DIY Barbecue Guide: roasting a suckling pig in 12 not-too-hard steps

DIY Barbecue Guide: roasting a suckling pig in 12 not-too-hard steps

This Little Piggy
(Image: Joel Kimmel)

The primitive pig roast is the latest fad for cottage weekends. Like Lord of the Flies for foodies, it’s the ultimate exercise in communal cooking. With a few friends, a spit and some elbow grease, you can create an unforgettable meal.

1. Order the beast from your butcher a couple days in advance. A 30-lb. piglet will easily feed 20 people. They’re available at The Butcher Shoppe for $120. 121 Shorncliffe Rd., 416-234-2290.

2. Rent a pig roaster. The Event Centre offers a spit and charcoal grill combination so you don’t have to dig a hole in the ground. It’s $125 for the weekend. 130 Industry St., Units 1–3, 416-762-7417.

3. At any hardware store, buy more charcoal than you ever thought you could use (about 70 lbs.).

4. In a large cooler, brine the piglet overnight in a saltwater bath (2 cups of salt, 18 litres of water) with whatever herbs, vinegars and ciders you like. There’s no need to get too fancy; this step is more about moisture than flavour.

5. An hour or so before you’re ready to roast, pat the pig dry with paper towel and rub generously with salt and pepper, making sure to get it in all the nooks and crannies. Stuff the cavity with garlic and a handful each of fresh rosemary, thyme, tarragon and whatever other fresh herbs you like.

6. Meanwhile, another member of your party can get the fire going at a consistent medium heat (it helps to have a charcoal master or two on hand).

7. Spear the piglet through the mouth and out the back end. Truss it to the spit with stainless steel wire. Be sure to tie it tightly because the pig will slide around as the meat cooks down. It’s helpful to consult illustrations of the process online.

8. With a couple of friends, hoist the piglet and set the spit over the steadily burning fire. Turn on the rotating device and settle in to the exquisite olfactory torture that attends six or seven hours of sizzling pork fat. Baste the beast occasionally with olive oil.

9. Find a distraction, like croquet or bocce ball, so you and your guests can pass the time without going meat-mad.

10. It’s done when a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the leg reads 155º F. Turn off the rotator, remove the spit, cover the pig loosely with foil, and let it rest for 20 minutes.

11. Carve into thick slices and serve in rustic baguette sandwiches with sharp mustard and herb-infused oil—but only after tearing off the first 20-odd slices with your bare hands.

12. Turn the colossal leftovers into pig’s-head soup and more pork sandwiches.