Stu2 - W7IY

Cooking a Whole Pig - 2006

August 4-5, 2006 at Bill's


Pig 225 to 250 pounds dressed 15 hours cook time, 18-1/2 hours with prep
Chickens 10 cut in half 2 hours cook time
Sausage 12 Hot, 12 Sweet, 5 store-bought 1 hour cook time

The pig man didn't keep his promise to deliver the beast. So Bill, Brian and Craig captured the pig from the pen and delivered it to the processing man at 3:00 on Friday afternoon. Talk about a close one.

Cooking time was skewed because we took the pig off early. At 6:00 AM, we thought the pig was done and after dinking around for 2 hours, we decided to let it continue to cook. (So adjusted cooking time is about 13 hours.)

Pictures are posted on photosite at:

In General:


19:00 - Start cleaning the pig (try not to use water to clean the meat - Craig)
20:00 - On the pit and charcoal lit (used Bill's front end loader!)
20:30 - Added the foil covering
10:30 - Added 20 pounds of lump charcoal
10:35 - mint juleps
02:00 - Flip #1
04:30 - Add 3/4 bag (15 pounds) of lump charcoal
06:00 - Flip #2 - took measurements (Hams=175, Shoulder=188 was it done?)
07:00 - Pulled from fire and hosed coal to cool
08:00 - Pulled 1/4 of pig and decided needed more cooking time
09:00 - Put back on fire (after hour of pulling)
11:30 - Started pulling rest of pig
13:00 - Finished and had 5 pans of meat
13:30 - Lit the pig fat on fire to clean pit
14:30 - Started Chickens on the grill (plan B, use the grill because pit was still burning)
15:00 - Pit was cleaned and moved chicken from grill to pit (good move!)
16:30 - Added Sausage to pit (other side)
16:35 - Chicken was done
17:30 - Sausage was done
18:30 - People started eating

Notes on the Specifics


Started with 40 pounds of Kingsford charcoal and pit stayed around 210F until almost 11:00. Adding the lump charcoal helped, but pit temperature went up to 279F and stabilized. Tried to lift corners of the tin foil to 'dump' the heat, but this caused the coals to flame up. So closed down the pit. We think we need to use less charcoal to get the temperature back down. Don't worry about small temperature swings.

We used 40 pounds of Kingsford charcoal plus 1 and 3/4 bag of lump charcoal (35lbs) for the pig. We used 20 lbs for the chicken and sausage. The total amount was surprising small, seems like we should have used more, but it's the right on. (Perhaps use less to deal with the 279F pit temperature.) Bill got a screaming deal on the charcoal from Home Depot. In case you lost count, that's 75 for the pig and 20 for the rest.95 pounds or 5, 20lbs bags.


The rack worked well! Loved the drill with socket for tightening the clamps. But was hot work over the coals. Should have followed this sequence: pig on rack, tie rack together, move pig, light fire, move pig. Pig's backbone was in-line with the pool/Gazebo. Had to cut off the head so the pig would fit over the pit.

After we were done, we burned the fat from pit and it took about 2 hours, but worked well. Used rake to spread out coals and mix the fat/ash content around. This readied the pit for the chickens.

Next time, consider rotating and flipping pig. One side of the fire seemed slightly hotter. (Side towards drain hole.)


This hog was over 100 pounds larger than the one last year. (225 versus 110) We observed it was about the same thickness. The cooking time was about 2 hours longer, but the fire wasn't very hot during the last two hours and we wasted some time pulling the pig at 7:00.

It might be a good idea to separate part of the pig in the morning to allow the fat to render. Even though the thermometers indicated it was done, it needed more time. Perhaps we should shoot for 190F in the hams.

Bill organized three teams of two people to keep watch over the pit. This was a GREAT idea because it allowed us to get some sleep. (I had 4 hours!) The schedule was:

Team 1: 12:00 - 02:00 (Stu and John)
Team 2: 02:00 - 04:00 (Bob and Paul)
Team 3: 04:00 - 06:00 (Bill and Craig)
Team 1: 06:00 ->
John Grout on camera - which was a real plus.

Everybody stayed up until 2:00. Go figure. After 6:00AM, we didn't need the teams, but it was a good idea to flip the pig at a shift change. (2:00 and 6:00 - we planned the flips for 2:00 and 8:00, but at 6:00 the pig seemed very close to done. Probably a rookie mistake.)


We need to figure out something to do with the head so it looks like we cooked a pig. Last year, we left half of the pig on the fire, which some people appreciated. This year, we pulled the whole pig and you couldn't really tell we cooked a pig. Kind of disappointing - not able to show off the work. Cooking the chickens and sausage helped, but wasn't as impressive as a 225 pound hog.

We prepared two pans of chopped meat, mixed with sauce (1/3 bottle of VA BBQ sauce.) Two pans were left alone. The fifth pan contained the loins, which we wrapped and hid in the refrigerator. I think this was a good mix of presentation styles.

Bring the sharpie pen, it was good to label the food.


Used most of the VA BBQ sauce. VABBQ charged me equivalent of 3 bottles for one big bottle. I think it was about $17. Used about 1/4 to 1/3 of the bottle in each pan of meat.

I made a vinegar SC sauce, which was good, but I don't think a lot of people used it. It was worth the effort, though.

Used three squeeze bottles for the sauce. Not sure if people used much at all. So bottom line - one big bottle of the VA BBQ sauce was enough.


Used paprika, seasoned salt, pepper, sea salt. I really laid it on thick. Two Costco sized containers provide ample rub. The rub worked great on the chicken, too.

Signed: Stu Mitchell, W7IY, August 6, 2006.