Giving the pig some TLC

How to roast a pork in a wood fired oven

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How to roast a pork in a wood fired oven

How to roast a pork in a wood fired oven you ask? Well this was my first attempt at roasting a pork in my wood fired pizza oven. I had seen pork cooked in a bakery oven in Cuba previously and I had cooked a few pigs on the spit but never in my pizza oven.

I have to admit, I don’t want to blow my own trumpet but it came out pretty damn good!

I do have a few guidelines that I’d like to share with you, this is based on my personal experience and on articles I read on other websites.

The pig we cooked was a 22.8kg female, she was cleaned (gutted and shaved) with head on. Male pigs above 20kg that have not been castrated have a funny tasting meat (for obvious reasons) so it’s best to aim for females to avoid any problems.

I had to use two pinch bars to pry its mouth open to get the apple in. Another tradition is to put a carrot in the bum. I don’t know why it’s done, but I didn’t eat the apple, nor would I eat a carrot that’s been up a pig’s ass – literally.

I started two fires, one in the oven to bring it up to temperature and one grill-side. I kept the grill-side fire going all day long as I would take hot coals from here and put it in the oven.

The roasting started at 9:00am and finished at 6:00pm. I tried to maintain the temperature of the oven as close to 120 degrees Celsius as possible. Due to the heat dynamics of a dome oven, I didn’t have to turn or flip the pig at all once it was inside. I would take her out every hour or so and baste her some more.

There are two types of bastes I am familiar with and they are quite simple:

Cuban style baste

  • 3 cups of freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 10 crushed cloves of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons of dried, chopped oregano leaves
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder

Serbian style baste

  • 3 cups of beer
  • 3 tablespoons of Dijon mustard

Also, I had to use a sharp knife and make some cuts through its leathery hide along the back. I think my cuts too close together and would probably leave around 1.5 to 2 inches next time.

Make sure you rub plenty of salt into the cuts and on the inside of the pig (as well as your preferred baste).

A 22.8kg pig would probably feed around 40 guests. I still have meat left over.

I have to say that this was a really awesome event. A lot of alcohol flowed and everyone who came really enjoyed the day. The pork’s skin was crispy, the meat was tender and fell off the bone and the Cuban arroz congri was plentiful.

So finally, remember these guidelines on how to roast a pork in a wood fired oven and you’ll be fine.

Guidelines on how to roast a pork in a wood fired oven

  • Maintain the oven temperature as close to 120 degrees Celsius as possible
  • Don’t open the oven door too often
  • Baste the pig with a brush every hour or so
  • Don’t flip the pig upside down or turn it
  • Make sure you rub salt into the cuts that are 1.5 to 2 inches apart in the pig’s back
  • Make sure your oven door keeps the heat inside the oven
  • Use a grill to elevate the pig off the oven floor and place a stainless tray under the pig to catch all the juices and fat.
  • I welded my own grill from square 10mmx10mm steel bar. It weighs around 30kg, plus the weight of the pig (22.8kg) is around 50+ kg’s so it’s quite heavy. You will need a couple of strong guys to lift it
  • When adding coal, use a shovel and spread them around the perimeter of the oven (on the sides of the pig on the oven floor)
  • We tied the pig’s ears together with cooking string so they wouldn’t burn. Some people like to decorate them with Aluminium foil which also works fine
  • An apple in the mouth is for show. A carrot up the bum is for?? Laughs, I guess?!
  • Don’t give your pig a name as you might get attached to it and won’t want to eat it
  • Finally, give your pig plenty of TLC. One serving of beer for the pig, and one for yourself!

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