Subscriber “UK Fred” sent a link to a BBC radio program about Southern food – specifically about the Southern Hog Roast. You can listen to it here – the section on the hog roast is from 16:35 to 20:50. This reminded me of a hog roast that was held at our church on New Year’s Eve last year.
The fire pit was built from concrete blocks stacked up. There were no specific plans – we just stacked blocks until it looked about right. The hog was split down the middle and laid out on a metal rack built for the purpose. A section of light weight field fence was placed on top of the hog and fastened with twisted wire to hold it in place.
I don’t recall how long the entire process took, but it was pretty much an all-day affair. A group of us took turns watching the fire, adding wood as needed, raising or lowering the hog depending on the heat, and adding sauce using a mop and a bucket. When more heat was needed, we would also place a section of corrugated metal roofing over the top of the hog to help hold the heat in. While the meal itself is often viewed as the highlight of a hog roast, the fellowship involved in the all-day cooking is where the real Southern tradition lies. A hog roast – like most outdoor grilling, is strictly a man’s world. While the ladies prepare the side dishes and make sure that everything else goes smoothly, the men stand around by the fire while discussing the best way to roast a hog and other matters of great importance.
Later that evening, when the “senior hog roaster” decided that it was ready, it was taken off the fire, cut up, and placed in metal serving trays. Between the church folks and the crew from the county fire station next to the church, we came pretty close to finishing the entire hog.
The Southern hog roast is one of the great traditions of Southern culture. If you are ever invited to one, don’t pass up the opportunity – and be sure to take a turn at the roasting pit.
Hog – a swine weighing over 120 pounds.
Pig – a very young swine.
Butcher Hog or Market Hog – a swine weighing from 220 to 260 pounds, usually 5 to 7 months of age.
Barrow – a castrated male swine that is the basis of the pork industry. In case you’re wondering, uncastrated male swine (boars) have an unpleasant taste (known as “boar taint”), they gain weight more slowly, and are more difficult to handle.
Feeder pig – a young swine usually between 40 to 70 pounds, produced by one farmer and sold to another farmer to feed out to market.