Whole Pig Roast
- 4 1/3 cups salt
- 2½ cups sugar
- 5 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 5 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon allspice berries
- 1½ teaspoons juniper berries
- 20 bay leaves
- 20 sprigs fresh thyme
- 20 garlic cloves, crushed
- For the pig:
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 10 cloves crushed garlic
- Thyme, rosemary, tarragon
- Olive oil for basting
What to Do:
To make brine, combine salt, sugar and 1 gallon of water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Stir until salt and sugar have dissolved. Let cool.
Place coriander, peppercorns, allspice, juniper and bay leaves in a zip-top plastic bag and smash them with a heavy object. Combine all brine ingredients, plus another 4¼ gallons of cold water, in a big pot.
Onto the pig. Remove any stray hairs (a disposable razor works well); wash the pig and contort it into a clean camping cooler or other clean, large container (you’ll probably have to bend the hind legs). Pour enough cold brine over pig to cover. Leave for 24 to 48 hours, adding ice to keep cold.
The day of your roast, remove pig from brine 90 minutes before you plan to start cooking. Dry the pig inside and out with clean paper towels. Season pig cavity aggressively with salt and pepper, rubbing in as you go. Add a few good handfuls of herbs and the garlic to the cavity.
Thread the spit through the pig’s mouth and out the other end, and fasten securely per manufacturer’s instructions. Close the belly cavity using wooden skewers that have been soaked in water. Using pliers and stainless steel wire, tie the rear legs snugly under the body, and then secure the forelegs forward, near the snout. Pull wire as tight as possible.
Prepare your fire. You should have at least 60 pounds of lump charcoal or a stack of hardwood on hand, adding slowly as you go. You should be able to hold your hand at spit level for ten seconds—any hotter and the skin will char before the meat’s cooked.
Poke pig all over, just deep enough to penetrate the skin, using a sharp paring knife. Season aggressively with salt and pepper. Wrap aluminum foil around ears, tail and feet to keep them from cooking too quickly.
Place spit over the fire. If you’ve got a motorized spit, all you need to do is baste the pig every 30 minutes or so with olive oil and manage the coals. If it’s a manual spit, turn pig every three to five minutes to cook evenly. Remove the foil after a couple hours.
Your pig should take between four and eight hours, depending on heat of your coals and wind.
Test for doneness by sticking an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of a rear haunch. 140 degrees is ideal if you like your pork medium-well and juicy. Snip away steel wire, pull out spit and rest the pig in a warm place for 30 minutes if you can stand it.
For additional tips and roasting advice, please see: The Pig Event – WSJ.com.