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Anyone with Pig Roast Experience?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
so this coming june a few friends and i are holding a pig roast... its the first one ive done basically myself... i.e. cooking the pig, getting supplies, talking to park administrations, signing forms yada yada...

there will be an 80lb pig, Burgers, dogs, chicken, assorted kegs and hopefully we have people bringing side dishes to set out like tater salad and such.... now we would like to have 70 ppl show up and thats it... but we all know thats not going to happen.. we have already let people know a bit too soon and were lookin at a possible turnout of 150+.. i dont mind it that much i just know that if too many people come, they might not get the pig. We reserved a park pavilion area... games will be had as well as live music...

im not that worried about people getting bored, but what i am worried about is that crunch time when the pig is done and we got to break that mother of a swine down and feed everyone lol...

anyone have any experience with pig roasts that they can lend a few tips?? it would be more than appreciated..


post #2 of 25

If you're really expecting 150, that pig is nowhere near big enough. Figure on well over 50% waste. An 80# pig for 75 people is a biiiig stretch. 2 lbs dressed pig per person is very generous. 1 lb is sketchy. 1-1/2 lbs is about right. Sounds like you're going to have enough other things so no one walks away hungry, but with one 80# pig, not everyone is going to get pig.

You want something between 60 and 120 pounds. Smaller is inefficient, bigger too hard to flip -- even for a crew of experienced men, which you won't have. In my experience 80# is near ideal. In your shoes, I'd plan on two 100 pounders and hope everyone doesn't show up.

You didn't say how you're planning to cook. Digging a pit? Renting a big smoker? Caja china? Cochon au lait? Racer style? Butterfly? Head on? Head off?

One doesn't often get to say this: Whole pig (usually) takes less time than you think. Everybody thinks that because they see advertisements for 12 hour pork shoulders that a pig is going to take twice as long. Naaah. An 80# is probably going to take something like 6 hours.

But setup takes a heck of a lot longer than you think. Your whole thing is going to take a lot of manpower and a lot of logistics. Try and get everything but the paper products in place the night before. Organizing is going to be a lot more challenging than the pig. You should already be assigning people and transportation their hours. Setup is going to take at least four very motivated, organized people, plus a large van or pick'emup truck; more people and trucks are better. If some of the setup people are going to be doing the food as well -- you're going to need more people.

It's going to take four, strong men with gloves to flip the pig. Organize them early.

If you're cooking for lunch, you'll want to start well before dawn.

Have a very detailed plan for getting the pigs from the cooker to the table, and for retaining adequate table space to put them down. You do not want a bunch of panicked people trying to clear table space while you're carrying a hot, 100 pound pig.

If you get your food done a little early, it's not a tragedy. Try and allow the pig some resting time -- like a half hour. Try all you want, it's not going to happen. That bad boy comes out of the cooker, and he is gone.

Figure out how you're going to serve the pig

I can't give you many details about cooking a pig, unless you say what your plan is and your specific questions. It kind of leaves me (and anyone else who wants to help) in the position of writing a treatise on pig preparation which won't have anything to do with your plans.

post #3 of 25
Skip the whole pig and cook shoulders, or cook shoulders in addition to the pig and use the whole pig as a centerpiece. Without knowing what you are cooking on the rest would be a huge guess so no more help :lol:
post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 
we are going to be using a large smoker that has an attached grill with ample space for other food.. my friend had to tend it before to do a pig roast once... just stood there making sure there were logs to be burned... i will definitely have the manpower to set up all the equipment early on in the day.

the whole thing is planned to start at Noon and will go till 10pm. i already know im gonna be there setting up in the wee hours of the morning. We want the pig to be done by 4pm but we are going to be cooking food all during the day. ive been hearing people say they cook their pigs from 6-10 hours. other than tenderness i dont think a mass of inebriated people starving for pig will mind if they have to just chew 3 more times if i dig is longer lol...

Im hoping that with all the people we think are going to show up is that they come staggered.... i dont think it will be a big deal if we had 150 throughout the day but like 60-90 at all times with people coming and going would be fine. i do know for a fact there will be people who are vegetarians and others who wont touch the pig....
post #5 of 25
A 10 pound shoulder will typically feed 20 people so adding a few of them and getting them on early would give yo extra pork. Pull those and then set the whole pig in the center as a centerpiece that people can pull bits off throughout the service. Or have someone there with a knife serving and add a little of the whole pig along with the pulled shoulder.
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
thats a good idea maryb... thank you... i was thinkin of smoking a few loins as well.. i just know theres going to be a mass of drooling mouths waiting in front of the pig as soon as its done..

are the bones or leftovers good for stock? i know im gonna be eating pulled pork for weeks if theres any meat left.... which i dont mind one bit :lips:....

hopefully all the activities will distract and keep people at bay for a bit but we will just have to find out.
post #7 of 25
I'm not trying to tell you what or how much to cook. You asked, I answered.

An 80# pig is good for about 50 - 60 non-vegans. You said seventy. For seventy it's slim pickins. You also said 150, and for 150 it's just ridiculous. But apparently 150 isn't a real number. If you want to know how much to order, tell me how many people you think will actually be eating pig, and I (or Mary) can tell you how much pig you need.

If I were "throwing a pig roast" I'd make the pig(s) the center of attraction and have enough for the number of people expected. But that's me.

The size pig you're talking about is about half the size of the pig from which shoulders are taken. The shoulders and hams are the limiting factor of the cooking process. You'll also want to crisp the skin on the pig a little. That means that if you generally cook a full, 10# shoulder for 10 hours (including a stall) at 225 to 195-200F. At a lower internal temperature it won't pull properly. Any lower than about 180F, a big butt won't even slice right. Don't forget at least an hour rest on a shoulder before pulling. FWIW, I always allow 12 hours for a shoulder at 235. The number includes a rest and some fail-safe.

You'll probably cook an 80# pig for about 6 hours with at least a couple of those hours at 250-260F (to crisp the skin), you're looking for around 170-175F internal at the ham and a 180-185 at the shoulder. I don't know where you get the 10 hour figure but that's one huge pig or a very low temperature. The shoulders of an 80# pig don't have to be cooked to the same temperature as the shoulders from a 250# pig -- which where butts and picnics usually come from. A butterflied pig will cook about 15% faster than a racer-style pig. Do you know which you're doing yet?

Loin is still different. It's best cooked hotter, say the 250-275F range to around 155-160F. You'll take a whole loin from refrigerator temperature to done in less than three hours at that temp without any stall.

One thing you're going to have to watch out for is keeping the smoker's doors closed during the cook. You can't be moving other food in and out with frequent door openings, basting, showing off for the tourists, etc., and expect to do good barbecue. An open door is the enemy -- as bad as running out of beer to give it some perspective. That said, a bigger smoker is more forgiving in this respect than a smaller one. But still... You might want to consider a separate smoker. If I were filling in with butt or shoulder, I'd smoke it the day before and heat onsite.

You certainly can use leftover bones for stock. You're going to get a fair bit of smoke in the stock, which is an interesting thing. A tiny bit of meat will stick to the bones, and it will add a little to the stock -- but cooked meat is really limited in terms of what it can add to any stock. No problem, that's why pork "cushion meat" is still so cheap.

At the number or people and amount of meat you're currently talking about, I wouldn't expect a lot of leftover meat anyway.

post #8 of 25

Do you guys have to be so descriptive when writing? Be sure to crisp the skin, pig this pig that.

You're making me hungry!


(oh...hope everything works out well on the pig roast! and I've been to pig roast before where they were just smokin' some shoulders. Big disappointment (nothing against the shoulders of course :))
post #9 of 25
I have done a couple of pig roasts. My best help to you, is to wear insulated rubber gloves. If you forget to buy these and use fabric gloves, have a 5 gallon bucket of cold water and keep dipping your gloved hands in the water.

The reason for the rubber, is to keep your hands dry. My first roast I had no gloves. What a pain in the butt using tongs. Second roast, fabric gloves and water. The hands hurt but the pig was served much faster. Third pig, insulated rubber gloves. The heat comes through, but it is manageable.

Get rubber gloves!!!
post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 
i cant say exactly how many people will be there... there will are at least 50 definites, being myself and all the good friends in our 'group' i guess you could say....

i think what i will have to end up doing is smoking like 4 shoulders the day before... then the day of the party, reheat and pull onsite like you mentioned BDL.... and just keep it in some 6in. half pans with sterno's.

as for rubber gloves, i will have to get some.. my hands can take some crazy heat these days but a burning hot pig i wont be able to handle with just a few latex gloves on lol.

for the style of pig were gonna cook... i think were going to have to do racer style... im pretty sure it wont be able to fit the pig if it was butterflied.. correct me if im wrong but racer style is just about the same as butterflied but just not split all the way?? if so then that will be good.... ive seen some nice butterflied pigs that turned out amazing but they all seem to be cooked in a homemade big rectangular brick smokers...
post #11 of 25
Go to and search for gloves. They carry rubber insulated gloves that will let you handle the hot pork with no problems at all.
post #12 of 25
Cook the 80 lb pig and show for a demo. I did a lot of these in Hawaii. I would have the pig all dressed with lots of greens, colorful fruits around a pig board. Cook off pork butts called (Kalua pig). Its Butts, hawaiian salt and liquid smoke. You could pack the Butts "after cooking" inside the pig. No one knows if they are eatting the pigs or the butts. Do it as a buffet and have a person serving the pig. Lots of waste on a Pig so think of a 80 lb pig with about 40% usable meat, about 32 lbs will feed about 80 people.........take care.............Bill
post #13 of 25
To butterfly a pig you split him down the belly, and open him up flat. That takes breaking the rib bones on one side. Then you stick a couple of skewers through him -- usually rebar to hold him that way, wire his legs to the rebar, then wire another piece of rebar across those pieces, to hold them together and form a tree. Finally, you wrap the whoe pig in light wire mesh fenching to keep him together and make him easy to turn. When you're ready to turn and/or flip him, you use the rebar as handles.

Racer style means you let him keep his shape, and arrange him as though he were crouched. His upper legs point forward, but his lower legs and hooves point back in the same direction as the tail. If you're going to stuff the pig at all, even aromatics for roasting, peaches and onions for instance, go racer. Again, you wrap the pig in wire mesh, and wire it together, so you can pick him up and turn him. Again, you wrap the pig in wire mesh, and wire it together, so you can pick him up and turn him. If it's a big pig, you wire him to a rebar tree (as described) to make turning a little easier. You're not going to flip a racer style pig -- but that's not an issue in a smoker, only open pit or cochon au lait.

Semi-racer is racer style, but the rear legs and hams are extended backwards. Beginners tend to find that this cooks most evenly -- but I think it loses its utility once you get over 60# or so. Again with the wire and rebar, if you plan on turning the pig. Turning probably isn't absolutely necessary in a very large, and well tuned pit. I just haven't cooked a pig in that pit, yet.

I've found it easiest to carry a racer style pig to the table, by putting him on a custom made stretcher made from two 2x12s, cut and nailed together for the purpose, and covered with an enormous amount of heavy duty foil. You can get rid of all the wire and rebar once you get him to the table.

If I didn't say it before, I'll say it now. You want to start with a designated space at the table for your pig(s), and keep that space empty. You do not want to improvise during the party.

When you do wire and rebar -- don't do a half-a$$ed a job. Yes, it will fall apart, and yes you will look like a fool. Try and remember that your dearest friends will be helping you turn and move the pig, and that they are complete morons who mean well, have never done this before, and are champions at unintentional physical comedy.

post #14 of 25

Pig Roast 101

This might be of interest, from a BBQ Forum I read. It has photos also.

The Smoke Ring :: View topic - Pig Roast 101
post #15 of 25
A great website that'll give LOTS of information concerning pork roasts (boston butts and picnic loafs) would be:

The Virtual Weber Bullet - For the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker smoker enthusiast

I use information at this website for all of my smoking and outdoor roasting activities, not to mention that I, too, own a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker. It's probably the best charcoal fired unit on the market today.

And "The Smoke Ring" mentioned in the previous post is also a great place for bbqing information, a source that I reference often.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.



Brot und Wein
(1 photos)

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.



Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 
hahaha... so.. so true. although even tho i also consider myself a champion of unintentional physical comedy too... we tend to compete with each other daily lol...
post #17 of 25
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
post #18 of 25

 I have roasted over 4,000 pigs for events ranging fomr 30 to 2500 guests. Always happy to answer questions.


Jim @ Colby's 2004_0520_164928.JPG

post #19 of 25

Hey Guys,

Agree with the centerpiece idea from Mary Chef D, have done a ton, (literally lol.gif) and found that whole hog roasts are A-L-O-T of work. Bang for the buck, smaller hog  for show & Boston butts for dough! I've experienced as many people that want to see the whole hog as don't. You know the type, didn't know my pork chop had a face!  We have started to do smaller (10lb+) de boned skin on shoulders as Porchettta to pretty warm receptions (he said in the most modest of ways) along with the BB.

While I LOVE roast pork & enjoy the whole hog, I detest the whole hog clean up, have also staged the various pork to come off before the hog as everyone can smell the pig roast & wants to eat NOW, so pig at intervals seems to satisfy and do the proverbial trick, no complaints yet.

We have also offset with grilled chicken & deep fried turkeys along with staging the pork.

A trick I was taught for the Porchetta btw is to wrap oven baked smoked bacon or Prosciutto in the roll, adds a Italian/Cuban double pork punch! We have taken to slicing the Porchetta thin for sandwiches







"Ars Est Celare Artem"


True art, is to conceal art......


"Ars Est Celare Artem"


True art, is to conceal art......

post #20 of 25
Originally Posted by cape chef View Post

Enjoy this from Nicko,

Spit Roasting A Pig - ChefTalk Photo Gallery

Hey what happened to that article? Some of that stuff Nicko used to post was great. Like the Honolulu fish market article.



I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
post #21 of 25


Interesting post ...



Thinking of roast Spanish Segovian Cochinillo ( baby piglets 2 to 4 kilos ) ... This is lovely white tender succulent meat ... and the key is the crisp skin, rubbed with manteca de cerdo = pork lard.


T.U. Kind Regards.



post #22 of 25



 I have roasted over 4,000 pigs for events ranging fomr 30 to 2500 guests. Always happy to answer questions.


Certainly not to call ones veracity into ?, but man, that's a lot a "p-i-g_hog" ("Justin Wilson) so let's see, 4K pigs, if you did


1 p-i-g_hog a week that's 50/hogs/year =  80 years


2/week/100 hogs/year = 40 years


4/week/200 hogs/year =20 years


of course he could have done 5 pigs/week that's 250/year and that would only take 16 years,



just sayin............................smiles.gif

"Ars Est Celare Artem"


True art, is to conceal art......


"Ars Est Celare Artem"


True art, is to conceal art......

post #23 of 25


post #24 of 25

Nice pics.  :)  That's what I'm talking about!

post #25 of 25

Thanks.  It was the first whole hog roast ever held at the Stockton Sailing Club and a first for all involved as well.  The pork was amazingly moist and tender.  Cooked it to about 145 degrees internal.  Lots of work and lots of fun!  The rig was somewhat jury rigged and the drive chain on the spit popped off a few times as the pork shifted when rotating, but multiple fixes and it ran well finally.  Took about 8 to 9 hours 'til done.  After that the makeshift oven was disassembled and it rested on the turning spit with just enough coals to keep it hot but not cook it further until time to pull it and get ready for the dinner.  Kudos to all involved!

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