Whole Hog

The whole hog is a cook that your family and friends will never forget! Whole hog can be special ordered from your local butcher or obtained from your local hog farmer. You can expect to pay anywhere between $1-$1.79 per pound. For this cook I choose a 120lb hog that would easily feed 70 or 80 guests.

This is a unique recipe to prepare a whole hog that turns out excellent results every time. Normally whole hogs are cooked quickly 6-12 hours over direct heat. The hogs used for this type of cook is prepared with the skin still on the pig. However, I prefer to cook the hog almost like an enormous pork shoulder for 15-18 hours. Therefore, I request my butcher remove the skin and fat from the hog. Cooking the hog without the skin has two benefits. 1. I am able to apply rub to the entire surface area of meat for added flavor. 2. The pig will take in more of the smoke I use. For this cook I choose a 120lb whole hog and cooked it on the 30X96 Mobile Unit from Peoria Custom Cookers.

I picked up my hog from the butcher 12 hours before I was planning on cooking and needed a way to keep it cold. I placed the pig in a kiddy pool covered it ice and then put a tarp over the top. This method easily keep the pig very cold Since I was planning on serving the Whole Hog on Sunday afternoon I fired up the pit at 5pm Saturday afternoon. I light two full chimneys of charcoal and added 3 logs of hickory and apple wood. While the 30X96 Mobile unit was coming to temp I prepared the whole hog. I let the pit warm to 250 degrees while I rubbed the the whole hog. I choose to put a moderate amount of the rub directly on the meat. Also, at this point you could inject the hog with your favorite apple juice based recipes. Once I finished rubbing the hog I let it rest at room temperature for 1 hour.

At 6pm the Peoria Custom Cooker 30X96 Mobile Unit was right at 250 degrees and it was time to put the Hog on the cooker. I removed the top to grates on side of the 30X96 unit a placed the hog on the lowest grate. This cooker could easily hold two 120lb hogs. Over the next several hours I added several more logs of hickory and apple and about 48 ounces of a mixed hardwood sawdust.

To make sure I would get a good night sleep I set up my Maverick ET-73 wireless thermometer. This thermometer has two probes and monitors the temperature of the pit and the internal temp of the meat. This unit also has high and low alarms. I set the alarms to go off if the temp in the pit rose above 250 degrees or if the temp dropped below 200 degrees. I placed the wireless thermometer on my night stand and fell asleep.

Around 3:30 am the temperature in the pit fell to 200 degrees and my wireless alarm went off and woke me up. I went downstairs and added another full load of unlit charcoal, a hickory log, and was back asleep by 3am. Again at 7:30am the alarm sounded as the temps had dropped to 200 degrees. This time however I did not add any fuel. I simply stirred the coals to remove any ash and the temperature shot right back up to around 225 degrees.

Around 8:30am my hog had reached 170 degrees internal temperature. I measured the temperature of the hog in the deepest part of the ham. The hog had hit a plateau at 170 degrees and the temps started to rise very, very, slowly. This is the time when the fat and connective tissues is rendering off and will allow to be fork tender and juicy when finished.

At 1 pm the internal temp of the hog was 178 degrees and had been cooking for just about 18 hours. Since I did not want the loin to shred like a pork shoulder I placed foil around the mid section of the hog to slow down the cooking process and left the hams and shoulders exposed to the heat. By 4pm the temperature of the loin was 180 degrees and the hams and shoulders were 188 degrees.

Time to Eat!
Finally at 5 pm it was time to eat. Using a sharp knife I shred cut out the loins, ribs, and bacon and sliced or chunked up the meat. The hams and shoulders I used a tool called bear paws to easily shred the pork. I then added rub and a vinegar based bbq sauce to the shredded pork and mixed it up. I served the pork with my favorite vinegar based sauce Georges as well as my favorite red sauce head country. All of my guests enjoyed the hog. The meat was extremely moist and flavorful since I was able to rub the entire pig with rub. It had a thick bark, was plenty moist, and very very flavorful.