Every year on January 6 we roast a whole pig for Christmas. This is my husbands families tradition everything from the way it is prepared, to the way it is cooked is based on tradition. I've always been curious as to where all their traditions originated from. Most of the older family members are gone and most you ask these days, don't have much of an explanation, other than it's tradition. So who am I to mess with tradition, so a pig we roast! Or I should say my husband roasts it; this is all his job one I happily let him do. I'm much more of the open a package of meat and roast it type! I even gave him a photo assignment to get me some photos.
He goes with his family and cousins to pick out the pigs two days prior to roasting. Each family gets their own pig to cook. They use a local farmer that also butchers the pig. Make sure your butcher prepares it for rotisserie or you will be doing a whole bunch of sewing. This is Long Ranch in Manteca California. The pigs are stored in oversized coolers on ice until cooking.
You just go in and find one that suits your needs, they are purchased by weight. We have gotten an 80 pounder or so the last few years and that is the perfect amount for us. You only get maybe 40 pounds of actual edible meat when it's all said and done.
My nephews all help with getting the pigs ready for cooking, it's something they look forward to. First the pig gets put on a pole, then he gets seasoned, salt, coarse pepper, garlic powder and pork rub all work good. He gets sewn back up and the legs get tied to a cross brace. Then his nose gets nailed to the pole so he won't slip while turning (I know, ouch!).
The whole pig is wrapped in chicken wire in order to keep it from coming loose during cooking.
Then they are placed on rotisseries and lots of Kingsford charcoal is heated up. Make sure to cook them over low heat or they will burn on the outside and not be cooked on the inside. They will need 10-12 hours to fully cook. Use a meat thermometer and make sure they are 160 degrees internal temperature. (Inserted deep in the thigh or shoulder).
Then the sides and top are covered, this produces an oven effect. All that is left is a whole lotta turning going on.
Invite all your family and friends over, because you will have lots to share. Although don't be surprised when it disappears right before you eyes. There is no way to even compare it to a pork roast you pick up at the market. I know just where to go first, the stringy belly meat that's covered in black pepper, yum! Then I shred a bunch of the meat to use in the tamales I make. We basically have an open house to family and friends. I usually don't have much leftover, but if I do, I just shred the meat and place it in a freezer bag and put it in the freezer for later in the year.
These are two of my nieces who told me, "Auntie we don't eat pigs we only eat unicorns"! Good thing I always have other things to eat.