When hiring a hog roast machine you may be thinking what do I do now?
If you hired a machine from us the delivery driver will set everything up ready to go but if you still need assistance this guide will show you exactly how to hog roast a pig.
Below is a list of things you will require to roast a pig:
A full pig
Hog roast machine (GAS propane machine)
Gas bottle (propane)
Wrench (adjustable spanner)
I'm going to explain in detail about pigs and hog roast machines. If you don't need any assistance or help with buying or hiring these items please scroll down to preparing the hog roast.
Buying a pig for roasting
When buying a pig there are a few things to take into consideration
Pig suppliers and what should I ask for?
Option 1. Your local butcher can supply a full pig for you. it would be advisable to give the butcher a weeks notice so he can arrange a full pig to be delivered but this option is the most expensive because it will add to the final cost.
Option 2. Meat wholesalers supply the butchers but will also deliver you or allow you to collect from them. Meat wholesalers buy directly from the slaughter houses keeping the cost at a minimum. Most meat wholesalers will prepare the pig to your requirements.
Option 3. Buying from the farm is also another option this would easily be the most cost effective, however this is not a option for beginners so I would not recommend this option as the pig would still need to be slaughtered and then butchered yourself.
When finally deciding where to buy your pig you need to tell the supplier how you would like it to to be prepared. You should ask for the 10 main ribs on each side to be removed and the 4 baby ribs on each side to remain in tact, this will keep the pig's shape but when it comes to carving the pig the middle will be pure meat making it a lot easier for you to carve.
Ask for the body of the pig to be tied with string this will make it easier for you to carry the pig when required.
The pig will come with a head but you can request it to be taken off .
If you have to pick up the pig yourself remember to line the back of your car with sheeting as the pig will still produce blood and you also don't want the pig to become contaminated.
The most important part of buying a pig is buying the correct size. This will avoid a huge amount of un required pork that you will have to use over the next few days or put in the freezer.
Below is a guide to help you choose the right size pig for your event: 50 Kilo pig - 80 guests
55 Kilo pig - 100 guests
60 Kilo pig - 120 guests
65 Kilo pig - 150 guests
The above list is for serving people in 5" buns / bread rolls / baps
Free range or standard pigs?
I always use free range pigs for two reasons:
1. The majority of our regular customers want the best quality and it's important for them to know the pig's have had a happy existence before we cook them.
2. I have always found free range pigs are around 10% less fatty than a standard pig and I would also like to think the pigs we use have had a nice life before the slaughter house.
Having said all of that I have cooked and tasted free range and standard pigs. If you did a taste test challenge you, me or anyone else would not be able to tell the difference. At the end of the day the choice is yours and whatever you feel is the right decision for you and your guests.
Hog roast machines and cooking options
In the UK the most common machines run on gas (propane) and have a stainless steel body (easy to clean) with a glass window for monitoring the pig during the cooking process. The machine has 4 wheels so you can position it on different surfaces. See the photo below.
This is a modern way of cooking a hog roast, the traditional method includes building a fire pit using charcoal, breeze blocks and a steel mesh. I am a very big fan of this cooking style. My company also offers a charcoal BBQ catering service but this style of cooking is not possible for our hog roast catering service as it is not mobile or practical.
For this how to hog roast guide I am going to recommend using the above gas hog roast machines. You are able to hire hog roast machines from hog roast companies like ourselves which is probably the best thing to do for your fist few roasts. If you do decide your going to hog roast a pig regularly I would suggest buying a hog roast machine for yourself. A new hog roast machine will cost around £2000 to £3000 depending on the extras you buy with the machine.
I'm going to assume you don't have your own hog roast machine so you will need to hire one. To hire a machine costs around £250 per day and this should include: the machine, gas bottle, delivery and collection.
Most hog roast machine suppliers will give you advice when delivering the machine on how to use it correctly but if you print this article you will find full instructions further down.
Preparing the roasting machine
To start put up the table and lay out the equipment to ensure you have everything you need.
Preparing the machine: Bring the hog roast machine over to your work area and position on a flat surface so it will not move.
Take both doors off the hog roast machine and put to one side. You now have a open top machine.
Inside the machine you will find a steel tray this is where the pig eventually will be placed but for now remove the tray and put to one side.
Inside the machine are two gas pipes with an ignition on each pipe. The hog roast machine is basically an oblong oven on wheels.
We now need to place aluminum foil in the machine to keep the inside as clean as possible.
This will make a big difference when it comes to cleaning up the following day.
The foil will also protect the machine's bodywork from turning brown.
Foil the entire bottom of the hog roast machine, the foil should be shiney side down.
Foil both ends of the machine
Foil the inside and outside with double layer of foil
Repeat this on the other side and the machine should look like this when you are finished.
The pig I am using is 55 Kilos. A pig this size is very heavy to lift on your own and it's advisable to have some assistance when moving it.
Place the pig onto the table belly down and front feet apart to support the head.
Using the stanley knife cut off the rope around the back legs, you don't require this as it is
used by meat wholesalers during the transport of the pig.
Using the stanley knife again cut the support strings around the body.
Check inside the pig to ensure the kidneys have been removed and turn the pig back onto it's front.
It's now time to score the pig. Scoring the pig is important for two reasons.
1. By cutting the skin the heat is able to penetrate the meat and bones of the pig ensuring a fully cooked pig. This is where the "cowboy hog roasters" fail. Don't get me wrong you can still cook a pig without scoring the skin but it will take longer to cook and the skin will turn black.
2. One of the best things about a hog roast is the crackling or pork scratching's. If you follow my guide your pig will look golden and the crackling will taste out of this world.
Using the stanley knife score from the top of the shoulder to the bottom of the belly.
Continue to score from one side to the other.
Move down to the middle of the pig and score in a straight line from the top of the body to the the start of the back end.
Again score from one side to the other side of the body all the way around.
Using the stanley knife score the back of the pig in a downward motion.
The back of the pig should look like this.
The end result should look like this.
Preparing To Cook The Pig The pig is now ready to go into the hog roast machine
Lift the pig into the machine and try to keep the pig central
Foiling both the pigs ears is optional but it will protect the ears from burning and is more of a final visual effect than anything else.
You will now need a jug of warm water, cover the entire pig with the water
Next take approximately 5 hand full's of salt to cover the entire pig. Start at the top of the pig and rub the salt over the pig's skin until it is completely covered.
The pig should now be complete and ready for cooking.
Starting The Hog Roast Cooking Process
t is now time to start cooking the pig. This pig is 55 Kilos and will require a cooking time of 7 to 8 hours.
Pig cooking times: 50 Kilo - 6 to 7 hours
55 Kilo - 7 to 8 hours
60 Kilo - 7 to 8 hours
65 Kilo - 8 to 9 hours
70 Kilo - 8 to 9 hours
75 Kilo - 9 to 10 hours
The weather will effect the cooking time. If it's a warm day you should monitor the pig every hour as the pig will cook much quicker
than normal. this also apply's if it's a cold winter day the pig will take longer to cook. It's best to keep the machine undercover and out of the wind to ensure the gas won't get blown out.
Place the doors back onto the machine
Connect the gas bottle, some hog roast machines require a wrench and some are hand tighten. The machine I am using needs a wrench.
Tighten the connection with the wrench
Turn the gas on
At the back of the machine you will find two knobs these control the gas going into the machine. The system is very similar to a normal gas oven.You need to push down on the knob and let the gas come through for around 20 seconds and then turn the knob to the right and it will click. This is the ignition trying to light the gas. You may need to repeat this process a few times depending on how old the machine is.
Once the gas has been lit you will need to repeat this process again on the other side, but the end result should look like this.
This is the final process the hog roast is now cooking and the pig should be ready in 7 to 8 hours.
Monitoring the hog roast
When cooking your first hog roast I would suggest checking the pig every hour, you don't need to open the doors this will let all the heat out of the machine and increase the cooking time by 30 minutes.
Simply look at the pig to make sure it is not burning or the gas has gone out, if the pig is burning you need to reposition the tray more central or turn the gas down, if the gas has gone out take the doors off and relight the burners again.
My pig has been cooking now for 4 hours below are some photos I've taken, I have removed the doors to give you a better look at the pig I would not normally open the doors, I will have to add an extra 30 minutes to the cooking time.
As you can see the pig is now well on it's way and already the crackling is looking amazing, the smell coming from the pig is fantastic.
Just 4 to 5 more hours and this pig will be cooked and ready for carving.
Fully Cooked Pig
The pig has now been cooking for just over eight hours and it should be ready but we need to make sure it is fully cooked, to do this we need a thermometer and a carving knife.
My thermometer can be set to fahrenheit or celsius I have used celsius, we require the temperature to be above 75 celsius.
This pig needs about 30 minutes more cooking time but once we know the temperature is at a safe level I also place the carving knife into the front, middle and back, the carving knife should go into the meat and come out of the meat with out any effort, if the knife sticks at any point I would suggest putting the doors back on the machine and cook for another hour just to be safe.
The pig I have used is fully cooked, below are some photos of the hog roast in all it's glory.
A video of a fully cooked pig using the same hog roast machine
When I carve the hog roast I start at the back taking of the crackling first and work my way to the middle the end result should look like this.
The meat is moist and the smell is truly amazing, the crackling is golden and crisp it is well worth the effort.