How to spit roast a hog (or lamb, goat or venison) with our Authentic Charcoal / Wood fired Spit Roasting Machine available for hire
Please read our full guide BEFORE starting or unpacking!
Our stainless steel machine flatpacks with just six thumbscrews for easy transport in the back of most cars. To assemble: Place the legs against the ends of the body ensuring the side marked 'this side inside' is against the body of the machine and screw the thumbscrews in place by hand only. The fire pan is laid on it's supports inside the main body. The optional extra bbq grills sit on top for barbequing sausages, burgers, fish, chops, steaks after the hog has finished roasting. The motor slides onto either support, and the spit feeds into the opposite leg and then slots onto the motor. Before you put your hog on the machine place the spit in place to ensure you understand how it will go into position as when holding the weight of a hog over a hot fire it's not the best time to be figuring out how this goes.
We use restaurant grade charcoal which burns hotter and for longer than standard charcoal. A 12kg sack will fill the tray. For a small pig one sack will be plenty. Two or three sacks may be required for larger hogs. You can also use wood with this machine. Do not however use coal!
We can supply restaurant grade charcoal and can deliver however many sacks you need along with firelighters with your hire machine and hog if required. Avoid using cheap charcoal.
Pick a sheltered corner out of the wind. Also consider the rain - the machine will need shelter should it rain, especially the electric motor which for safety must not get wet.
Pile the charcoal in the middle of the tray and either arrange some firelighters or cover with firelighting fluid. With a long safety match or long gas light carefully light the firelighters and arrange the charcoal over them, or light the fluid.
The charcoal will take awhile to get going so it's now time to prepare the hog.
Mounting the hog:
(We can mount, sew the belly and score the crackling for you if required)
You need a firm surface to work on. Here we are preparing a 16kg hog which will be plenty for a gathering of around 30 people.
The standard spit motor is rated to turn a 40kg balanced pig (larger motors are available). Check the weight of the pig (bathroom scales are easiest, weigh yourself, then weigh yourself holding the pig - the difference between the two weights is the weight of your hog). You can reduce the weight of your hog by cutting off the head and neck (this also has the benefit that it allows the heat to better get into the shoulder cooking it thoroughly down to the centre. You can also shorten the legs bearing in mind the back legs need to be long enough to be held by the leg brace.
Mounting the hog properly is really important so that it is both secure and balanced. The spit should be able to spin freely on the machine, not be 'top heavy' which would put a large load on the motor that is it not designed for as it turns the pig raising the unbalanced load to the top before it 'drops' over the centre of balance and makes the motor race on the way down.
Insert the spit through the hog (or lamb, goat, venison). The spikes go into the head end inserted into the shoulder. The leg brace goes onto the tail end.
The back brace holds the hog to the spit to prevent it flopping about during cooking and should be inserted before stuffing and sewing the belly.
Do not overtighten any thumbscrews as this will strip the thread. It is not normally possible to overtighten by hand.
The cavity can then be stuffed if required, this can help the balance of the pig. The belly should then be sown up with butchers string to prevent it flopping about as the beast turns. Simply make a hole in each side with a sharp knife and tie the two sides together.
You can also use butchers string to firmly tie the hog to the spit.
Whether the spit goes through the mouth or under depends on the pig and balance.
Score the belly and back every 1/4 to 1/2 inch (5 to 10mm) to allow the heat to get into the skin for awesome crackling. You can rub in salt or rubs but we never do, our crackling always comes out great and because of the quality and rearing of the pigs we use, the crackling and pork always taste great without the need to 'add' flavour.
A stanley knife is easiest for this as the depth of the blade can be set to about a 1/4 inch to prevent going too deep. Do not cut all the way across the back, leave an inch or two unscored across the backbone and work down each side towards the belly.
You can also do crisscross patterns if you wish.
Lets start roasting:
Once the flames have died down and the charcoal is white you are ready to start roasting. Spread the charcoal out across the full length of the tray/pig (for smaller pigs there's no point having coals at the ends where there is no pig over the coals).
The machine has a rest for the spit at the very top of the support legs. This is to place the hog on not for cooking! You can initially rest your hog here and ensure that it is balanced and rotates fully without fouling on the machine. Be aware that during cooking the pig will stretch/flex and legs may move to different positions - be aware of this as it may foul the machine as it turns putting undue stress on the motor.
Use thick oven gloves when handling the spit. The heat from the charcoal will be immense and gets unbearable very quickly. It is easiest to have one person at either end. Slide the motor onto one leg so that it rests on one of the supports. The legs have three cooking positions. We find the middle or top are the best, the lowest is too low and the pig will burn. Then insert the pointed end of the spit through the opposite leg on the corresponding cooking position, and line up the other end with the motor/lug and slot onto the motor and sit it on the rest. You are now ready to switch on the motor.
The motor should turn the pig continuously. Do not turn it on and off.
During the roasting process the pig will 'shrink' - keep an eye on the leg braces and spike - you may need to stop the motor, slacken the brace, push the pig firmly back onto the spike and the leg brace against the hog and re tighten. It is important that the pig is tight and turns with the spit and doesn't flop around.
With hogroasting improvisation is sometimes needed.
The machine is on wheels but do not move it with coals or a pig, especially when it is hot. The wheels are only really designed for smooth surfaces so you are best to carry the machine to where you want to use it and then add the charcoal and hog.
During the roasting process you will need to feed the fire with additional coals. Do not wait until the fire has almost died! The newly added coals will take time to get going before they are giving out heat efficiently, so keep feeding them in from the edges. Do not dump a quantity of coals over the fire as this will shield the hog from the heat and slow down your cooking.
As the pig turns it will self baste in it's own juices. Some of these will drop onto the coals but the flames are usually low and not a problem.
Do not be tempted to cook the pig too low. Your pig may not sound like it's sizzling away when it's cooking nicely, but get it too close to the heat and it will blacken very quickly.
Once your hog is cooked through (check that it's up to temperature internally with a meat thermometer - we aim to achieve 76°C in the depths of the shoulder - pink pork is fine as long as it has reached the proper temperature), take the hog off the heat and place on a tray or table to rest and relax, just like a Sunday joint. It will need about 30 minutes. This also allows the hog to cool before carving.
This is the perfect opportunity to put on the machine the optional barbeque grills (optional hire extra) and use the heat from the coals to bbq fish, kebabs, sausages, burgers, steak, chops etc. Do not bbq whilst roasting the hog as a) you will be shielding the pig from the heat and b) the grills restrict access to be able to tend the fire during the cooking process.
Once your hog has rested, take off the crackling. We cut it into strips 2-3 inches wide along the length of the pig which with the scoring done prior to cooking allows to to break into bite sized pieces for easy serving or self service.
By the time you've read this far no doubt your taste buds are craving for crispy crackling and juicy succulent pork!
It's now time to carve/pull off the pork. From the shoulders and legs you will be able to carve. From the ribs and around bones you will have pulled pork. You can carve and serve straight into bread baps/rolls/buns/batches/pitas or onto plates to be served with sides, or carve in one go ready to either serve or self service.
The chef always gets the perks from the very first taste of awesome crackling, to sampling the tenderloin which is one of the last cuts accessible during the carving.
Bramley Apple Sauce, Sage & Onion Stuffing and onions are traditional accompaniments but all variety of sides can be added when serving on plates.
When your hog arrives:
If you are local (within about 40 miles) then your hog will arrive fresh. Further afield we may deliver but for hogs <30kg we may well use a courier. If we've used a courier then the hog will be shipped frozen so it reaches you in tip-top condition. Delivery will therefore be the day before its needed to allow you time to defrost fully. As soon as you receive the hog, remove the packaging to allow the air to get at it to ensure it defrosts. It will take 12-24hrs to defrost thoroughly. Cool airflow into the cavity speeds up the process, as does a cold water bath.
Unpacking the machine:
If you are local then the machine will not likely be packaged. However if you receive the machine packaged then it is likely you will need to reuse the packaging to return the machine on the next working day. Please open carefully and keep the packaging in a safe dry place. Boxes are best opened at the end and slide the machine out. Or cut along the corner as it is easier to reseal in this location that a slit straight down the middle.
Cleaning the machine:
There is no need to clean the machine, we will happily do this for a small charge deducted from your deposit. No charge is made when the machine is returned in the condition it was supplied.
When you have finished with the machine it should be allowed to cool. Do not allow the machine to get wet. You are responsible for the machine whilst it is in your care. This machine has a typical replacement value of <£500 and may not be covered on your contents insurance, and is certainly unlikely to be covered if it is not secured. Empty the ashpan. Remove the remains of the carcass from the spit. The spit can be wiped down with a cloth and warm soapy water, as can the grills (if hired) and the stainless machine. Do not use abrasive cleaners or pads. Do not use a pressure washer. The back and leg braces can be put through a dishwasher. The machine can be returned assembled, or if being couriered back to us it will need to be flatpacked by undoing the six thumbscrews, pack the parts in the machine body using bubble wrap or screwed up charcoal sacks to prevent parts moving, and then pack the entire machine in cardboard.
HOW TO RETURN THE HOG ROAST MACHINE:
You can either send the machine via courier or return it to us yourself (by appointment). If using a courier it will need to be securely packaged. If you would like us to supply a carton please advise us in advance.
Please note - this is a guide only and does not cover every eventuality. As professional hog roasters we've encountered and overcome many problems over the years. We carry a basic tool box which gets us out of most problems should they arise. Our experience also means we know what can go wrong and how best to prevent this from happening. We can be booked to fully roast your hog for you, including carving and serving your guests. If however you opt for the diy option then this is a very rewarding experience and quite straight forward, but ultimately we cannot be held liable should things not work out. The limit of our liability is the hire charge paid for use of the machine. Should part of the machine fail to perform, consideration will be given to partially refunding your hire. If you have had free hire as part of a special package hog and machine deal then regrettably we would not be able to offer any refund. Please do not let this put you off - for the majority of our clients things go smoothly and without bother. It is only in a few incidences, usually when this guide has not been followed, that things have gone wrong. The most common problem is abuse of the motor. A 40kg rated motor is £55 to replace and this is the most expensive part on the machine. If a machine is damaged or returned with a part broken or missing we will only deduct the replacement cost from your deposit. You will not forfeit your complete deposit. If however you fail to return a machine the full replacement value of <£500 will be due.
This Hog Roasting Guide is brought to you by www.adoptabaconsandwich.co.uk