Some of my fondest memories, are the Easter vacations I spent in P.R. as a child. The family spent many school breaks on the island, my father’s birth place. My first memory is by far the funniest. I think it was my first visit, first day that I watched a young boy, about my age, run by me with a roasted pig’s tail in his mouth. I’ve had a fascination with “pig roast” from that day on.
So it was with great delight, I greeted my mothers news for her birthday celebration this year. ” I’m going to have a pig roast”, she said…you’re nuts, I thought, but so am I….so,” great idea” I said.
Mom had just recently returned from a Cruise of the Mediterranean and the Holy Land. One of the highlights, was a meal featuring a roast pig at a carving station. Mom the adventurer that she is, thought this would be a great surprise to celebrate her birthday, with a “pig roast”. I don’t really think she fully appreciated what she was getting herself into. It turned out to be a true adventure.
Mom tried a couple of local supermarkets but her swine would not be in time to dine. The little piggies were just not running all the way home…..I can go on, but you get the message, no succulent suckling (I had to get one more in). I did not know it yet, but I would soon have a role to play in this dinner surprise. I was out for a ride, just to get out of the house when mom told me about her adventure. I was thinking of taking a ride out to Orlando, so I said I would checkout Bravo, a supermarket in central Florida that caters to its growing hispanic community, for her. I found a small pig that would work and we “ran all the way home” (I couldn’t resist).
The little 30 lb. pig and I rode back to Titusville, and so the adventure began. When I returned to Mom’s home we both stared at this animal in wounder…now what. It was already concluded that an outside, actual “pig roast”, would be ruled out. It was way too labor intensive, and time-consuming, but getting this “thing” in the oven was also out of the question. Inquiries at “Bravo” had revealed that they could cook it for us, for a fee, but they would have to cut him into pieces. We felt that would defeat the purpose and diminish the fun, and aesthetically not very pleasing. Why not cut it in half and roast him in the oven, side by side? It could stare at us and “moon” us at the same time! As it turned out, “easier-said-than-done”. Mom decided to partially thaw then bi-sect.
I was not there for the halving, but from my parents account it went smoothly. I’ve included some of their photos, on my PHOTOS page ( along with a few others ). It is worth noting in the photos, my parents’ matching aprons. The next step was finding the right recipe, which I’ll include in a future post. The short story is that brining, would be necessary, the long story is that brining such a large animal, is not easy, but was fun. At first we did as the directions suggested, put it in some doubled-up trash bags so that you can pour the brine into the bags, and marinate the pig. We put the pig into the bags (in two) and put him back into the freezer, because we were not ready and it was days too soon. Two days later when we poured the brine into the bags, to our dismay, they had holes in them. So, on to “PLAN B”, line a garbage pail with additional trash bags make more brine and put the whole trash container in the refrigerator. To our surprise that worked! My parents just had to go back a day later and flip the two halves so that it would marinate evenly. It was all starting to come together.
So two days of brining and it was time to get the show on the road. Monday morning my parents and I got together to do the final seasonings and get little “Piggie-Oinker”, as he was now known, into the oven. It turns out; we had to put him into two ovens, in two locations, timing them an hour apart so that they could be monitored and so that we could use the ovens for additional dishes. After some basting and some checking I came home to edit this blog and change into warmer clothes..it was getting quite cold, by Florida’s standards. It was definitely starting to feel a lot like Christmas.
We learned a lot about the work that goes into a “PIG ROAST’, we had a terrific time doing it and the guest were generally impressed, and for those that weren’t, mom had meatloaf. We all had a great night. We did have some of the pig left over, but not much else. It was a great start to the Christmas Season. We laughed, we clowned around, visited with family and friends, we took some photos…really great for a weeknight.