How the hell does one go about roasting a pig in a box?
If you’re like Carla and me, you love good food, good friends and you LOVE a good pig roast. So what better for the 4th of July than to buy a 100 pound pig and invite over 100 of your best friends? But the question is, how the hell does one go about roasting a pig in a box?
The first step, is deciding how to roast the pig. There are a few options here:
- a smoker will undoubtedly give you the best flavor and most tender meat, but for a whole hog big enough for 100 people, you’re going to need a large commercial smoker and likely over 24 hours tending the fire to get it cooked
- a spit is a fun and entertaining option, and easily rented, but will again take a long time – not only that, the open flames will inevitably burn the skin to a crisp before the meat is ready
- an in ground pit is a good option – not a lot of equipment is needed, cooking time is fairly quick, and you should be able to eat the skin – but you will need to dig a large pit in your backyard and then fill it in again when you’re done
- to me, the best option is roasting pig in a box or a Caja China, available to buy or rent from many places online – you’ll be able to cook the pig in around eight hours and will be left with juicy, tender meat and crunchy, salty, and delicious roast pig skin to fight your guests over
The second step is to buy the pig. Figure about 1 pound per person and make sure you can get it at least 30 hours before the party. I ordered mine from Hernandez Beef in Elizabeth, NJ, they have great prices and high quality, fresh meat. When you go to pick up your pig, you’ll need a cooler large enough to store the pig packed in ice – a 100 quart cooler should be large enough for the job, preferably one with wheels ‘cause pigs are HEAVY.
You’ll also need a large meat injector – essentially a hypodermic needle for a horse – because the day before the party you should make a brine of salt, sugar, liquid, and acid to flavor the meat and keep it tender and juicy (I use bourbon, apple cider vinegar, apple cider, garlic, paprika, chili powder, cayenne, brown sugar, and a whole lotta salt).
The day before the party the fun kicked off when I split open the pig’s spine. You need a meat cleaver and a hammer so you can crack open the vertebrae, spread the ribs, and splay the pig out flat to lay. Yeah, it’s as awesome (and as horrifying) as it sounds. Our four and seven year old kids helped – they LOVED it.
Next step is to inject the some flavorful marinade. The shoulders, legs, butt, and loin will take a lot of juice, but don’t forget the legs and ribs too. My 4 year old son loved this part…
Once the pig is spatch-cocked and juiced up, it’s time to start the plan of attack. I’ve planned a lot of parties, and in my experience, there is only one way to do it – backwards. In my case, the last thing I had to do was carve the pig, which I wanted to do at 7pm, so everyone would be done eating and ready for fireworks at 8:30.
Roasting a pig in a box takes about 6 hours to cook, 30 minutes to crisp the skin, and 30 minutes to rest before carving, so I needed the pig in the box and the charcoal lit at noon, get flipped over at six, and come out of the box at 6:30. We were also serving hot dogs for the kids, potato salad, baked macaroni and cheese, cole slaw, and Carla’s famous corn and bean salad, plus grilling up the pig’s heart and kidneys. The hot dogs and offal would cook quick, letting me grill these up at 6:30 while the pig rests.
With your pig party plan prepared, it’s time to help the kids decorate their bikes & head over to the annual 4th of July bike parade, then get ready for the fun!