We un-iced "Babe"...that's what Wayne named it and since he was the guest of honor at the party, it was his to name. We jabbed creole butter into as many nooks and crannies as we could. Then the I pulled back as much of the ham and shoulder skin as I felt comfortable doing and we liberally applied salt, pepper and rub all over Babe. Whole process really didn't take all that long
By the time all was said and done, it was a little after i 1am, and Babe made the leap of faith into the Kingfisher "Pigger" to undergo a transformation. Tossed on a couple pork butts as well, and in the morning, a couple turkey breasts went on too. For about the next 1.5 hours, we watched the cooker try to stabilize temperatures...but after some minimal fiddling w/ vents and burners we got an even 275° across the cooking surface.
Went to bed too late, thought I'd drink more adult beverage than I really did. The maiden voyage with a new cooker is always fun. The unknowns are fun to adapt to, surprises keep it fresh.
Woke up at 6am...not enough sleep. Boy is awake, and the dog is begging to get up. Try fighting it, no use. Tylenol, coffee, and pop-tarts stir Joey and Wayne back into action.
Finally peeked at Babe, and was a different pig. Must have been a little steamed because Babe had smoke billowing from its ears and through its nostrils. Bet I took 25 pictures trying to capture that that...nope, sorry about that.
Weather had changed, was sunny, very cool, and gale force winds. Didn't really put it together until we tried putting up the 20x20 canopy...HA! We improvised and moved to a different spot where it was sheltered from the wind a little. All the while, Babe was just laying around and smoking.
At about noon, Babe was just being kept warm...and by 3:30p, the guests were ready for the pig so my brother in law and I hauled him out and on to the table he went. The crowd gathered and interest level hit its peak. I was fascinated by the reaction of people. Some gawk, some cast knowing smiles...glimpses into their memory of the last pig roast, all mouths were open, either from hunger or from being appalled that they were actually going to eat an animal!!!
Having only done one other pig in my life, at this point I wasn't sure what would happen. I just acted like I knew what I was doing. Lifted the face up and the skin just pulled off in one big piece leaving behind some of the tenderest, nicest looking hunks of pork shoulder I've seen in a long time. At this point in time, folks just filed in, everyone looking for a hunk of meat. Was fine with us. Spent the next hour or so picking all these morsel off the pig, saving those special tid-bits for the cook and his assistant.
I've said many time that biggest allure of BBQ is its inherent ability to capture the essence of communal sharing, sharing of food, drink, good time, great memories, reminiscing with old friends, making new ones...putting some happiness in our bellies. The food is an important piece of this great time puzzle, but without the other pieces, its just another meal. And BBQ is never "just another meal". Least it shouldn't be!
My team partner had a great day on Saturday. My Father-in-Law had a great day on Saturday. But so did a lot of other folks including me. And you know its a good pig roast when the pig finds its way onto someone's head.
I used to wonder, why bother with the whole pig thing when pork shoulders and loins are so easy to cook and are so darn tasty. But the difference is the reaction of the people. Staring a carcass in the eye, knowing your about to devour elicits very interesting responses from people. From "Gimmie some piggy" to "I just have to turn and look the other way...don't want to think about it", those responses brought people closer for that afternoon. Great event.
The next day we had left over hog, only about 1.5 half pans though. Some of the family was stopping by the house for breakfast. What to make...hog hash of course, with scrambled eggs and beans. We were able to extend this precious family time a little longer.
Looking back, everything was a lot of work but the memories forged on May 16th, 2009 are there to stay. For me it was looking at my son's face when he first saw that pig's tongue. His squeamish delight at that sight was precious.
Plans are underway for the 1st anniversary of Wayne's retirement!