Our neighbors recently finished the construction of their “community center” as they call it. The building is set up for gardening, woodworking and a nice TV lounge area. To celebrate the opening, they threw a wing ding of a “Pig Pickin” party complete with bluegrass music and an oyster roast. Next post will be the band and oyster roast!
For those readers not familiar with “pig pickin'” events, here’s what wikipedia has to say about it:
A pig, often around 80–120 pounds dressed weight, is split in half and spread onto a large charcoal or propane grill. Some practitioners use a separate stove filled with hardwood to produce coals which are then transferred under the charcoal grill by shovel; others use charcoal with chunks of either blackjack oak, hickory wood or some other hardwood added for flavor. The style of these grills are as varied as the methods of producing them, some being homemade while others are custom made.
There is a long-running debate among barbecue enthusiasts over the merits different fuels. Propane is said to maintain a consistent temperature, whereas charcoal or charwood are often touted as producing better-tasting meat.
The cooking process is communal and usually done by an authority figure; the host is helped by friends or family. It usually takes four to eight hours to cook the pig completely;the pig is often started “meat-side” down, and then is flipped one time once the hog has stopped dripping rendered fat. Some practitioners clean ashes from the skin with paper towels or a small whisk broom before flipping the hog to help produce high quality cracklings from the skin.
Often the hog is basted while cooking, though the method and sauce used differs according to region. For instance a typical South Carolina Piedmont area baste would be a mustard based sauce, an Eastern North Carolina baste is usually a very light vinegar based sauce with red pepper flakes, and Western North Carolina barbecue uses sauce with a ketchup base similar to traditional barbecue sauce.
When the cooking is complete, the meat should ideally be tender to the point of falling off of the bone. The meat is then either chopped or pulled into traditional Carolina-style pork barbecue or it is picked off the hog itself by the guests. It is from the latter that the gathering gains its name.