Just in time for Memorial Day Weekend, we’re going Whole Hawg folks!!
Smoking a whole pig is an experience every serious pitmaster has to try, at least once! Here is a small 50 pounder that we did that turned out smoking good!
What you’ll need:
A whole pig, dressed
Block of wood to place in pig’s mouth
Oak, Hickory, Pecan, Apple wood logs or chunks
Charcoal (optional, depending on your cooker)
Here we go:
Get your pig from your meat purveyor (we got ours from a local independent meat market). The size of the pig depends on the size of your cooker, obviously the bigger the pig, the bigger the cooker you will need. We chose a 50 pounder for this cook, as it was about all that my cooker could handle. The day before you plan to cook the pig, lay it out on a flat surface, belly side up, and open up the cavity a little more than it already is. You can do this by taking a sharp knife and cutting down along the edges of the spine, starting near the head, and also in the loin area between the back legs.
Next, apply a liberal amount of your favorite BBQ rub (for this cook we used Willinghams) on the inside cavity, making sure to cover it well. Place the pig in a cooler or other cold holding place over night.
The next day, build your fire in your cooker, using whatever fuel source is appropriate for your cooker. We used my offset smoker and burned hickory and red oak. You want to achieve a cooking temp of around 250 degrees. A little lower or a little higher is okay, just try to hover around the 250 degree mark.
Take your pig out of the cooler while your fire is getting cranked up, and let it warm up to room temp if possible. You may not be able to get it up to room temp before the fire is going good, and that’s okay, just don’t wait and take it out of the cooler 5 minutes before you’re ready to cook. Next, coat the skin of the pig lightly with olive oil to give it a nice brown color when it is finished cooking. Wrap the ears with aluminum foil to keep them from burning, and place a block of wood in the pig’s mouth to keep it open during the cooking process, so you can put the apple in its mouth at the end! You are now ready to go on the pit.
To flip or not to flip, that is the ever burning question when cooking a pig. We decided it would be best to flip, so we started with the belly side down and let it cook for about four hours, then we flipped it over and let it go for about three hours. For my own future reference, if you plan to flip, I would suggest cooking belly side up first, then flipping it over to finish so that the finished pig is sitting with its head up, for presentation purposes.
We used an electronic remote meat thermometer with the probe placed in the front shoulder. This a thick, meaty place to check the temperature for doneness. You want to cook the pig to 200 degrees, ideally. You could most likely get away with cooking it to 185 degrees to 200 degrees, but in my opinion 200 degrees will yield the best result.
It will take several hours for the pig to thoroughly cook, so plan ahead. In our case it took about 9 hours to get it up to 200 degrees. We then used welding gloves to pick up the entire cooking grate with the pick still on it, took it inside and pulled it. The meat just fell off the bones! This was a great experience, and I would recommend it to any serious BBQ’er!