Seven Great Tips In Cooking Your Whole Pig
Here are a few tips that you need to follow to have a whole pig that not only tastes good, but looks good enough for your presentation too.
Stay 12″ Away From Your Heat Source When Cooking your Whole Pig.
Your cooking time is going to vary depending on the size of your hog and the method you are using to smoke it… but if you are using an 80lb hog (which is what I would recommend to get started with) then it should take you approx. 8-10 hours at about 250 degrees if you stay about 12″ away from the heat source. You don’t want to be too close – and you don’t want to be too far away.
Keep Your Sweet Stuff On The Inside of Your Whole Pig
I would avoid putting anything sweet on the outside of the whole pig until an hour before it is finished. If you use a glaze with a high sugar content any longer than an hour, it will burn. I make an injection that is sweet and put as much of this sweetness inside the meat as possible. This is exactly what we do for the 150-200 lb hogs that we smoke.
Always Inject Your Whole Pig
A good injection is 64oz Apple Juice mixed with 1 cup Sugar, 1 cup Corn Syrup or Molasses, and 1 cup Finely Ground Dry Rub ( the rub has to be a fine powder or it will clog your injector). I make up 4 batches of this and inject it into the Shoulders, Hams, Loins, and along the sides (where the bacon is located).
Keep your Whole Pig Belly-Up
If you have the option – smoke your whole pig belly-up. The body of the pig will act like a bowl and self-marinate with the injections and the rendered fat. If you you’re your pig running-style, all your liquid is going to drip out.
Make A Little Appetizer For Your Friends
Some people recommend packing the cavity with is fresh sausage. I usually pack it around the loins and ribs to keep these areas from drying out. I’ve seen people use chickens, pork butts, or slab bacon in the cavity. I’d be a little scared of the chicken though just because of possible cross contamination and improper cooking temps… but these are all ideas you can experiment with. I’m not sure how much flavor the sausage imparts to the hog – but the flavor of the sausage after being smoked inside of a hog is the best you will ever taste. For that reason alone, I recommend doing it… I promise you will impress some people with it.
Always Dry Rub
Make sure to apply your dry rub to any exposed meat. I also rub on a thin coat of regular yellow mustard before applying the dry rub. It helps it to stick to the meat really well and give the meat a great flavor.
Presentation of Your Whole Pig Is The Most Important Part
You want to spray the outer skin of your whole pig with cooking spray or rub it down with a vegetable oil. This will make it have a really nice “tan” color instead of a dark burnt look. You can even wrap the ears, snout, and tail in aluminum foil to keep them from turning to dark. It’s basically an appearance thing but you want the end result to look good as well as taste great.