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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Cooking Whole Hogs in an Underground Pit

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The method of cooking meat in an underground pit has been around for years. The meat turns out so tender and juicy with just a small amount of effort. There is no need to tend the fire, turn the food, add wood or coals. The underground pit does all of the work.

You can use this method to cook anything from whole hogs, venison quarters, turkeys, briskets, to pots of beans. You can even do them all at once. You just need a hole in the ground large enough to hold them.

When doing a large hog, (this one was over 200lbs)...I start burning the wood at about 7 PM and try to get the hog in the ground by 10PM.
After the hog is buried, there is nothing left to do until morning. About 10 AM check the meat.

Smaller hogs take anywhere from 8 to 12 hours.

You need to burn enough wood to make a 6 to 8 inch bed of hot coals, even 10 inches is good for a large hog. This usually takes 2 to 3 hours. (It's a party in itself!)

After you have a nice thick bed of hot coals, place a sheet of tin on top......the seasoned and wrapped meat goes on the sheet of tin.

A word about not used galvanized. If you HAVE to use galvanized, burn it with a blow torch or on a fire before using.
Same with chicken wire, some folks say that the heat is not high enough to give off harmful fumes, but you can burn the tin and wire with a blow torch to play it safe.

Also, hang onto your tin for the next cookout, you can use it over and over.

The old timers used wet burlap to wrap meat. It's getting harder to find around here, so I use foil.
I like to season the meat with my favorite dry rub, also I like to place apples, onions and brown sugar in the cavity of the adds so much flavor. You can add anything you like.

After the meat is seasoned, wrap it in wet burlap OR foil, also use a small amount of chicken wire. The wire helps hold the tender meat on the bone and also helps when it's time to remove the hog from the pit.

A large sheet of tin is placed over the hot coals, the wrapped hog is placed on top of tin.
Another sheet of tin is placed over top..........then buried with dirt. Cover the whole sheet of tin with dirt.
Make sure the edges of the tin are sealed with dirt, if you see any smoke coming out from the edges of the tin, put more dirt on it. You want an air tight seal.
This makes sort of an underground oven.

Let this cook overnight for large hogs, at least 8 to 12 hours for small ones.

The finished pork is fall apart tender. You can place the whole hog on a table and let people serve themselves, or pile the meat on a tray with sauces on the side.

Any leftover pork freezes well.......makes great sandwiches, tamales, enchiladas, etc..