Hosting the Perfect Pig Pickin’: Expert Recipes for Whole-Hog Barbecue & Slaw
2nd June 2015
By: Cowboy Charcoal
Photo Courtesy of North Carolina Pork Council
Much like politics, barbecue stirs passionate, absolute, unshakable, on-the-spot opinions from North Carolinians. Folks here argue over:
Whether barbecue is a noun or a verb;
Whether to cook the whole pig or just the shoulder;
Whether to chop it, slice it, shred it, chunk it, or mince it;
Whether to use Eastern-, Western-, or Piedmont-style sauce; and
Whether to cook with gas, wood or charcoal
What all North Carolinians do agree on however is that their state has the best-tasting barbecue on the planet. Of course, the Cowboy Crew jumped at the chance to put this theory to the test.
We asked some of the experts from the Whole Hog Barbecue Series to share their tips for hosting the perfect pig pickin’, whole-hog barbecue, complete with sauces and sides. We found their insights led to some delectable, legit barbecue that certainly did not disappoint.
Pig Pickin’ Yield: 70 servings Ingredients
1 (75- to 100-pound) dressed pig (no head, no feet & split)
1/2 pound salt
60 pounds charcoal briquets, divided
Barbecue sauce (Click here for four great recipes)
Trim and discard any excess fat from the pig, and sprinkle salt inside cavity
Set pig aside
Place 20 pounds of charcoal in pork cooker
Pour 1 quart charcoal lighter fluid over top of charcoal and ignite
Allow to burn until charcoal has turned ash-grey
Place heavy gauge wire, about the size of pig, over pork cooker, 13 inches from coals
Place pig flat, skin side up, on wire surface
Close lid of cooker and cook at 250 degrees for 6 hours, adding additional lighted coals as needed to maintain temperature in cooker
Place a second piece of wire over pig, sandwiching pig between the 2 layers of wire
Turn pig over and remove wire from the top
Insert meat thermometer into thigh, taking care not to touch the bone
Baste meat with barbecue sauce, and pour sauce in rib cavity to measure 1 inch
Close pork cooker lid; cook at 250 degrees for an additional 2 hours, or until meat thermometer registers at least 180 degrees and no pink meat is visible when hams and shoulders are cut
Slice or chop meat or allow guests to pull meat from bones.
Serve with barbecue sauce.
Note: Cooked meat may be stored frozen for up to 3 months
Eastern-Style Slaw Yield: 50 servings Ingredients
6 medium heads cabbage (about 36 cups)
1 1/2 cups green onion
1 1/2 quarts mayonnaise or salad dressing
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup vinegar
2 to 4 tablespoons celery seed
2 tablespoons salt (or to taste)
Finely shred cabbage and slice green onion
In an extra-large bowl, combine cabbage and onion
In a medium bowl, blend mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, celery seed, and salt, mixing well
Drizzle mayonnaise mixture over cabbage mixture in bowl
Toss lightly to mix well
Cover and refrigerate until serving
Piedmont-Style Slaw (Red Slaw)
Using the basic recipe above omitting green onions and celery seed, add approximately ¼ cup catsup, plus enough of the Lexington-style barbecue sauce to taste, mixing well.
For more barbecue sauce and traditional sides recipes, click here.
To learn more about the art, science, history and competition of whole hog barbecue, visit the Whole Hog Barbecue Serieswebsite.