Last Wednesday’s New York Times food section featured a pig roast. What a coinkidink. Good friend and wine distributor Chuck Andreae and I were scheduled to host one Saturday night. Our pig was a mere 50 pounds compared with the 200-pounder they tackled. Still, we had our hands full.
Chuck and I have been doing elaborate multi-course food and wine benefit dinners for years now. Suffering from mild burnout I suggested we take a pass this year. Instead, Chuck offered to host a casual pig roast with wife, Anne. Their son Mark, skilled at pig roasting, would handle the main course. I was in charge of the rest.
We were on track with our little soiree until Friday morning when I get a call from Chuck. Horrific news. While teaching a summer boating class, younger son Will had fallen from the boat and was hit by the propeller. He was going to be OK. Chuck said they could still roast the pig. They just couldn’t host.
New party venue: our house. With temperatures pushing 100, we vote to party indoors.
Meanwhile Anne (given Will’s accident, I don’t know how she did it) marinated the butterflied pig in a citrusy Filipino concoction adapted from the Barbecue Bible while Chuck and Mark built an above-ground cinderblock pit.
Before placing the pig on a makeshift rebar rack, Anne poked holes in the pig’s membrane (to prevent water retention during cooking), and rubbed it with a salt, brown sugar, paprika, peppercorns, coriander, cumin, mustard, fennel, and chili blend.
Building charcoal fires at the pit’s four corners, they roasted the pig, belly down loosely covered with foil over indirect heat, for the better part of eight hours, adding charcoal as needed to maintain 250 and 300 degrees. Near the end of cooking, they placed a second rebar rack over the pig and flipped it to brown and crisp up the skin, foil covering the pig’s outer extremities as they started to darken,
Meanwhile twenty guests arrived, pleased the party had moved inside. We serve Prosecco with aged cheddar pimento cheese, black and white bean caviar (a riff on the Texas variety), and pickled shrimp.
Just as we’re dishing up coffee cups and saucers of gazpacho with crisp corn sticks, Anne and Chuck arrive with the pig on a foil-covered board. It’s sheer perfection—rich, flavorful, tender meat and crisp skin. They hack it up and arrange it on platters that we serve with classic fixin’s. After refreshing their palates with minted watermelon sorbet, we bring out the grand finale: goblets of banana pudding.
As everyone left, we were grateful for many things: mainly that Will was OK. We were all thankful for the gift of a perfect pig, and for AC too. Oh, and that this pig roast was in the past!