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How to Cook a Pig in the Ground

Posted Oct 22 2008 4:25pm

We threw a tropical luau party over Memorial Day weekend, complete with cooking a pig in the ground and professional hula dancers. Yep, a good old fashioned pig roast. And everyone I have told about this says the same thing- How did you do that? How do you cook a pig? In the ground?

So, I thought I'd share with you how to roast a pig in the ground. Step-by-step. Photo by photo. And where did we learn how to do this crazy thing? Well, I'll tell you that it was NOT from the internet. We searched around quite a bit & found very little information & instructions. So, we went straight to the source. We were lucky enough to have Samoan friends. In fact, the luau was in their honor. Paratroper Man is a Company First Sargeant and he works side by side with the Company Commander- who I'll call Major Samoa. The major and his family are moving and this was their going away party.

How to Cook a Pig in the Ground

Ready? Cuz here we go. You'll need to start this process of cooking a pig in the ground by... well, by digging a hole. Pretty genius of me, I know. Thank you.

How to Cook a Pig in the Ground

Our pig was about 60 pounds. So, Paratrooper Man and Major Samoa dug a hole about 3 feet deep by about 5 feet long. The soil in Texas is hard & baked, so breaking through the first layer called for a lot of jumping up & down on the shovel.

How to Cook a Pig in the Ground

But, not before long, they had dug out a nice roasting pit in the back yard.

How to Roast a Pig in the Ground

Yup, that looks about right. Once you have the hole dug, you start a fire in the pit.

How to Roast a Pig in the Ground

Ideally, you should use some large river rocks for roasting the pig. But, we got short for time & just stole the neighbor's garden rocks instead of heading out to buy river rock.

How to Roast a Pig in the Ground

Well, technically, we didn't steal the rocks. We just borrowed them. We've already taken them back, by the way. Just so that you don't call the Rock Police on us or something.


Once the fire is going good & hot, you place the rocks right in the fire. The heated rocks are what is going to actually cook the pig.


While the rocks are heating in the fire, time to get the pig ready. I just want ya'll to know that I could've carried that pig all by myself. But, then I couldn't have photographed this step. And it is incredibly important to catch every step & every detail in photographs. Really, I could have done it myself. I don't know why ya'll don't believe me.


We kept the pig in a large cooler overnight with lots of ice. If you've got room in the refrigerator, that's even better. You'll also need a table for preparing & serving the pig. We just used a plastic outdoor folding table.


Go ahead & take the pig out of the cooler. Take any hooks or tags from the meat market off. Because there's a rule somewhere about you can't eat anything that you've named. And we think this pig was named Pauline.


OK, so it probably was the name of the lady at the butcher shop. But we aren't taking any chances. Go ahead & proudly pose with Pauline like she's a wild boar trophy from a hard & brave hunt. Hey, you hunted for her in the Yellow Pages. That counts for something.


Hey. What are you looking at?


Go ahead & hose off any blood or dirt from the pig. Pauline was needing a bath anyway.


The next step is to make some large slits in the shoulders of the pig.


You'll also want to make some slits in the pig's rump.


You'll need to take four of the heated stones and place one in each of the slits. This is to provide additional heat to the areas with the largest concentration of meat. Poor Pauline. Gives new meaning to "rocks in your head".


By the way, here's the seasoning that we used. Tex Joy Special Barbecue Seasoning Rub. You rub the pig inside & out with this seasoning rub.


The next step is to tie the pigs legs together. This just makes her easier to get in & out of the roasting pit in the ground. Notice, I said she. Well, her name is Pauline, after all. About now, those rocks have begun to cook the shoulders & ham hocks. It smells like delicious bacon.


Traditionally, pigs are wrapped in banana leaves while roasting in the pit. We have a banana tree, but we decided to spare the poor tree & just use tin foil.


Major Samoa & Paratrooper Man wrapped Pauline in two layers of heavy duty tin foil. One layer...


Two layers...


Once the pig is wrapped up good & tight in tin foil, load the pig onto some chicken wire.


The chicken wire will make it easy to lower Pauline into the pit. And easy to lift Pauline out of the pit once she is roasted.


Time to tend to the fire a bit more.


Once the rocks are white hot & the wood begins to turn to ash...


Remove all the wood from the roasting pit & just leave the rocks.


Since we were a bit worried about using plain old garden rocks versus true river rocks, we decided to add in some charcoal briquets just to be sure that we had enough heat going on in the pit.


Now, Paratrooper Man was a weapons & demolition expert back in the day. And Major Samoa used to be a tanker. Imagine the pyrotechnics these two can create. They work great together as a team, don't they?


Once you're done playing with the fire & burning off your eyebrows, it's time to finally place Pauline down into the roasting pit.


Make sure that the hot rocks & coals are evenly distributed. Go ahead & put a few of the hot rocks right on the pig's back.


The next few steps are to ensure that the heat stays trapped down in the roasting pit to cook the pig versus cooling off and not cooking anything. That would be bad. We started with a burlap bag soaked in water.


Woo hoo! Look at that smoke.


Find as many cardboard boxes as you can. Soak them good & wet with a garden hose.


Completely surround Pauline and completely fill the roasting pit with wet cardboard boxes.


Have Goldilocks help you soak a large piece of canvas with water.


Cover the whole mess with the wet canvas.


Put the final lid on it. A big ol' hunk of sheet plywood.


And there. You're done for a few hours. Go enjoy the festivities. We put the pig in the ground around 8:30 am and pulled it out around 3:00pm. So that was around 6 hrs for 60 pounds of meat. By the way, the guy on the left is our neighbor. In a minute, he's going to be thinking "Hey. Those rocks look sorta familiar." So, fast forward a few hours...


All you need to do is remove all the layers of plywood, canvas, cardboard boxes and burlap.


Hey, look. There's poor Pauline.


Pull her on outta there.


It's amazing, but the chicken wire wasn't hot.


Oh yea. And I must mention that it is absolutely imperative that at least one of the roasting chefs is wearing a grass hula skirt. And a cowboy hat. Do NOT attempt this without the proper attire. I'm serious. I can't be held responsible for the consequences if you don't follow this part of the instructions.


Put Pauline up there on the table.


Unwrap her & have a look.


I don't know about ya'll, but I'm totally amazed by this whole process. They cooked a whole pig in my backyard. In the ground. With just a couple of hot rocks. Pretty cool, huh?


So, how do you serve a roasted pig? We just set out some forks & knives. Everyone simply pulled off the meat they wanted. The meat will be falling off the bones. Very moist & juicy. Sorta like pulled pork.

And what else do you serve with roasted pig? We skipped the traditional poi. We opted for tropical fruit salad. Mrs. Samoa has an awesome talent. She whipped up these watermelon baskets in just a few minutes. I've seen her do more extensive carving, but we decided to keep it easy & simple. We even stuck a few umbrellas in there for fun.


Now, all day long, as the pig roasted, Mrs. Samoa talked on & on about how delicious this particular sauce was with roasted pig. I thought she was crazy. But, let me tell you- she was right on the money. This sauce is the perfect accompaniment to roast pig. It is Vietnamese sweet chili sauce. She bought it from Wal-Mart and she says you can buy it in the international foods section of most grocery stores. I highly recommend her suggestion.


We also cooked up some sweet potatoes and corn on the cob. And King Hawaiian Bread is the perfect complement to all of these foods & flavors.


Let me tell you... all that time & trouble is worth it. We had about 50 guests and had very little pork leftover. It went lightning fast. Everyone went back for seconds. Even the squeamish were hooked after a few bites.

If you enjoyed this post, you can learn more about the Apron Queen here. You can subscribe to the Apron Queen in a reader or via e-mail.
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