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Hog Spit-Roast

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How to slow-roast a hog/pig on a spit using a rented propane-powered spit roaster that many tool-shops rent out (both in the UK and USA).

o Total roasting time for a 80kg live-weight hog is about 6 hours.
o Preparation time: 1 hour
o Carving time: 1 -2 hours
o A 80kg live-weight hog can feed at least 50 people

Scale the roasting time up or down according to the size of your hog, and tune the result by testing the meat near the end of the calculated roasting time.
 
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Step 1: Ingredients and Tools

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Tools:
Carving knife - it must be very sharp. A long slender one is ideal. I use a belt sander with a fine grade 600 paper to sharpen it. It works better than a sharpening iron.
Scallop grippers - the longer the better, in case a nice meat cut falls into the roaster
A large basting brush - a large DIY paint brush made from hog hair is best
A bowl for holding the basting
Juice squeezer
Smaller knife for cleaning the last bits of meat off the carcass
Shears to cut the cracking up into bite-sized pieces

Ingredients:
6-8 lemons
1 pound of course sea salt
1 pound of fine sea salt
1 pint of canola cooking oil (don't use olive oil, it will spoil in the heat)
1/2 pint of runny honey

Optional Ingredients:
a few leafy branches from a bay tree
3 trussed-up supermarket chickens

Step 2: Mounting the hog on the spit

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This is important to get this bit right - if the hog comes undone during cooking, you will have an unevenly cooked roast, not to mention the struggle you will have to remount a hot and greasy beast back on the spit. The best thing is to have clamps that attach the spine to the spit along a couple of places in addition to the typical spike grips that come with any rotisserie.

The end result should be that your hog is nicely balanced on the spit and should not move laterally or vertically when the spit is rotated.

Be sure to test the balance and attachment before firing the rotisserie up!

Step 3: Optional Step: Stuff with Chickens and Bay

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For additional flavour and even juicier meat, simply place the 3 (or more) chickens in the carcass cavity and put the branches of bay leafs in.

It is unlikely that you will eat the chicken when the hog is done. But remember that the chicken will be extremely tender and tasty too after 6 hours of slow cooking, so don't chuck it away. Instead, put them in the fridge at end of your party and the next day strip the meat from the bones using your fingers (really, it's a lot laster than any other method) for a yummy chicken sandwich filling, chicken pie, chicken soup, chicken burgers, etc.

Now would also be a good time to consider what lovely things you can make with the leftovers from the hog: spare ribs, Eisbein, a proper chili (50% beef, 50% pork), more sandwich filling, English pork pie, and so on.

Step 4: Sew up the cavity

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... if it is not already sewn up. Use a chef's knife to pierce the speck and to guide a length of cable or wire through it, lacing it up like you would lace up a boot.

Step 5: Score the Hog for the best Crackling in the World

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Crackling is a bit of a British thing and if you get it right, you will make friends for life.

Get that sharp carving knife out now and score 1/4-inch deep scores all over the hog. The cuts should be about a 1/4-inch apart and definitely no further than a 1/2-inch apart or you will have leathery crackling. Also, keep the cuts parallel so that the skin does not peel off. Do not be tempted by doing a criss-cross like on a sunday roast - the crackling will drop off into the grease pool and will become inedible.

Make sure you cut deep enough through the skin and hit the fat layer underneath - you will see and taste in the end why this is so important!

Step 6: The Basting a.k.a. Piggie Paint

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Juice the 6 lemons and mix it well with the 1 litre of cooking oil. Give it a good stir with the brush - the brush helps to emulsify the mix. You should now have a veritable pot of wonderfully-smelling piggie-paint!

Step 7: Paint the Piggie!

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Use a large paint brush and paint the basting over the entire hog. Work the basting into the scores with the brush.

Step 8: Rub salt into the wounds

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Using your hands, rub the coarse cooking salt into the scores. Work it well into the cracks and you will have crackling that people will talk about for ages.

Finally, drizzle some of the remaining basting over the hog and pat as much as possible of the remaining salt onto the outside skin.

Keep some of the basting sauce for near the end of the cooking process for finishing off the roast after the crackling has been removed.

Step 9: Fire in the hold! And a 1/2 hour later...

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The propane burner typically consists of 2 long perforated pipes that run along the adjacent lengths of the rotisserie. This rotisserie that I used had a glass window and an On/Off setting with no intermediate gas-mark settings. Fire the propane burner up and start the rotisserie motor. Close the lid, stand back, treat yourself to a cold beer and contemplate the masterwork that is about to unfold before you over the next 6 hours.

Avoid lifting the lid for a peek as you will loose a lot of heat every time you do so and it will also impact the flavour. You will of course need to occasionally lift the lid to baste the hog, though.

After the first half hour, you can see that the skin has started to shrink a bit already.

Step 10: 1 hour later...

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Looking good already!

Step 11: 2 hours later...

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Looking even better. The first bits of crackling are blistering already. The blisters correspond to where grains of coarse salt stuck to the skin. The more blistery the skin, the crunchier the resulting crackling will be.

Step 12: 3 hours later...

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Expect the skin to tear in a number of places. It may look appetizing already, but the skin will still be pure leather at this stage.

Step 13: Another basting

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Paint the hog again quickly with some of the lemon-and-oil basting. Then sprinkle a handful of fine sea salt over the hog as it rotates.Try not to loose too much heat.

Step 14: 4 hours later...

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Dang, dat looks goooooood, Dude!

Step 15: 5 hours later... perhaps time to have a little taste?

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Carefully lift some skin and cut a small piece of meat off the roast and taste it - it should taste like it is nearly ready now. This is just a sanity check to ensure that you are on schedule.

Remember: This is a slow-roast process! A nearly-ready taste that would take a further 10 minutes for your Sunday roast in a domestic oven to finish off the dish, will take another 1 hour to complete on a spit roast. Adjust the remaining cooking time according to this rule of thumb.

Step 16: 5 1/2 hours later... even better!

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Leave it...don't be tempted!

Step 17: 6 hours later... OK, I think we're done

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A final taste (after all, you are the chef and you are entitled to it).

Get your carving tools ready, turn off the heat and get someone to hold the serving dish very close so that you do not loose any meat into the grease pit below.

Step 18: Remove the crackling

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Using the secateurs-like kitchen shears, cut the crackling off into the serving dish. You need to work quickly so that you do not loose too much heat, as you are going to give the hog another roasting after this. Do not remove any crackling that is still leathery.

When you have removed all the ready crackling, paint the exposed meat with some of the remaining basting, now mixed with some honey for extra, unctuous flavouring. Fire up the rotisserie and come back 1/2 hour later.

In the mean time, use the kitchen shears to cut the crackling up into bite-sized bits. It helps if you have a normal gas BBQ next to you to keep the cracking warn. You and also is the BBQ to crackle it up even further on the grill. Be careful of dripping fat into the BBQ as this causes grease fires and will blacken your precious crackling with soot.

Serve the crackling, separate from the meat, to your guests and watch them whoop with delight!

Step 19: Carve the meat

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Once all the crackling has been served up, it is time to carve the beastie.

If you want to, you can give your hog a final basting and brown the outer layer of meat for another 1/2 hour. The finishing touches are up to you and maybe only depend on the hog's karma.

Then the hard work starts:

Repeat {

- Carve
- Serve
- Brown next layer of meat a little more
- Sharpen knife in the mean time
- Rest your arms. This is hard work so get a 'good friend' to lift your beer glass for you while your arms rest.

} while others enjoy the feast;

Top tip: Unless you are a martial arts expert, stop the rotisserie motor before carving the beast.

Step 20: Finishing off

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Here is the carcass with most of the easy meat stripped off it. There is still loads of good meat left, so let's make the most of this too: Mix some honey with the remainder of the basting and paint the meat. Left the basting caramelize for another 30 minutes, and then strip the last of the meat off.

Once everyone has had their fill, it is time to collect the leftovers.

Spare Ribs: Take the kitchen shears and cut the rib cage along the spine. You now have two most excellent sets of spare ribs for the next BBQ. Freeze them until required. To make BBQ'ed Spare Ribs, make a basting sauce - plenty of BBQ basting sauce recipes here on Instructables , brown the ribs in the BBQ, paint the basting on, caramelize the basting, et voila: a sweet reminder of the chef's hard work.

A pretty damn good chili: The rest of the carcass can be hacked up into large chunks, the meat can be stripped off the bones, cut into bit-sized chunks and frozen. Use this meat and some minced beef for an excellent chili. Again, plenty of recipes here on Instructables for the ultimate chili.

Bones: You have a dog? Give the dog a bone! He will be happy as Larry.

The whole chickens: If you opted for stuffing chickens in the cavity, you will now have 3 very tender, slow-cooked chickens. Strip the meat of the bones using your fingers and use all the soft bones to make a chicken stock and save it for soups and gravies in freezer bags. Use the chicken for sandwich fillings and chicken-and-mushroom pies.

Clean up! While the fat is still hot, run it off into a bucket. Be prepared for at least 20 liters of fat from a hog this size. What can you do with the fat? Make soap from first principles by boiling it with wood ash maybe? Just don't pour it down the drain, unless you wish to incur the wrath of you local council / municipality. Give the rotisserie a good scrub as soon as possible before the remaining fat starts to congeal. A power washer works well here.

mstefic5 years ago
very tasty vith onion
rocklocker5 years ago
Thanks a lot, now I have to go and change my shirt because I drooled all over the front of it just reading this great intructable. However, cracklin's (proper spelling) is a Southern delicacy here in the U.S. For a real treat throw a couple of handfuls into a batch of cornbread and bake it up while you wait for the pig to finish. Again, great job
Where is this hogs face? The head is the best eating.
gerrit_hoekstra (author)  thingy5 years ago
I can't say I have ever eaten that bit, except for in German Sultzewurst - a sausage made from pig offal, which is very nice.
The cheek is one of the most delicious meat/fat/skin combinations on earth, not to mention the brain. If you can get the head next time give it a try. Hog Jowls are a gift from the almighty.
JoelDude thingy5 years ago
I've heard i nthe past cow bains sandwich was very popular until mad cow came along.
gerrit_hoekstra (author)  thingy5 years ago
I'll bear that in mind next time my butcher wants to get too enthusiastic with the hatchet. Not to mention the trotters that the butcher also deprived me of for a magnificent German Eisbein.
That is a shame. Eisbein is also food of the Gods.
thingy thingy5 years ago
My German father turned me on to the deliciousness of Souse (jellied pig brain). While it looks dubious and its hard to come by in Detroit, I'll eat it whenever I can find it. I need a beer and some spaetzel now.
gerrit_hoekstra (author)  rocklocker5 years ago
You're welcome and thanks for the lavish compliment! The cornbread thing sounds like a good idea. In England we are boring and we only server boiled potatoes with this ;-)