Whole Hog BBQ – Tools of the Trade II

Rammstein is a metal band based in Germany and one of my favorite forms of musical entertainment. I like them for their tongue-in-cheek lyrics, storyline rich music videos, heavy jams and their insane feats of pyrotechnics. It is further proof that adding a flamethrower to any situation makes it all that much cooler. I’m confident that if the US Federal government would mandate the use of flame throwers in our children’s math classes, we’re probably have the highest math scores in the world – we’d also need to hold math classes outdoors which wouldn’t be too bad of an idea.

The very first time I ever smoked a pig, I had a secret weapon. I found a massive bottle of Zippo lighter fluid which, due to its utility, has very little in terms of scent. People don’t like smoking anything that tastes like gasoline. I was a GENIUS! I had all the power of lighter fluid with none of the smell!! Well turns out I was an absolute MORON as we hosed down over 80lbs of charcoal with Zippo fluid, had a big poofy fire which lasted as long as a jelly donut at fat kids camp.

So we gave in and rushed to the deli for a jug of regular charcoal lighter fluid. Lighter fluid isn’t necessary a bad thing. I know it’s BBQ orthodoxy to hate on it, but plenty of the top cookers in the world use it to start their coal. I guarantee if I had you taste their food you wouldn’t taste the fluid. Plus I like the smell of burning lighter fluid on a small scale – reminds me of childhood summers (along with burnt chicken).

But burning that much coal with that much lighter fluid is not pleasant at all. Someone suggested one time I use chimney starters. Have you ever had to start 80lbs of charcoal with chimney starters? We’d probably spend the next 3 hours just lighting coal!

So in comes the solution – a baby FLAMETHROWER!!

More specifically it’s a Lincoln Electric Inferno Propane Torch.

Like everything with whole hog BBQ it’s a great crowd pleaser. The most popular photos people take are

#1 Them standing in front of my smoker

#2 Them holding a pig’s head

#3 Them shooting flames out of my baby flamethrower.

In the annuals of badassness, this tool ranks pretty high up there. When fired up it shoots out a jet stream of fire and will get your coal lit in almost no time. It’s actually kinda disappointing sometimes how effective it is as I’d love to just burn some more stuff. It even sounds like a jet! Make no mistake, it’s loud. The first time I had my buddy work it, he darn near wet himself. And my buddy’s a tough guy! Tatted up, big muscles, bald head – scary. I swear when that fire busted out he was ready run home to his mommy. You’ve been warned.

Whole Hog BBQ – Tools of the Trade I

I guess if there was one definite difference between North Carolina BBQ and our cousins in Texas and Kansas city, it’s our tools.

When I used to cook fancier cuisine, your tools would come from pricey culinary outfitters or restaurant supply shops. My straight carbon steel knives were forged in France and German. We used a mess of different tools from Japan to make plants look like little footballs, chocolate look like snowmen, etc. I even have a pair of scissors whose sole job is to snip the top off a quail egg – to garnish a jewel-like plate of tuna tartar of course.

The funniest part of the Carolina tool kit is that most of it comes from hardware stores! So I’ll be writing a series of various different tools you can pick up for whole hog cooking.

THIS is no good

The most intimidating thing about cooking a whole hog is getting it prepped for cooking. Even the smallest pig I have ever cooked is larger than most people’s ovens. Even highly  trained French chefs have difficulty handling the entire animal as my highly talented friends will attest

To prep a whole hog for smoking you need to get the back split, the collar bone removed, and the breast bone cut off. Now this will be a completely separate post where I’ll explain how to do that. You essentially want your pig looking like this

CAM01027-2

 

As you can see the top half is cleanly split, the collar covering the shoulders are removed and there’s no breastbone. After this we split the lower half a little just flatten the hog out.

Now the tool of choice here is the reciprocating saw. I use a Sawzall which is made by Milwaukee Tools. If you never seen a bunch of grown men try and split the hog’s backbone without the saw, you’re in for all manner of funny. The use of the tool was taught to me by some good ole southern folks down in Georgia and it has made my life INFINITY better.

A pig is a powerful animal. It has lots of predators out there looking to eat it and it’s hell bent on not becoming chow. Hence the tusks and tightly compact body. So if you’re looking to butcher a hog for BBQ, it would be worth your while to stop by the local Lowes or Home Depot. Trust me, nothing will get your more frustrated than trying to split bone.

It’s also great in removing the forearms and feet as well. Again if you’re really into seeing a hilariously macabre show, give a 240lb strong dude a cleaver and ask him to chop off the feet. You’d be surprise how little strength will help you here. Those tendons and sinew do their job really well. There is indeed a trick to cutting all 4 of them off in less than 3 mins but it requires a lot of practice. Unless you’re looking to cook as many pigs as I do, it’s not likely you’ll get too much practice – stick with the saw.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about shovels.