Step 5: Preparing the Pig

Picture of Preparing the Pig
In order to speed the process of roasting, you need to butterfly the pig. Butterflying means that you cut the backbone from pelvis to skull, to allow the pig to lay flat. This is really not as hard as it sounds.

At an absolute minimum, you need a cheap, heavy chef's knife, and a standard hammer and a Bone Saw. A proper bone saw is preferred, but any hand saw would work.

Step 1 - Start at the tail end of the pig, with the pig on it's back. Using the saw, cut open the front of the pelvis and encourage (by force) the hind quarters to lay flat. You should see the back of the pelvis, and the start of the backbone.

Step 2 - Move to the head, and use the saw to cut open the breastbone; start the cut on the tail end, and cut up to the head. The rib cage should open slightly.

Step 3 - Go back to the tail, use the bone saw to start cutting the backbone near the pelvis, once you have a cut started, switch to the knife.

Place you knife horizontally along the backbone, and pound the back of the knife with the hammer a few times. The vertebrae are surprisingly soft, and the blade should cut right through. Repeat this process several times, each time cutting through 3-4 vertebrae. The pig should start to lay flat. Make sure that you don't cut beyond the vertebrae - it's easy to cut too far and come out the top of the pig. This will make an unsightly hole.

When you reach the back of the head, you have a choice to make. The pig will lie flatter and cook better if you cut the back of the skull in half with your saw. It's possible that this last step might be too much for some people. If so, skip it, but your pig won't cook quite as evenly.

Once the pig is butterflied, cover the interior with kosher or rock salt and your rub of choice, and place into the pig rack. I don't have a favorite rub recipe, so I just use Tony Chachere's rub, available at your supermarket. If you have a marinade injector, this is a good time to juice up the pig with your marinade of choice.

If you want to butterfly the pig the night before the roast, simply rack the pig, and fill the bottom of the roaster with ice. Unless you live somewhere really warm, that should keep it cool until the roast.

I have cooked lots of pigs this way. I just fold the butterflied pig in a piece of climb proof horse fencing. The strong tight wire fencing is perfect for holding the pig together as the meat starts to slip from the bone. Just lay this fencing envelope over whatever firebox works. Even a hole in the ground with a couple pieces of rebar to hold the pig a suitable height from the coals. I started out with the pig on a spit routine but the butterfly method is, in my opinion, much, much better. Faster, more even cooking and better distribution of marinades and sauces.

vraam4 years ago
Does anyone have an instructabel on how to build one of these? I have looked all over the net for plans, with little success. It would be helpful to have a materials list and the exact dimensions and so forth and so on. Thanks.
This is a really cool instructable. I can't wait to try it. I'm thinking of cooking a hog or two like this for my wedding party.
mstefic6 years ago
in my part of the world pig goes to the spit
MrBoB (author)  mstefic6 years ago
That's the interesting thing about pig roasts, that so much regional variation exists. It seems to me that spit roasting only works in warm regions. I have used my roaster in the winter, with snow on the ground, and it worked great. I believe there are at least two other instructables demonstrating spit roasting of a pig, so I think that's well covered.
vandal11386 years ago
I spent a good year and a half in Iraq and let me tell ya, these first 2 pics bring back some bad memories. BUT, I think about the BBQ amazingness and all is well. Good job sir, well done!