Chef Notes: “It’s easy to make a good whole roasted pig; very hard to make a bad roasted pig. Even harder to make a really good roasted pig. I like to cook them a la asador [on an iron cross], but you can use any outdoor smoker. Primitive open-fire cooking at its best.” — Cosmo Goss, The Publican (Chicago, IL)
1 pig, 100 lbs.
Chili Salumeria Brine
The Publican’s Chili Salumeria Brine
1 cup water
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
3 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 small red or green chile pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add salt and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool. Meanwhile, wrap the peppercorns in a kitchen towel and pound with a mallet until cracked. Place in a mortar along with garlic, lemon zest, juice, chopped chile, mint, parsley and red pepper flakes and pound together to a rough paste. Whisk in vinegar, half the salted water and olive oil. Taste for seasoning and stir in more salted water if desired. Let stand for 30 minutes.
1. Split the pig’s backbone three-fourths of the way so it lays completely flat. Ask your local butcher for help. Lightly season with Kosher salt. If using iron cross, tie the hind legs at the top; shoulder and head at the bottom.
2. Fire up the grill. Start with the flesh side towards the fire.
3. Spray the pig with the brine every half hour. We use a clean bug sprayer from Home Depot, but any spray bottle would work.
4. After two or three hours, rotate the cross or flip the pig. The whole process should take 5-6 hours for a 100-lb. hog. If using a meat thermometer, pull the pig from the heat when it’s 130 degrees in the thickest part of the shoulder or leg. The meat should start to peel away from the bones.
5. Pull off the grill and let cool for 15 minutes. Pull the meat off the bones. Enjoy.
a. Machete Spatula: Capable of opening bottles, slicing through meat and flipping burgers. Also looks seriously badass.
b. Texas Smoke Bag: Easiest way to step up any roast. Homegrown bags of wood chips by way of Texas. Just throw ’em in the ‘cue and you’re done.
c. Bear Paw Meat Handlers: The best way to shred your meats. Also good for fighting.
d. La Caja Grill: This roasting box can handle a one-hundred-pound hog. A goat or three. Simple. Portable. Smokes like a champ.
e. Weber Grill Gloves: Silicone patterns for grip. Perfect for handling items hot off the grill, or you know, flipping a pig.