So I finally did it…… I cooked a whole pig on the Primo! Of course, I had help from my friend, Jim Noggle (seen standing with me at the grill once the pig was inside and cooking). Jim is the one responsible for me deciding to get a ceramic grill in the first place. I ordered the pig from Foresta’s, one of our local markets, and I was hoping for a suckling pig with a maximum weight of 18 to 20 pounds. Instead, what arrived was a 26 pound pig that I was afraid would not fit comfortably in the grill. Well, fortunately the Oval XL is plenty large and the pig was nestled comfortably on the Primo’s cooking grates with room to spare. This cook really emphasized the advantages of having the large oval shape and the flexibility of placing the grates in their lowered position. I chose Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for whole suckling pig, even though he used a conventional oven for the roasting. I figured that the hardwood lump charcoal and the refractory ceramic cook would just improve upon a good thing. Well, it turned out really good, and everyone at the New Year’s party was raving about it, so I’ll consider it a success. However, I will make some adjustments next time I do this. Here’s why.
- I don’t think the brining process is really necessary. I suspect that the meat will be just a succulent without this step, and it may have prevented the skin fron ending up as “crispy” as I would have liked.
- While Emeril calls for basting the pig every hour during the cook, I figured that it would be a mistake to open the grill and cause a temperature change, so I let the cook go uninterrupted for the full 6 and a half hours. This may have contributed to the less than crispy skin. Next time I’ll baste the beast every hour or so.
- I started the cook without the indirect heating shields in place, and discovered that the skin underneath was darker than the skin up top. Once I saw this (about 2 hours in), I added the ceramic plates for indirect cooking and the rest of the cook was more uniform.
In the end, the pig was fantastic, all of the sides that Mary made from scratch were outstanding, and the company was great. What a nice way to ring in the new year.