Each of our children have been baptized the summer after they were born. After the church service we have a big lunch with family and friends outside in the yard. For Penelope’s baptismal lunch we decided to raise a pig for a pig roast. Neither Trenton or I have ever roasted or butchered a pig ourselves so it was an experience.
We have been attempting to be a little more self-sufficient and a large part of that is raising and processing our own food. In the garden it is growing, pickling, and freezing vegetables. With the animals it means collecting eggs and deciding when an animal is ready to be harvested. The pigs are ready to be harvested.
The shear amount of time that goes into the process of roasting a pig is amazing. If the pork wasn’t so delicious we would never roast another pig.
Initial steps before roasting:
- Shoot the pig (I’m throwing in this obvious first step just because I can!)
- Hang the pig to drain the blood.
- Gut the pig.
- Remove the lower legs at the knees.
- Decide if you want the skin and the head on. (Penned pigs are not the cleanest animals so the thought of leaving the skin on grosses me out a little.)
- We decided to remove the skin and head.
- Let the pig hang for a few hours. (Meat needs to hang for a while to be safe to eat. We put bags of ice into the cavity of the pig to help it cool and wrapped it in a sheet to keep the meat clean.)
- While the meat is hanging collect herbs, spices, and juices you want to use on the pig.
I was at work for the first 6 steps and Grandma Linda watched the kids. My Dad, Darin, came out to help Trenton which was great because we had never done anything like it before. Dad has been handling various livestock for my whole life so he has 30+ years of experience in processing different animals. To give an example of the amount of time it takes to prep a pig for slow roasting he came out to the house at 3ish and we got the pig on the roaster at about 9:30. When the kids and I got home Lucian was fascinated to find a pig carcass hanging from the skid steer and had a million questions for his papa.
The hanging weight of our pig was 150 Ibs which we soon discovered was too big for the roaster we borrowed. We removed the hams and Dad took home. If we decide to cook another pig it will be smaller.
After the pig hung for a few hours it was time to heat up the roaster and spice the pig. We spiced the pig by:
- Applying a rub of brown sugar and various spices
- Slicing holes in the meat and inserting pickled garlic cloves and onions.
- Placing onions, apples, and garlic in the center of the pig.
- Filling the dripping pans with apple juice to sweeten the meat and add extra flavor.
Trenton stayed up all night watching the pig and adding charcoal every hour or so. Halfway through the night he flipped it somehow. Penelope and I were sleeping so I haven’t a clue how he managed it. He woke me up at about 5 and I took over so he could sleep for a couple hours before we had to go to the church. Penelope woke up shortly after so she was outside with me in the stroller. We divided our time between getting morning chores done and checking on the pig. At about 8:30 it temped out so we let it pitter out while we were in church.
It was amazingly delicious and quiet a few family members snitched meat before it even made it into the roaster pans. I know I had my fair share before lunch started. My thoughtful sisters provided gallon sized bags for people to take pork home and we still had almost a full roaster full afterward for ourselves.
Overall, I think it went well and it was definitely a learning experience that we may repeat with a smaller pig.