I Love Grilling Meat January 2019

... Cover article continued I normally keep my hog skin-side up for 3–4 hours before turning it to skin-side down. Once you have it skin-side down, get your mop sauce ready to go, and be prepared to cover it with foil. Mop sauce helps keep the meat moist and flavorful. Just like the seasoning, you only want to mop the meat, not the skin. After this initial mop, immediately after flipping the hog, I cover the top of the pig with foil to help hold the moisture in the cavity. Just lay the foil over your chicken-wire cage and lightly tuck the ends under the bottom of the cage on all sides. This foil method will help keep the moisture in the cavity. As the moisture from the hog evaporates, it will build up on the foil and then drop back down into your cavity and onto your meat. From there, you’ll want to remove the foil to mop every 1 1/2 hours until your internal temps are met in the hams and shoulders.

As the skin continues to cook and harden while skin-side down, it will help keep that moisture in, and you’ll notice juices pooling in the cavity of the pig. That’s pure flavor. The total cook time will vary depending on the size of the pig. With a butterflied 65-pounder, I’d expect it to stay in the smoker for about 6–7 hours. As for the temperature of the smoker, you’ll want it set at about 225 degrees Fahrenheit for the first half, then 285 F to finish it out. You’ll know it’s getting close to done when you tap the skin with a spoon and hear a hollow sound. Of course, don’t forget to have a high-quality meat thermometer handy. You’re looking for an internal temp of 165 F. Find a thick piece of ham in the rear, and stick your thermometer there. Be sure to avoid contacting any bone, which can throw your temperature reading off. Once your pig hits 165 F, you can lower the temp of your cooker to finish off with a smoke. Now, when it comes to wood for smoking, I tend to go with oak and apple or oak and peach, but you can go with hickory. I know they do mesquite wood in Texas. You want something that’s a good, hot- burning wood that’ll burn long, as well. Maple, for instance, tends to burn hot and fast, so you can go with maple, but you’re going to go through a lot of it. That’s why I use oak, because it’s a hot-burning wood that burns long. What I like to do is burn the oak down to coals in a separate firebox outside of my hog smoker, and then I scoop those coals into trays in my smoker. I’ll put a few sticks of apple on top of those coals — just enough to avoid a flare-up. By using oak coals, you get rid of the oaky flavor that people tend to find bitter while keeping the good heat and flavor that comes with burning oak. You also want to pay special attention to where you position your coals or wood. You want more fuel under the hindquarters than under the front of the pig. For example, I might start out with 5 gallons of oak coals near the hindquarters end of the hog and 2 1/2 gallons under the front. You can put some coals in the middle, but be careful, as you can easily dry out the middle where the meat is the thinnest — especially if you butterflied your pig and removed the ribs. If you’re cooking on an offset smoker, then be sure to place the

rear-end of your hog toward your firebox. Again, having your mop sauce handy at all times can help balance things out.

After your pig is done and out of the smoker, let it set for about 20–30 minutes. You want the meat hot but not too hot! Get in there with your hands, and pull the tender meat way from the bones. The skin should pull away, too, and act like a bowl as you pull the meat way. Then, add more mop sauce or your favorite barbecue sauce and enjoy — you earned it! Dan ’ s Mop Sauce

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1 gallon white distilled vinegar

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup hot sauce (Louisiana hot sauce)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cupWorcestershire sauce 5 tablespoons crushed red pepper

3 tablespoons black pepper 2 tablespoons celery seeds 3 tablespoons minced garlic

1 cup water

Combine, heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool then apply to meat. Dan ’ s Whole Hog Rub

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1/4 cup kosher salt 1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup paprika

1/4 cup onion powder 1/4 cup chili powder

2 tablespoons ground cumin 2 tablespoons dried basil 2 tablespoons parsley flakes

–Danny McTurnan




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