They say a pig roast is not the best way to cook pork, as you have to take the whole hog to almost 200F, but I say phooey on that! The roast pork is outstanding and the presentation is priceless!
I have a Traeger Texas, which has a 34″ grate. I can get a 20-40# hog on the grill without modifications, or, I grilled 70-80# hogs by removing the head and feet and cooking those along side the pig, or on another grill.
Roasting a pig is really easy. Some people will inject it, some will make a menagerie of rubs, I keep it simple. For a rub, take equal parts salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Later the pig inside and out with yellow mustard and sprinkle the rub all over, saving some to mix with the roast pork before serving.
Place the hog on the grill at 250F and let ‘er go until internal temp reaches 195-200F. For a small hog, that could be 5 hours. The 71# hog I did last week took 9 hours.
When done, carefully remove the hog from the grill and start ripping it apart. I keep 3 pans, one for good meat, 1 for skin, and 1 for bones, cartilage and other stuff no one wants to eat. Some people love the skin. I find it variable, from nice crisp crunchy pieces, to chewy bites that work better as dog toys. For the head, I cut out the eyes (not an easy thing to do) and replace them with cherries. You can also put an apple in it’s mouth.
After you shred the meat, hit it with some rub to taste and serve. Best….food….ever! The pictures below are from the 71 pounder roasted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even the hog was COVID compliant!
Burnt Ends, a super tasty nugget of cow that just melts in your mouth. And it should, after 18-24 hours of cooking!
When making a beef brisket, I almost always use a Packer brisket. After cooking, before the final rest, you can separate the point from the flat. Let the flat rest for slicing later, but chop the point into 1″ cubes. Place in a metal pan with a bit of rub and any juices you were able to salvage from the Texas Crutch while cooking the brisket.
Smoke at 225 for 6-8 hours, stirring the burnt ends every 60-90 minutes, and adding a bit more rub each time. For the last hour, hit the pan with a bit of BBQ sauce, stirring well to coat all the burnt ends, and let the sauce set up. Delicious!
There are many ways to do a beef brisket, and none of them are fast. First thing you have to decide is if you are going to cook a full Packer brisket, or just the flat. I tend to go with the full brisket, and if I can find a USDA Prime brisket, I stock up. A full brisket will allow you to separate the point from the flat after cooking so you can turn the point into burnt ends.
Trimming the brisket is a science in itself. You don’t want to trim it of all the fat, but leave about 1/4″ on. Especially the white, fluffy fat, which will render nicely during your cook.
Next, you want to season the brisket. There are many commercial seasonings on the market and complicated recipes that use a dozen spices. The simplest, and most tasty solution, is one I picked up from Aaron Franklin in the Masters Series of videos. He uses equal amounts of salt and pepper. That’s it. This should produce a nice dark bark. When I serve it, people are beside themselves that it only has salt and pepper as a rub.
Did I mention cooking a brisket is not a quick ordeal? Mine will typically go 12-14 hours on the grill, before a 2-4 hour rest. Makes for a long day, or, you can cook overnight while trying to catch a few Zs between mops. One rule of thumb I’ve seen is about 1-1.25 hours/pound.
Set your smoker for 250. When placing your brisket on the grill, you must make a decision between fat up or fat down. People are as opinionated about this as they are Republicans or Democrats. I always go fat up. My theory is that the fat will render during the cook and permeate the meat. I actually experimented once with two flats, cooking one up and one down. The one I cooked fat up was much juicier and more tender than fat down.
Just let it go for the first 3 hours. No peaking. This is the critical time for the brisket to absorb smoke and create a bark. After 3 hours, I will spritz it with an equal mix of apple juice and apple cider vinegar. I do this every hour until wrapped.
At 165F, wrap the brisket in foil and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 198F. At that point, remove the brisket from the smoker. If you want to make burnt ends, cut off the point and see my recipe for burnt ends. Rewrap the flat in butcher paper nice and tight. Wrap it then in a blanket and place in a cooler to rest for 2-4 hours.
Your going to want to slice the brisket against the grain. It’s easy to figure out the flat, but the point gets tricky. Just like with rubs, there are a number of different ways to do it. Some get really anal about what they keep and what they toss while slicing, and how they do it. I just want to get the meat to the table so we can eat!
That tasty, succulent, salty goodness you can only get from a pig. Takes a bit of work, but the results are far worth the effort. If you like your bacon thick, this is the only way to do it. Cutting slices about 1/4″ thick, they fry up nicely like ham steaks, or, you can throw them on the BBQ grill over direct heat, and finish them with a splash of BBQ sauce. So good.
To nitrate or not? I’ve tried both and I really can’t tell a difference. Since sodium nitrate gets a bad rap, I’ve chosen to go without. One advantage to the pink salt is preserving the food. Something about botulism risk if you don’t, but so far, so good. I keep mine frozen and just slice pieces off as I need them.
I start with a 10# slab of pork belly, skin removed, from Costco. If you end up getting pork belly with skin on, just trim it off and make yourself some cracklins! Make yourself a cure of 1/2C sea salt, 1C raw sugar and 2T ground black pepper. You can always add other stuff to the rub for additional flavors, like red pepper, paprika, garlic, etc. Play around with different flavors and see what you like.
Next, slice the pork belly into 3 equal pieces that will fit in 1 gallon zip lock bags. Divide the rub between the 3 slabs, pressing on both sides of the pork belly and then placing in a zip lock bag. Throw any extra rub into the bags.
Refrigerate for 5 days. However, you need to flip each bag over each day. The rub will pull moisture out of the pork belly and flipping the belly helps it to evenly cure. After 5 days, dump out the brine and rinse the belly. Place back in the fridge on a wire rack for another 2 days. This allows pellicle to form, which allows the smoke to adhere better.
Smoke for about 4 hours at 180F. Turn the heat up to 225 and continue cooking until the meat reaches 150F. Let it cool on wire rack. Make sure you close the windows in your house so the entire home will smell like bacon! At this point, it is done and you can eat it as is. Or, fry, bake, or grill it to your heart’s desire. They say refrigerated bacon has a shelf life for 2-3 days. I vacuum seal mine and keep it frozen until use.
Another finishing option is to make Chronic Bacon. Found this little gem at Biscuit Love in Nashville. Sugary, spicy bacon that is more like eating pig candy! For each pound of bacon you want to prepare, use a rub of 1/4C brown sugar, 1/2t crushed red pepper, 1/2t black pepper, and 1/2t (or to taste) cayenne pepper. Slice the bacon a bit on the thick side and toss in the rub. Line a cookie tray with foil and place a wire rack over the top. You need the foil so you don’t have to excavate the caramelized sugars from the pan when done. I have also just used foil, crumpled up and spread back out, which creates somewhat of the same effect, allowing the bacon to sit off the pan a bit. Bake in a 350F oven for 30 minutes or until done. The sugar will caramelize into a dark, golden brown. Remove from the rack immediately, or it will stick to the rack as the sugar cools. When you pull the bacon, it will be slightly crispy, but will firm up when cooled. Eat now or refrigerate until ready.
I have heard that nothing is wasted on a hog but the squeal! So what do you do with that tough skin? Turn them into crispy, salty, crunchy nuggets of love!
Start by taking the skin with fat on and cutting into 1-2″ strips. Put in a large covered pot and boil for 30 minutes to soften them up and render some of the fat out. You may want to open a window, too, as the pungent odor from boiled pig skin can be nasty.
Salt each strip and hit it with your favorite rub. The rub I used for smoked pork belly burnt ends will work well. Fire your smoker up to 225F and lay them fat side down for an hour. Then, crank the heat up to 400F and go another 45-60 minutes until they are golden brown.
Remove from grill and hit them with some more salt, rub, cayenne pepper, and/or hot sauce. These are perfect if you’re on an Atkins or Keto style of diet.
Similar to the succulent nuggets of beef love you get from a beef brisket burnt ends, these pork belly burnt ends are even more tender and juicy than it’s beef counterpart, and they don’t take 2 days to make!
Start with a 5# or so slab of pork belly. If the skin is on, you will need to remove it. You’re going to want to cut the pork belly into 1.5-2″ cubes, so I find it easiest to just score the skin into 1.5-2″ strips, cut away the skin, and then finish the cut, removing the strip of pork belly, and trimming the next strip.
Cut the pork belly into 1.5-2″ squares. Toss in about 2T of olive oil, and then season with your favorite pork seasoning. I use the following rub:
1/4 cup brown sugar or Turbinado sugar
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Arrange the seasoned nuggets on a wire rack and smoke at 225 for about 3-4 hours, or until a good bark forms. While they are cooking, you can prepare your BBQ braising sauce. Take 1C of your favorite BBQ sauce and add it to 4T of melted butter and 1/2C honey.
Next, move the burnt ends into a foil pan and coat them with BBQ braising sauce mix. Cover the pan and return to the grill for 90 minutes. Cook until they get to an internal temperature of 205F. Once done, uncover the pan, stir, and leave on the grill another 30 minutes to tighten up the sauce.