Cooking a Whole Pig Rotisserie?
Using a rotisserie to cook a whole pig is a magical experience. Not only the amazing aroma but also the grandeur of seeing it slowly transform in to a feast is fantastic. Once your pig is well prepared, the actual cooking part using a rotisserie requires minimal skill – just a little bit of patience! A whole animal usually takes at least 6 hours of cooking – it really is an all day affair, but that’s what makes the end result so spectacular. As a rule of thumb, factor in at least an hour per 10lbs meat. Get yourself a simple meat thermometer to monitor the progress of your spit roast.
You need to choose the proper size of your rotisserie because pigs come in a variety of sizes and having the appropiate equipment to do the job is crucial to getting an excellent end result. As far as preparation goes, get to know your local butcher. A good butcher can source and prepare a suitable sized animal for your needs, taking all the hard work out of it for you!
The one rule of the roast is that the heat source has got to be at least twelve inches away from the meat. Most larger roast machines come ready set at twelve inches, so you won’t need to worry about that. The heat needs to be kept constant as the spit roast turns.
Accessories for a Large Whole Pig Rotisserie
Using a heavy duty pit rotisserie, which is made specifically for the purpose of roasting a whole pig is one of the easiest and most functional ways. You can check out either of the units pictured below on Amazon by clicking on the images – they are both top of the line pieces of equipment and while they are a substantial investment up front, you will be able to use them over and over again. (I’ve even hired mine out to friends a few times for large birthday gatherings and a wedding!)
- The SpitJack P150 Whole Hog Rotisserie, which is also called “The Beast”, can be used for large whole roasts such as pigs, lambs or goats Almost any large animal can be safely and securely roasted on this heavy duty campfire rotisserie which is field tested up to 200 lb. You need to slowly turn your roast over the fire pit.
- These heavy-duty spit rods are made of stainless steel and are strong enough to hold an entire pig for roasting, allowing you to roast like a pro in your own backyard. These rotisserie units are ideal for roasting animals up tp 125 lb over an open fire or coals. You can roast whole chickens, hogs, goats or lamb with almost no effort! Our large rotisserie spit has become a staple part of large family gathering such as Thanksgiving now and I am up before sunrise getting the coals going!
Accessories for a Smaller Whole Pig Rotisseries
When you’re cooking a smaller roast such as a suckling pig which is typically under 20 lb, a smaller fire pit rotisserie can sometimes be the best choice. Firepit rotisserie set ups cost much less than a freestanding pit rotisserie and are compact and portable, making them a great option to take on camping trips.
Firepit rotisseries can be used with a hotplate to cook up extras such as vegetable skewers at the same time, or simply mounted directly above the fire pit to spit roast your pig over the hot coals below.
Before I bought the large whole pig rotisserie, I already had a smaller one and my smaller spit still gets a run on many camping trips. Spit roasting a whole animal gets massive “wow” factor from everyone in our group and you can easily cook a suckling pig or a couple of chickens over an hour if your firepit is punching out anough heat.
Remember, once your animal is cooked, you will need to carve the meat, so you will need carving tools to make this easy.
Operating the Rotisserie
Once the rotisserie has been fully assembled, double check the screws and bolts are checked for tightness and proper adjustment. You don’t want your beautifully roasted meal to fall in the coals when it’s time to start carving! Once you load your animal on to the roasting shaft, make sure that the spit is turning smoothly and the motor is running without any unusual noises.
Prepping the Pig for Whole Pig Rotisserie
As I mentioned before, it’s worth forming a good relationship with your local butcher to do the prep work for you. Once you get your animal to the spit, it’s a good idea to scrub the animal down thoroughly and dry it before you begin. Dry skin will create the best crackling. Once patted dry, give it a good rubbing, inside and out with salt.
As far as any culinary preparations, there are of course endless options. Since it’s not very easy to brine a large animal, flavor injection is more popular and there are many flavor combinations for injectable flavourings you can use. You can inject up to 12 hours before cooking. Once you’ve mastered the art of spit roasting a whole pig, try playing around with flavours by basting your meat. My favourite is char siew (sticky Chinese bbq sauce).
Since the animal will cook for many hours and end with a high internal temperature, you can stow just about anything (pork buts, turkeys, sausages, etc.) in the belly and it will cook through. Stuffing should be done after the animal is rigged to the spit.
Attaching the meat to the spit: just as there is no standard way to cook a whole animal, there is no standard way to rig the animal for cooking, and there are probably as many variations as there are cooks. For use with this machine, we recommend a specific method of securing the animal to the spit that will keep the animal from loosening.
Instead of using forks at each end (this technique is more practical for solid pieces of meat such as a roast) we recommend “lashing” the backbone of the animal directly to the spit by stitching it with butchers twine and a special trussing needle.
Note: this process can take as long as two hours. Try to have someone helping you and plan the timing accordingly.
Trussing and Binding
The other thing to consider is how to keep the animal intact until the end of cooking. Because of the size of the animal (the larger the animal, the bigger this problem), the prolonged cooking times, and the condition of the meat when fully cooked, some parts of the animal may become loose towards the end of cooking.
Because the meat gets soft, some shrinkage occurs, connective tissue is broken down, so the cooked pig may start to lose its rigidity.Unless properly held together, parts of the animal may become dislodged and fall off.
To address this, some people wrap the animal in chicken wire to form a crude cage and sometimes even tighten the apparatus as needed during the cooking. This can be cumbersome and unhealthy (most chicken wire is treated with poisonous zinc compound).
We suggest both trussing the whole length of the animal at intervals with butcher’s twine and using over-sized worm gear hose clamps on the fore and hindquarters as a backup. It’s also a good idea to sew up the belly, even if it’s empty, to make the cooking easier.
Maintenance of the Rotisserie
Care of the rotisserie is simple and inexpensive but should be done regularly to ensure you get the maximum lifetime from your product.
Before the first use and after extended storage:
- Clean the entire spit assembly (inside and out) with warm soapy water, rinse and dry thoroughly. Coat the spit bearing rings and spit connector pipe lightly with vegetable or other food-safe oil.
- Wipe off any excess oil, dirt or residual packaging from the rest to the parts. After each use and before extended storage, wipe down or wash other parts as needed. Dry and touch up with heat safe paint if needed.
Store in a dry place until next use. Cover the motor assembly if possible to prevent dust and dirt accumulation.
- Rust protection
Keeping certain parts lubricated (lightly coated with oil or other anti-corrosive material) or touching up paint scrapes or chips will prevent premature rust and corrosion.
- The spit bearing rings. These are not stainless steel (although they are highly polished) and need to be coated after each use and cleaning to prevent rusting and pitting.
- The spit connector pipe is blackened steel and needs to be coated after each use and cleaning to prevent rusting and pitting.
- Touch up any chipping or scratches with high heat black paint (usually made for stoves or BBQ grills).
The motor is a well-built, rugged component that will last years if properly used and maintained.
- Try not to expose it to too much dust or dirt while in use and keep it as dry as possible.
- Keep it as dry as possible.
- Occasionally oil the drive shaft with some oil.