, so make sure you are amply lubricated and the company is good.

The Process

The most crucial step is securing the pig to the spit. Dead pigs are heavy, and unless they are extremely well secured, they have a tendency to flop around as the spit turns if you don't secure them properly. The slideshow will teach you a method that involves strapping the spine to the spit to ensure your pig stays nice and secure.

The cooking itself is a lazy process. Once you get the coals under the pig and the pig turning (most spits have an electric motor to rotate the pig automatically), you can sit back and relax, tending to it only once every half hour or so to ensure that the coals are still hot and the pig is not over or undercooking.

Low and slow is the goal. If your pig starts taking on a burnished color within the first hour, you're going too fast. Either slow down the rate at which you are adding coals, or raise the pig a few inches from the heat source (most spits are also adjustable in height).

The last half hour is where all the skin-crisping crackly magic happens, and requires high heat, so you'll want to pile on the coals at the very end, rotating the pig as necessary to expose every inch of skin to the intense blast of heat. If all goes well, it'll bubble into blistery pustules that crackle and dissolve in your mouth. Yum.

If you've never roasted a whole pig or attended a pig roast, I can't recommend it more strongly. It's guaranteed to be the highlight of your summer, and you'll become a local hero.

Just be sure to keep the invite list under tight control and limit the number of extra guests people are allowed to bring. Once word of a pig roast starts spreading, you'll literally have strangers coming in off the street for a sample. We were unscrupulous with our invite policy a couple years ago and ended up with over 150 guests all trying to eat off of a 70 pound pig. Needless to say, most went home hungry.

Suckling Pig Recipe

Suckling Pig are a BBQ delicacy that everyone needs to try at least once in your lifetime. The meat is incredibly tender and rich in flavor. As it slowly cooks in a smoke sauna the exterior skin turns crispy and the fat melts away leaving juicy, delicious pork that is sure to put a smile on your face! For this recipe I first had to source the pigs. I put a call in to Brad my local butcher (The Butcher’s Block – Southaven, MS) about a week ago and had him order a couple suckling pigs. These pigs are young – typically 4-6 weeks in age and only weigh between 15-30lbs. At $4.99 per pound, they’re not cheap, but they’re oh so worth it! They come froze, wrapped in plastic, and need 3-4 days to slow thaw in the refrigerator. Once thawed, they require a little trimming before they’re ready for the pit. Place each pig on its back and use a knife to cut through the breast bone. Press down on each side of the rib cage to open the cavity. Remove the kidneys or any organs left from processing and trim away any silver skin or excess fat. To flavor these pigs I take a 2-step approach. First a layer of dry seasonings – you can use anything you like here – I’m going with a base coat of my Killer Hog’s AP Rub (salt, pepper, garlic) for a savory flavor then my Killer Hog’s The BBQ Rub for more traditional bbq notes. The Second step is an injection to get some flavor deep into the meat. If you have a favorite injection, by all means use it. You can really play with the flavors and go any direction you want here. I mixed 1 cup of Victory Lane Pork Injection with 64oz Apple juice. Hit the loins, hams, and shoulders with the injection the BDI injector makes quick work of this. Now it’s time to fire up the smoker. I’m using my Ole Hickory Ace MM for this job but you can use any pit that has a rack big enough to hold one. You’ll need at least 18”x24” cooking surface for a suckling pig. Get the fire going using Royal Oak briquettes with a few chunks of Hickory and Cherry Wood for smoke flavor. I’m shooting for a cook temp of 225-250 degrees for these pigs. Before placing the pigs on the pit, wipe the skin dry with a clean towel. This will help it crisp during the cooking process also protect the ears and nose with a little aluminum foil. Place the pigs on the cooking grate and make sure the legs are pointed forward, the back is straight, and the sides are tucked. (The way you place it on the rack is the way it will cook). Close the smoker and let it roll for at least 2.5 hrs. At this point the skin should be firm and you can apply a little cooking spray to keep it from getting too dark. (you’ll want to reapply the cooking spray a couple times during the cook) Hold the temps in the 225-250 range and monitor the internal temps using a wired probe thermometer (Thermoworks Dot) inserted into the thickest part of the shoulder. Target temperature is 190-195 in the shoulders it’ll take about 7 hours to get there. When the pigs are done, carefully transfer them to a full size sheet pan or large cutting board to rest for 30 minutes before serving. I use a little fresh kale around the outside for garnish this is completely optional but it does make the presentation look fancy. To serve: use sharp knife and make an incision down the length of the back bone, turn and continue to cut down at the shoulder and ham just through the skin. This allows the skin to peel completely off on the side exposing all the juicy goodness beneath. Wear some heat resistant gloves and get to pickin’! You can serve the meat right from the cutting board or place it on a platter of your choice. However you decide to serve folks are usually crowded around and ready to dive in. Suckling Pig is some fine eating pulled pork drizzled with a little spicy vinegar sauce and you’re good to go! Print

How to Roast a Whole Suckling Pig | The Food Lab

Suckling pig is the easiest animal to roast in the world. Don't believe me? You should. You'd have to be a complete idiot to be able to start with a good pig and end up with something nothing short of extraordinarily, flabbergastingly delicious to eat a few hours later. I take that back. Even an idiot can do it. You'd have to be a diabolical madman of unrivaled genius bent on destroying deliciousness in order to ruin a good suckling pig.

Seriously, it's holiday roasting for dummies, and one of my favorite foods of all time.

You know what I've noticed? I don't write about pig nearly as often as I should, given how much I love the beast. I mean, come holiday time every year, I usually try and write a few stories about big, celebratory roasts. Prime Rib? I gotcha covered. Leg of lamb? No problem. Or perhaps you're a ham-fan? Don't worry, here's how to cook either a city ham or a country ham.

But pork roasts? Nope. Not unless you're planning on cooking it on a spit. Well, little piggy, this week I'm going to repay my debt to you and your unique porcine pleasures by honoring you with not one, but four complete guides to serving you up for the holidays in various incarnations. Special thanks to our friends at Pat LaFrieda for selecting some awesome pork for us to work with this week.

First up: suckling pig.

They call it cochon de lait in Louisiana (or France, for that matter), lechón in South America, maiale in Italy, or—my favorite—Spanferkel in Germany. I just call it f%*king delicious. Because a young pig's flesh is so rich in collagen and has yet to develop strong, robust muscle fibers, roasted suckling pigs is incomparably moist, tender, and delicate, bursting with sweet, sticky juices. It's pretty much impossible to overcook suckling pig flesh. Buy yourself one of these pigs, and you are 99.8% guaranteed a juicy centerpiece, more than can be said of pretty much any other animal.

The only tricky part—and in reality, it's not that tricky—is getting the skin crisp.


OK, I lied. Besides getting perfectly crisp skin, the other tough bit is finding a good source for suckling pigs. While technically a pig is only a true suckling pig when it's still drinking its mother's milk (up to the age of around six weeks), you'll often find pigs that are quite a bit older still labeled as "suckling." This is fine. For all intents and purposes, we care about their size and muscle development, not the technicalities of whether or not its lips were firmly clasping its mother's teat at the moment of slaughter.

The best way to get a suckling pig for yourself is to go to an actual butcher and ask them to custom order one. In fact, many supermarkets with a good meat counter will do it for you around the holiday times. Failing that, you can always order online. McReynolds Farms sells whole frozen pigs of all sizes. Just make sure you give yourself at least two days to defrost them in the refrigerator.

As for the pig's size, any pig under about 40 pounds will yield extremely tender meat, and you should plan on at least a pound of dead weight per person—more like a pound and a half, since this is the holidays and everybody should be eating more.

There is, however, another practical consideration: your oven size. I can fit a 20 pound pig in my oven, but only if the pig is stretched across two overlapping rimmed baking sheets, and only if it lies on its side—ideally, you want the back of the pig facing up to maximize surface area for crisping of the skin. I've cooked larger pigs in my tiny oven, but for those, I've had to split them in half with a hacksaw to get them to fit.

Once you've selected a good pig, make sure to keep it well chilled until ready to cook. If you can shove it into your fridge, more power to you. The alternative is to keep it in a large cooler on ice, changing out the ice as necessary, or—worst case scenario—surprise your housemates by tossing the porker in the bathtub and covering him with ice for up to three days, changing the ice regularly, and heading to the neighbor's to borrow their shower.

Equipment and Basic Flavorings

There's not really any special equipment you need to roast a suckling pig (didn't I tell you it's easy, already?), just a normal oven, and a couple of rimmed baking sheets. If your pig is small enough, you can actually just fit him inside of a roasting pan, curled up like he's ready to take a nap.

A good pig needs nothing but a generous amount of salt, both inside and out, but if you want to get more adventurous, a dusting of freshly ground black pepper and some aromatics shoved into the body cavity won't hurt.

In a nod to my old chef Ken Oringer at Boston's Clio, I like to use handfuls of garlic and ginger. With older animals of any species, aromatics have a hard time penetrating very deeply into the meat, but because a suckling pig has such thin musculature and such a delicate texture, you definitely end up tasting your aromatics in the finished roast. Handfuls of thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, or parsley would do nicely, as would some chopped citrus fruit or even some par-cooked boiled potatoes, if you want the flavor transfer to go in the opposite direction.

The Process

As I've said, if your pig fits with its back facing up on a single rimmed baking sheet, you're in luck—crispy skin galore. If not, you either curl him up in a roasting pan, or do what I do: take a rack out of the oven and overlap two rimmed baking sheets on top of it, covering the whole thing with foil. Place your pig directly on top, then lift the whole oven rack and re-insert it for roasting.

I've roasted suckling pigs in many different ways—hot oven to low oven, low and slow the whole way, moderate heat, butterflied and blasted—and every single method will deliver juicy, succulent flesh. The way they differ is in the quality of the crisp skin. It's not enough that the skin be moderately crisp, you want it blistered and crackled.

In order to do this, the best method is to start low-and-slow—a 275°F to 300°F oven is ideal—and roast until the pig is cooked to at least 160°F in its deepest joint (the shoulder joint close to the head). This should take around four hours for a 20-pound pig, more or less if the pig is bigger or smaller. By this stage, your skin will be relatively pale and you should be able to rip it with your fingers quite easily of you try, but it'll still be soft. To crisp it up, you want to blast the hog at max heat—500°F is good.

If you've timed everything perfectly, you should be able to simply crank up the oven for the last half hour or so of crisping and have your pig ready to serve. If somehow your timing is way off and your pig is ready before your guests are, don't worry! You can take him out of the oven before the final crisping stage and let him rest at room temperature tented with foil for up to two hours before throwing him back into a preheated 500°F oven to crisp up.

As with all roasted meats, you'll want to let him rest tented in foil for at least thirty minutes before serving (here's more on the importance of resting meat).

By the way, you'll want to pour off all of the juices that dripped off during roasting into a measuring cup then separate the fat. Save the fat for cooking Ultra-Crispy Rost Potatoes in, and keep the remaining sticky juices handy for pouring over your meat at the table.


I hate to break it to you, but after all that, there's one more little obstacle: serving. If you were to ask me, I'd tell you that the absolute best way to serve a suckling pig is to get him on to the biggest serving platter or cutting board you can find, stick him in the middle of the table, and let people go at him with their hands and claws. There's so much crazy tender meat that the fingers are absolutely the best way to ensure that not a single scrap goes to waste. Your fingers will get gloriously sticky, but that's the whole point.

What makes suckling pig stickier and more succulent than a full-grown hog? Collagen. This connective protein is abundant in the flesh of young animals that have yet to develop strong musculature. As collagen is heated, it converts to gelatin, which is what is responsible for making all of the drippings sticky, as well as lubricating and coating every strand of flesh you extract.

If you prefer, you can present the pig at the table, then bring him back into the kitchen where you can break the skin into serving-size pieces and tear off chunks of the flesh and stack them on a serving platter. Don't forget the juicy morsels behind the cheeks!

This is also a good course of action if you suspect that your diners might be a bit squeamish about their dinner looking back at them.

Got questions? Take a quick peep through the slideshow for a step-by-step walkthrough of the process.

Acquisition Of The Pig

One of the most notable issues when it comes to cooking a suckling pig is acquiring the pig, finding a whole roasting pig for sale can be a challenge in and of itself. While things are easy if you happen to know a pig farmer, you might consider making a special order for “suckling pig” from a butcher shop or even an online vendor. While the term can vary from person to person, you are looking for a pig that was still nursing on its mother’s milk, hence the “suckling” aspect, and ranges between 9 to 20 pounds in weight.


Roasting a suckling pig takes up considerably less space than is needed with an adult pig. While some may espouse the use of a grill or BBQ when it comes to knowing how to cook a whole pig on a grill, roasting a whole piglet requires low, indirect heat grilling the carcass on high heat runs a high risk of burning the skin and uneven cooking. There is also the matter that most grills are ill-suited to grilling a whole pig on indirect heat. Even if you happen to have a grill large enough to house the body, you will need to constantly be turning the animal over during the process just to give an even, thorough cook if you want to spare yourself some singed arm hairs or even the risk of flipping over your grill, consider the oven or a rotisserie rig .

While digging up a fire pit and lining it with charcoal or firewood can take some effort, the taste of your roast suckling pig will be something truly memorable. Once you feel confident in cooking pig with a rotisserie, you are easily equipped to roast other things, like lamb, goat and poultry. While cooking a pig rotisserie-style calls for a spit, anyone who lacks their own spit should check with a local pig farm to see if they will rent one out. It also would not be a bad idea to enlist help from some friends if you plan on cooking the suckling pig on a rotisserie spit, mainly to set up the posts that will hold the pig on the spit and rotate.

Preparation Of The Pig

While it is a common practice to brine or marinate large pigs before cooking them, the innate succulence and tenderness of suckling pig means that you should only bother with the step if you want to give some extra flavor to the meat-there is already plenty of collagen and under-worked muscle to satisfy the tenderness quotient of the meat. When it comes to brining the body , use whatever your prefer. At a minimal level, you should rub coarse salt over the pig’s body and inside of that body a day before you intend to cook it. Remember to brush all of the salt off right before you plan to cook it.

A Brief Note on Safety Concerns

Be mindful that you are technically handling raw meat, even if the skin is on. Make sure that any cooking surfaces you use during the preparation or cooking of your pig are thoroughly cleaned afterward to avoid any sort of foodborne illnesses.

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Queens of 'Cue

Chef Roger Mooking meets with two Southern ladies famous in the barbecue world. In Nashville, Roger has eyes only for the smoked ribs at Mary's Old Fashioned Pit Bar-B-Que. At Helen's Bar-B-Q in Brownsville, Tenn., Roger meets legendary pit master Helen Turner and help her cook pork shoulders, pork ribs and a whole stick of bologna.

Hamming it Up

Today it's all about Roger Mooking's favorite animal, the pig. He's hamming it up at some of the country's best suppliers of pork. Roger heads to Edwards near historic Jamestown, Va., to visit Sam Edwards, a third-generation "ham master" who pays tribute to old world Europe with his cured, smoked and aged country hams. Roger also stops by Benton's delicious Smoky Mountain Country Hams in Madisonville, Tenn., where Allan Benton has turned the dry curing of ham and bacon into a culinary art.

Mediterranean Seafood Feasts

Roger Mooking heads to Northern California for two spectacular wood-fired Mediterranean seafood feasts. In Napa Valley, the Steltzner family is famous for their wines and their towering outdoor oven called the Infiernillo. Roger helps encase whole fish, potatoes and onions in salt before they're baked in the enormous oven. In Tomales Bay, caterer Tom Meckfessel prepares a delicious surf-and-turf Spanish-inspired paella over a wood fire right on the water. Roger harvests local clams for the paella with John Finger, owner of Hog Island Oyster Farm.

South Carolina Surf and Turf

Charleston, S.C., is one of America's top dining destinations, but for traditional whole hog barbecue and low-country oyster roasts, Roger Mooking leaves the city and heads into the country. In Hemingway, Roger meets pit master Rodney Scott at Scott's Bar-B-Q, whose smoke-filled pit room can cook up to fourteen hogs. Then in fishing town McClellanville, Roger meets Oliver Thames who invented a unique oyster roaster, where local cluster oysters are piled over a metal sheet positioned over a firebox and blankets of wet burlap rest on top to help the oysters steam open.

Pigging Out on Pork

Roger Mooking's favorite way to devour smoked pork shoulder is in a sandwich. In Grand Rapids, Roger visits the Pit Stop, a barbecue take-out famous for their unconventional yet scrumptious sandwich featuring pork chili, pulled pork, cilantro cream and barbecue sauce wrapped up in a flour tortilla and then cooked on a griddle until golden brown and crispy. For a classic Southern-style pork sandwich, Roger visits Top Hat Barbecue in Blount Springs, Ala. This barbecue institution has been serving their best-selling sandwich the same exact way for almost 50 years. The smoked pork is chopped, dressed with a little barbecue sauce and then piled in a bun.

Old School, New School

Roger Mooking gets schooled by two pit masters changing the barbecue game in Charleston, S.C. Carolina-style barbecue is all about pork and Rodney Scott is the whole hog boss. Roger checks out Rodney's impressive new pit room where whole hogs get cooked low and slow. Rodney then hits the hogs with his secret "

Red-Hot Roasts

Roger Mooking visits two caterers in the South who specialize in live-fire cookouts. He starts in Chattanooga, Tenn., where Argentine grillmaster Mariano Cebrian has an incredible collection of portable rigs to create live-fire events through his catering operation, Panoram Asados. When he's off the clock, Mariano and his wife, Angelina, light up these creative rigs in their backyard and cook traditional Argentine meals for their family and friends. Roger and Mariano fire up the parilla, a large outdoor hearth, to roast whole cabbages and carrots and char steak empanadas. Large slabs of beef short ribs are attached to metal crosses to slowly cook over a bed of fiery hot coals. In Columbia, S.C., Roger meets Chef Kristian Niemi, who prepares farm-to-table feasts through Honey River Catering. Together they create two cooking stations out of a cinder block pit for a Southern-style surf-and-turf spread. They season and stuff a boneless whole hog with ground pork sausage, sweet peppers, fennel, cranberries and a medley of spices and aromatics to create porchetta that cooks low and slow over coals. On the side, they roast and steam a bounty of oysters with pecan wood smoke thanks to Krisitan's custom-made plancha.

Carolina 'Cue

Roger Mooking heads to North and South Carolina to visit a couple of old school restaurants that have upheld a long tradition of mouthwatering barbecue for several generations. At Sweatman's in Holly Hill, S.C., whole hogs are cooked low and slow and then pulled and chopped into juicy, meaty perfection. In North Carolina, Roger visits Stamey's Barbecue in Greensboro for their Lexington-style barbecue. Succulent pork shoulders are chopped and piled high on a bun, kissed with vinegar sauce and crowned with slaw.

Outrageous Ovens

Three times a year, Mark Skudlarek fires his three-chamber kiln at Cambridge Pottery in Cambridge, Wis., borrowing some of the kiln's coals to place them in an outdoor wood-fired oven and in the grill for a celebratory feast, and Roger Mooking is there to taste the goods from the custom-designed earthenware bakers. In Deadwood, Ore., a couple turned a metal barrel into an everyday, outside oven. They invite Roger to pick produce from their bountiful garden and help prepare their favorite family recipes.

Smoke and Steam

Hawaii island Oahu is known as the "gathering place," and Roger Mooking is invited to two community gatherings abundant with local foods. On the east side of the island, local chef Mark "Gooch" Noguchi teaches Roger how to prepare a traditional Hawaiian imu. At the farmer's market located at Kapiolani Community College, Roger meets Scott Shibuya who smokes meats with guava and kiawe woods, in a smoker he built out of an Air Force cargo container, an airplane food cart and a computer fan.

BBQ Sandwiches

Roger Mooking loves a great barbecue sandwich. He heads to The Barbecue Exchange for two sinfully delicious sandwiches -- one is called Heaven and the other Hell and both are packed with pulled pork and bacon. Then it's off to Papa KayJoe's BBQ in Centerville, Tenn., where pork, pickles, slaw and hot sauce are sandwiched between crispy corn cakes.

Insane Inventions

Roger Mooking says goodbye to the standard grill and celebrates the most elaborate, over-the-top smokers and roasters. First, he heads just outside Death Valley to cook on a true fire-breathing barbecue pit -- an 8-foot, 800-pound metal dragon with three separate chambers. Then he lands in Kansas City, Mo., for a test flight in Swine Flew, an airplane converted by two mechanics into a fully functioning barbecue grill. They put airline food to shame with pork butts and spare ribs cooked right inside the aircraft cabin. Next, Roger visits a Frankenstein smoker in Oahu, Hawaii, that's constructed from an Air Force cargo container, computer fans and pieces of a commercial jumbo jet. Finally, he checks out a converted tool shed used for a Cajun-style whole hog roast.

Southern Sizzle and Smoke

Roger Mooking makes two pit stops in the South for a little sizzle and a lot of smoke. He starts at Comfort Farms in Milledgeville, Ga., a nonprofit organization where retired veteran Jon Jackson helps fellow vets adjust to civilian life by teaching them how to farm, raise animals and cook. Jon often hosts cookouts to thank and feed his community, and Roger joins him to cook a whole mutton seasoned with garlicky rosemary paste and slow-roast cauliflower, broccoli, beets and onions. Roger then heads to Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q in Bessemer, Ala., for classic, open brick-pit barbecue. He learns the tricks of the trade from seasoned pitmaster Van Sykes, who has been stoking coals since he was 8 years old. They season 250 pounds of picnic pork with salt and load it into a 15-foot pit heated with hickory wood. The pork is then sliced, topped with just enough vinegar-based barbecue sauce and sandwiched inside a toasted bun with sliced pickles.

The Salt and the Sea

Chef Roger Mooking is spending the day at Jacobsen Salt Co., in Netarts Bay, Ore., one of the largest producers of handcrafted sea salt in America. Owner Ben Jacobsen takes Roger on a tour of the facility, showing him how to smoke sea salt, and then Roger meets with Portland-based chef Carlo Lamagna. Roger helps Carlo stuff a 20-pound halibut with lemon and herbs, encrust the whole fish in salt and roast it over a wood-burning fire.

Meat Me in Texas

Chef Roger Mooking sees that everything is bigger in Texas, first meeting Pit Master Levi Goode at Armadillo Palace in Houston. On Levi's custom rotisserie trailer, they roast a 250-pound side of beef. Then at Cured restaurant in San Antonio, Roger and chef/owner Steve McHugh slow-roast a 230-pound hog in a large outdoor cinder block pit.

One-of-a-Kind Rigs

Chef Roger Mooking is on the lookout for some truly unique rigs. In Colorado, Roger meets Josh Pollack, owner of Rosenberg's Bagels & Delicatessen in Denver, who created an eight-foot steel contraption that can cook up to 1,000 pounds of food. Roger then goes to 44 Farms in Cameron, Texas, where Jason Schimmels shows off their impressive barbecue trailer, but also introduces Roger to their unique 10-foot "tripod grills" where huge rib eye roasts are cooked in rotating metal cages.

Sizzling Steaks

In Buffalo Gap, Texas, Roger Mooking meets Tom Perini at his restaurant, Perini Ranch Steakhouse. Roger is put to work lighting up burn barrels for the metal pits, then dessert is baked in a coal-covered cast iron Dutch oven. At Pitchfork Fondue Western Cookout in Pinedale, Wyo., owner Matt David invites Roger to his outdoor kitchen where steaks are skewered onto pitchforks and deep-fried in giant cauldrons.

Carolina 'Cue

Roger Mooking heads to North and South Carolina to visit a couple of old school restaurants that have upheld a long tradition of mouthwatering barbecue for several generations. At Sweatman's in Holly Hill, S.C., whole hogs are cooked low and slow and then pulled and chopped into juicy, meaty perfection. In North Carolina, Roger visits Stamey's Barbecue in Greensboro for their Lexington-style barbecue. Succulent pork shoulders are chopped and piled high on a bun, kissed with vinegar sauce and crowned with slaw.

Pig Roasts

Roger Mooking heads to Napa Valley, Calif., for two unique pig roasts. In St. Helena, chef John Fink is famous for his portable Cuban Pig roasts. Over a custom built oven, a whole pig is butterflied and seasoned with mojo and slow-roasted over wood coals. In Calistoga, Roger meets Todd Spanier to feast on a whole pig that's stuffed with truffles and trumpet mushrooms, then roasted over a rotisserie that his grandfather constructed in the 1970s.

South American Grilling

Roger Mooking meets two chefs celebrating South American grilling styles in northern California. At Farmstead Restaurant in St. Helena, Chef Stephen Barber built a "live fire" cook area, for Argentinian Asado, where Roger and Stephen slow cook spring lamb. In Healdsburg, Roger and Mateo Granados, chef of Mateo's Cocina Latina, build an outdoor oven out of bricks and cinder blocks. Marinated whole ducks, pork loins and leg of lamb are placed onto large Brazilian skewers and cooked on top of the oven.

Light It Up!

Like a moth to a flame, nothing grabs Roger Mooking's attention like a raging wood-burning fire. Roger heads to Bigmista's Barbecue & Sammich Shop in Long Beach, Calif., where Neil and Phyllis Strawder spread their smoked meat love. Roger and Neil load up the smoker with beef briskets and pork butts, then back in the kitchen, Roger and Phyllis roll up their sleeves and build unique barbecue sandwiches. In Door County, Wis., Roger is bowled over by the area's legendary fish boil. At the Old Post Office Restaurant, boil master Jeremy Klaubauf cooks local white fish, potatoes and onions in a cauldron by engulfing it in flames.

Generations of Smoke

Barbecue is in the blood at two family-run institutions where the dedication for perfecting smoked meats spans decades. Burns Original BBQ in Houston, Texas, is the definition of a family business. Grandpa Roy Burns started cooking barbecue in 1973 on the side to help support his NINE children. Four decades later, over a dozen family members continue to keep the flames burning and the meat smoking. Roger is welcomed into the family and the pit room with open arms. He learns the ropes of East Texas style 'cue - tender chopped brisket, pork ribs that fall off the bone, and football-sized loaded bbq baked potatoes. Next, Roger heads to Poche's Market and Restaurant, which has been a one-stop shop for smoked meats in Breaux Bridge L.A. since 1962. Owner Floyd Poche gives Roger a sampling of their legendary 'cue. Pork ribs, pork steaks, sausages and whole chickens get rubbed down with spicy cajun seasoning before getting loaded into their 40 year old wood-fired smoker.

Hawaiian Heat and Texas Meat

Roger Mooking heads to the Aloha State, where Chef Lee Anne Wong fires up a custom-made stainless steel unit with local kiawe wood and prepares a tropical feast of beer-can chicken, slow-roasted fruits and vegetables and fresh mahi-mahi fillets wrapped in banana leaves. In Bellaire, Texas, Roger steps into the smoke at Blood Bros. BBQ, where brothers Robin and Terry Wong and their childhood friend Quy Hoang cook up classic Texas 'cue mixed with global flavors. Roger and Quy season and smoke brisket flaps and then cube, sauce and slow-cook the meat for addictive Brisket Burnt Ends. They stuff the delectable nuggets inside soft bao buns with strips of cucumber, scallions and pickled jicama. Smoked St. Louis-style pork ribs are slathered with a sweet-and-spicy Thai peanut butter glaze and finished with a sprinkling of hot chilies.

Feasts Over Fire in Hawaii

Roger Mooking's first visit to the 50th state promises big fires and big feasts. Right off of Nimitz Highway in Honolulu is family-run restaurant Koala Moa, famous for whole chickens roasted over fire. Roger and owner Chris Shimabukuro burn wood pallets and unopened bags of charcoal in a thirty-five foot rotisserie trailer and cook up over 100 seasoned chickens. At Ma'O Organic Farms in Wai-anae, Roger meets local chef Bob McGee who roasts half a cow over a custom-built metal grill.

Seafood Feast

The best place to celebrate the foods of summer is The Place Restaurant, located in Guilford, Conn. The kitchen for this roadside eatery is an outdoor grill, fueled by slabs of local wood. Brothers Vaughn and Gary Knowles take Roger Mooking to the lumberyard for wood and the docks for fresh-caught lobsters and clams for a breathtaking wood-fired New England seafood feast. In Olympia, Wash., the Nisqually Tribe teaches Roger two traditional ways of preparing seafood.

Wine Country Cookouts

California's wine country is the perfect place for an outdoor cookout and Roger Mooking has been invited to two parties there. Executive winemaker Neil Collins of the Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles designed a contraption that can cook a whole pig over a wood burning fire for an annual party held for members of their wine club. The town of Healdsburg is famous for their wineries, their olive oils and a historic landmark called the Dry Creek General Store. In the summer months, they load up the grill and prepare amazing feasts. Roger helps Chef Gia Passalacqua fill an eight-foot grill with Dungeness crabs that have been rubbed with a chili pepper sauce, and legs of lambs that have been rubbed with a Mediterranean spice paste.

How To Roast A Whole Pig Over An Open Fire

You can’t buy a whole pig at the grocery store, so you’ll need to go direct to a farmer. Pay about $3 a pound for the nicest, most naturally raised animal you can find. That’s final hanging weight, post slaughter, so it’s just the meat, skin and bones.

Our pig’s hanging weight was 60lbs, which fed 25 people, two dogs and created plenty of leftovers.

Yelp and Google are your tools for finding a quality pig raised on natural food.

Keep in mind that the pig will need to be stored in a cool fridge or cooler, which can be difficult for such a large hunk o’ meat. We picked ours up the morning of the barbecue to avoid having to store it. We just brought it home, prepped it, and put it on the fire. Bonus points if you can visit the farm itself and see how the pigs are raised.

Step Two: Assemble Supplies

  • 3 x 8ft 2x4s
  • 3-inch wood screws
  • Wood saw
  • Electric drill
  • 4 x 12-inch rebar
  • Bailing wire
  • Large bag hardwood lump charcoal
  • 5 bundles hardwood firewood (not pine)
  • An apple
  • Sharp knife
  • Shovel

Step Three: Build A Fire

Home Depot was sold out of fire pits the morning we visited, so we bought a cheap clamshell grill and broke it down to create two metal canisters to build a fire in. If you’re able to build a fire directly on the ground where you plan to cook, you don’t need to worry about this.

Build a medium-size campfire and let it burn for an hour or so, feeding it new wood until you develop a solid bed of coals. You’ll want to add charcoal and wood to this throughout the day to keep it going.

One advantage of using some sort of metal fire container is that it allows you to slide the fire out of the way.

Step Four: Prep The Pig

The pig will come to you with its guts removed and a large slit in its belly. Lay it on its back and use a large, sharp knife to cut down from its neck to that slit, through the rib cage, splitting it apart. Do the same from the slit to the anus, splitting the pelvis.

This is hard work and there is a potential to injure yourself if the knife slips. Hold your hand out in front of you in a vertical fist. The knife should face downwards, with the edge facing your forearm, in line with it. When using it, pull with your shoulder and keep your torso, face and friends out of its direction of travel.

Next, cut the ribs away from the spine, where they meet. You’ll be able to find the joint line, split through there.

All this enables you to splay the pig out flat so that heat from the fire can reach throughout it evenly.

Pry the mouth open with a pry bar, sturdy serving fork, shovel or similar. Insert the apple in its mouth to hold it open. This looks cool and allows heat to permeate the pig’s head.

Step Five: Construct Frame

Use the 2x4s to construct a rectangle that is 24 inches longer than the pig and a few inches narrower than the outstretched width of its feet, when splayed flat post-prepping. Locate the cross members a foot from the ends.

Drive two your rebar stakes into the ground about a foot from the fire on each corner. These should be the same width as your frame as they support it.

Locate your frame on these stakes and lean it across the fire somewhere between 45 and 60 degrees. Measure the distance from bottom of the top cross member to the ground on the other side of the fire at the same angle and cut your remaining 2x4s to size to support it. Drive the two remaining rebar stakes into the ground to support those feet.

You’ll be turning and flipping the frame with the pig on it to cook it evenly. So it can help to drive a single screw into each corner of the frame, on both sides, to serve as a chock for the frame’s feet as you switch orientations.

Caught on camera: Pink pig grill stolen from outside of Sioux Falls business

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – A Sioux Falls thief took shoplifting to the next level… and got away with a hot pink grill shaped like a pig. The business wants it back.

You’ve probably caught a glimpse of the pink pig grill that sits outside Karl’s Tv and Appliance as you travel along 41st Street.

But today (Monday), ‘Petunia,’ is no longer welcoming customers outside of the Sioux Falls business.

“It was Friday afternoon and I went out to my car to grab something and there was a pickup kind of pulled up to the front of the store and they were loading up our pig smoker,” contract sales office administrator, Emily Ball said.

“One of the sales guys said ‘hey Tom, are we loading up the pig,’ and I said ‘no, I don’t think so,’ and I clicked onto the camera and watched them load the pig and drive away,” general manager, Karl’s TV and Appliance, Tom Johnson said.

Video cameras outside the store caught it all happen.

“Two people got out of the pickup, put her in, sort of gently, and then just threw her in, and it’s just like oh my goodness, there goes Petunia, and quickly exited the building, westbound on 41st Street,” Johnson said.

“It was kind of a bold move, when they have their hats on and bundled up, you couldn’t tell who they were anyways,” Ball said.

Johnson says they notified police after the incident happened.

“As bold as mid afternoon, 3:00 on a Friday afternoon, and you load up product directly in front of a store, I guess we need to chain them up going into the future, but the hard part is, knowing those people are in our community,” Johnson said.

Now they’re hoping their pink pig is returned home.

“There was no license plate on the front, and the back of the truck was so dirty you couldn’t see a license plate, we’d sure like to get her back and we’d like to catch whoever did it, but overall she’s going to be missed,” Johnson said.

Johnson says they plan to continue to display some of their grills outside, but may add another security method.

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Kalua Pig - Shredded Pork Like Served at a Hawaiian Luau

Kalua Pig, or Kalua Pua'a in Hawaiian, is the central main dish and featured element at almost every Hawaiian luau. At a traditional Hawaiian luau, cooking the pig is no easy task.

Early in the morning Polynesian men traditionally dig a round pit, called a lua, about 2 to 4 feet deep with sloping sides. Kindling material is placed at the bottom of the pit and then stones are placed on top of the wood. The kindling is lit and the stones are allowed to heat. Usually within 2 to 3 hours the stones are ready for cooking.

As described by Dino Labiste in her excellent feature called Imu - Hawaiian Underground Oven, "When the heated stones are ready, it is time to layer the imu with green vegetation, food, covering material, and dirt."

The completed underground oven is called an imu. If you attend a luau in Hawaii today, chances are you'll have the opportunity to see an imu, where your evening's kalua pig is being cooked. Most luaus have what is called an "imu ceremony" where they open the imu and remove the cooked pig. For most, it's one of the highlights of the evening.

The roasted pig is then taken and shredded for serving to those attending the luau.

The good news is that even if you don't have an imu, you can still make Hawaiian kalua pig at home from pork butt purchased at your local supermarket.


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