WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOGRAPHS THROUGHOUT THIS POST.
It was a beautiful, clear December day in Rockledge, Florida, near Cocoa Beach, on the day of Heather and Jorge's pig roast! Roasting a pig is a latino tradition at Christmas and New Years. We enjoyed ours just before Christmas at the lovely home of TLMM's cousins Jackie and Glenn. Their son-in-law, Jorge, is an expert pig roaster, and the cooked pig that he made was easily the most delicious pork I have ever tasted in all of my years on this earth.
Jorge ordered the 75 pound pig from Publix, and they ordered it from Sysco. It would yield approximately 30 pounds of meat, which would feed 70 people. He started by simmering the ingredients he would use to inject into the meat. Saute a head of cleaned garlic in 3/4 a cup of olive oil. Add a few sliced onions. Let it simmer for 10 minutes and add 1/2 a bottle of Mojo Seasoning. Using a hand blender, blend the ingredients, and put the resulting sauce in an injector. Inject generously in several places into the meat of the pig.
Jorge uses a Caja China- readily available in South Florida. It is designed perfectly to transfer the heat from the charcoal which will be on top of the cooker to the inside for slow, even cooking. We had 70 pounds of charcoal but had 2 bags left. Better to have too many bags than too few.
Cover drip pan with aluminum foil.
Pig. Jorge attached it to the rack before he injected the mojo into it.
Place pig in cooker.
It's a dirty job.
Jorge placed the charcoal around the perimeter of the grate to start- because the thickest meat of the pig is concentrated on the outer part of the cooker. Light charcoal.
As the charcoal heats and begins to break down, add more. Let the pig stay in the cooker undisturbed for three hours for a 70 pound pig.
After three hours, open the cooker and enlist a lovely assistant to flip the pig. Jorge's assistant that day was JAM, by brother-in-law.
Remove the charcoal grate and put it on a non flammable surface. Remove the pig and put it on a clean surface.
This is what happens when you put a grate full of hot charcoal on the grass. Homeowner might not be happy. Give him a beer or a glass of wine- it eases the loss.
Flip pig, put it back in the cooker and then cover with charcoal grate. Load up with more charcoal and this time fill the center of the grate with coals too- keep the heat coming.
An hour before you want the pig to be cooked, load up the center with coals for an extra blast of heat. This will ensure a very crispy outer skin, and worked like a charm.
Time for the unveiling.
Oh yeah, baby.
Place the pig on a clean surface. Pull off pieces of the pig's ear and crispy skin for the onlookers. C'mon, have some. The first time that flavorful, crispy meat touches your lips, you will get over the gruesome scene. Well, at least I did.
Since you have bought a few large aluminum containers, cut the meat out of the pig and place chunks and pieces in the container. The feast begins the minute it is carried to the table. Our feast consisted of the pig, rice and red beans, salad and rolls. Glenn and Jorge made Usinger's sausage during the day- several varieties (from mild to spicy) ordered from the famous Milwaukee outfit. Glenn first parboiled them with beer and then put them on the grill. Sliced and placed on the buffet table, they were warm and wonderful and helped curb our hunger as we waited for the main event.
Hanging out with Chef Jorge and taking notes and photos was great fun. I also ended up with a chunk of the chef's treat on my plate. A piece of meat from above the rib. There are no words to describe the simple yet complex taste and soft warm texture of the meat. It was unbelievably good. It was heaven.
Since my food journey started with a bite of ham at age 11, it is only appropriate that my blog should end with this post. A flawless Florida day surrounded by family, simply wonderful food, good rum and much good cheer.
Thank you for reading- now go make your own food memories...and the eggs.