The Southern Hog Roast


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.

Some terminology
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.

About Stephen Clay McGehee

Born-Again Christian, Grandfather, husband, business owner, Southerner, aspiring Southern Gentleman. Publisher of The Confederate Colonel and The Southern Agrarian blogs. President/Owner of Adjutant Workshop, Inc., Vice President - Gather The Fragments Bible Mission, Inc. (Sierra Leone, West Africa), Webmaster - Military Order of The Stars and Bars, Kentucky Colonel.
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One Response to The Southern Hog Roast

  1. Jose says:

    MMMMM this article made me hungry and also made go back to a time when i was younger. I was a teen when i went to my first Roast Hog gathering with my family in Puerto Rico. It was an all day affair looking for the right hog, killing and then preparing it for the fire. I remember watching as they prepared the hog and placed on the fire. We all took turns watching the fire making sure to not let the fire go out.

    The hog roasting is usually done during the Christmas holidays so when it happens everyone comes and their is food to eat and alcohol to drink. Even Santa Claus gets a dish! The party does not end until very late in the evening in which by that time everything including the hog has been eaten.

    Its funny how i remember that automatically as i read your article. Hopefully i will get invited to a hog roast down south one day it looks like fun!

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