Does anyone actually own a pig roaster

If you own a pig roaster or know someone who does, then I just have a couple of questions. 1) how often is it actually used and 2) Just how
much of a hassle is it -- how long it takes from start to finishing cleanup, and how intensively does the pig need to be tended while cooked.
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On Oct 24, 11:10pm, Ignoramus10132 <ignoramus10...@NOSPAM. 10132.invalid> wrote:

The best roast pig I have ever eaten was wrapped in (Clay)mud and cooked in an underground pit. A little bit of labor but well worth it.
DL
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I do not own one, but have in the past. How often it is used can vary. Once people find out you have one, you might use if frequently. People may want to borrow it (bad idea) or they may want you to come and cook for them. Those have to be weighed on an individual case basis weighing headaches vs. benefits. It will take 24 hours to get it all out, prepare the pig, season, marinate or rub, cook, and then clean up. Design of the cooker will dictate how long it takes to clean it, and if you run into a problem, as a welder, you may be able to make a design change. The pig takes something on the order of babysitting a two year old, as they can get into trouble just about as fast
All depends on what winds your clock It is a lot of work, and you have to tapdance inside the lines with the Health Department, and be sure to understand their rules in advance. For friends, family, and work, doing it say 6-12 times a year, it just could make you the center of attention if only for a day.
Did I mention you get a lot of free beer, and attention from female hog cookout groupies, some exciting, and some boaring.
Steve
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An under-marketed-to segment, if ever I saw one

-groan-
Dave
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On Oct 24, 6:10pm, Ignoramus10132 <ignoramus10...@NOSPAM. 10132.invalid> wrote:

It'shardtobeattheresults.Onlyhelpedwithoneonceanddidn'thavetocleanitbutitwassomeofthebestporkI'veeverhad. Karl
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cooked.
I've got a scaled-down unit I built that's able to handle about 80lb dressed weight -- so really, a "shoat roaster". But roasting shoats are always on the market around here, and they fit the size gathering I'm willing to cook for.
It's a big hassle. If you truly like low-n-slow barbeque, it's worth it, but you can expect to tend the fire at least once an hour for 24 hours. Too hot, and you put a rind on the meat, too slow and it can vary from a bad case of food poisoning to just never getting done. Missing your dinner schedule by four or five hours just isn't an option when 40 people are getting drunk waiting for the bell.
I run mine at 205-210 degrees. Even with dual (stack and fire door) dampers, it's a bit of a juggling act to keep the heat constant.
Real wood, only. I'm partial to blackjack oak; bark on.
Except for the grease cans, I fire clean mine. That's not a hassle, at all.
LLoyd
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Ignoramus10132 wrote:

The gun club I used to belong to before I moved did an annual pig roast which I worked a number of times. It is a *big* production with tending the pig / fire all day, preparing all the sides, etc.
I regularly smoke brisket, ribs, chicken, etc. in a standard horizontal offset smoker and it is still a fair amount of work. When I do a smoker run I make sure I use it to capacity and then I portion, foodsaver bag and freeze all the extras for future use ('Q freezes well).
Personally I would never consider buying or building a complete dedicated pig roaster since it's:
1. A lot of work to use 2. Would get used perhaps 4 times a year at best 3. Takes a lot of room to store 4. Requires a large group of guests to be worthwhile
What I would consider is to build a big pig roaster spit that could be setup over a ground fire pit ringed with concrete blocks. Such a spit would require far less storage space and cleanup that a complete unit, and could probably be built to fold and store in a bundle similar size to a patio umbrella. Basically a couple folding tripod stands, a long spit and a power head.
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Ignoramus10132 wrote:

All depends on who built it and what they added. Mine is simple to run. Day before the BBQ you set it up, load the first batch of wood and light it, then prep your pig. Good cleaning then a rub and marinade injection or 20... Then load onto the skewers and move to the roaster. At the roaster you open the door and lock the pigs skewers onto the rotisserie shaft. Start it turning and give it a quick basting.
Then comes the watch and feed part. Watch the temperature inside the roaster and try to keep it in the 200-220 range (can be fun if the wind is wrong and you don't have good draft controls) feed in wood/charcoal as needed. Good woods like maple, oak, cherry, seasoned and DRY. I also have a propane burner in mine just in case I need more heat OR the wood doesn't like to burn well. I keep a jug of basting sauce handy and usually baste every hour or so as well. I do that through a small basting slot in the door that I can open sections of, shove the mop in and baste a section at a time.
Normally you can figure that it will take about 16 - 24 hours for most 100-250 pound pigs. The larger ones just take longer to cook through.
Clean-up isn't hard, close the dampers, open the door, remove pig. Open the lower doors so you can pull the grease pans. Close it back up and open the dampers and let the heat clean it, the same method as a self cleaning oven! Once it has cooked a while, close the dampers and let it cool down. Open it back up, scrape any built up carbon as needed, rake out the ashes and sweep out the rest.
--
Steve W.

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On Oct 25, 12:10am, Ignoramus10132 <ignoramus10...@NOSPAM. 10132.invalid> wrote:

How often do you hold big gatherings or cookouts now? Do you just hit the highlights of 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Xmas? Or do you have all your family and friends descend on you any weekend the weather is good? While roast pig is a big draw, unless you're going to open it up to the general public and maybe sell tickets (which opens that whole "selling food to the public" can-o-worms) the charm quickly wanes and you'll be left with just your regular core of attendees after just a couple. You know, whoever shows up now without the pig.
I have a friend who shares a rig with his Dad, they usually roast smaller animals in the under #100 category, so somewhat shorter cooktimes in the 12-18 hour range, they start the prep the afternoon/ evening before, mounting the spit and skewers (their setup has the skewers go through the spit, so it can't be mounted onto the spit after prep). They cut off all the legs above the knee (reduces the swing radius) and salt the eyes to reduce the whole "it's looking at me" aspect for their guests. They add spice mix to the whole animal inside and out, fill the chest cavity with about 5# each quartered apples and oranges and about two bottles of red wine. The fruit is tossed after cooking, it's role is to help keep everything moist. The carcass is sutured up and the skewers are held in place with stainless MIG wire (welding content). I'd guess prep takes on the order of 4 or 5 hours with 3 or 4 people. I'm sure people who do it every week could do it in less, but by then you're probably into selling tickets and renting function halls anyway.
This is messy business, you are constantly juggling ice, water, and covers to keep flies off the pig. Lots of heavy gauge plastic and big fans to keep the flies blown away and the participants, and you need to have clear walking space all the way around the spit. I'd guess a one-car garage would be a good size, but by the time you set up side tables for mixing spices, a few trashcans, etc., a two-car is not out of line. You need to leave yourself enough time to catch a few hours sleep between prep and cooking, or have a few more people to draw on.
Cooking time takes constant monitoring, but it's not like you can't visit with people a little, as long as they're willing to sit with you and don't expect you to wander and top off drinks. Two or three people to rotate through (much like you would when driving for 8-10-12 hours) is the difference between arriving at the end of the process resonably rested and too worn out to enjoy, and the work is by no means done.
Carving and serving is a full time task for at least one, and better yet, two people. It helps if they know their way around the anatomy. Larger sections (legs, rumproasts) might need to go back on the fire for additional cook time, have some grates handy, as well as someone to tend them at the fire who knows how to run a thermometer while the rest of the carving continues.
Cleanup starts as soon as the animal arrives, picks up speed when it goes on the fire, hits high gear once the cutting starts, and continues for another day after all the guests leave. A lot of it, such as putting away anything not eaten before it spoils, cannot wait.
So basically, every time it gets used, count on devoting every waking minute for a long weekend for about 2 or 3 guys, and drawing heavily on a number of others, and tying up either a garage, basement, or good sized shed as well as large outdoor cooking and serving areas. Even more than the guests, do you have a core of friends to count on for prep every time like that? There are some that can be convinced to chip in every time for a chance at roast pig, and there are many who can't be bothered even so.
Their cook rig, by the way, is two portable stands, a spit with chaindrive from a gearmotor, and a firepit/heatshield cut from a 250 gallon oil tank, all seperate so easier to move around in parts and tuck away when not in use (I suspect the pit is stored outside).
Now for the next question: how many of your guests would still show up if you just smoked a couple of Boston Butts for pulling and three or four racks of ribs? Or if you just promised a steady supply of burgers and dogs? I suspect (to your dismay) you'll find the numbers won't differ greatly.
--Glenn Lyford
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I almost forgot: they use it about once or twice a year, despite having been doing it for about 30 years and being well known for putting on a good feed. Partly because that's about how often they can get groups together to make it worthwhile, and partly because of how much work is involved and how much it takes out of the "core knowledge base" who even when they're taking a break are still answering a steady stream of "how do I...".
Some of the limiting constants have nothing to do with pork, and more on how often guests can take time out of their busy lives to show up.
--Glenn Lyford
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On Oct 25, 12:10am, Ignoramus10132 <ignoramus10...@NOSPAM. 10132.invalid> wrote:

NOW... metal content (besides the roaster, et al)
I spent last week re-reviewing Historic Williamsburg (sigh).
The only two things that kept me interested were the print shop and the kitchens.
As time permits, I've decided to build a fully mechanical, escapement- style roasting jack.
Since it will handle at least 40lb of meat, it'll have to be equipped with counter-weights to balance the load, or else it would have to be set up with monster winding weights. I figure that a five-pronged "balance wheel" with sliding weights external to the cooker would be the easy way to go.
For the escapement - and because it adds visual appeal - I'm leaning toward the "flying ball on a string" mechanism, where, rather than a pendulum, the excapement is driven by throwing a tethered ball around a stanchion. Its inertia throws the stanchion in the direction of the ball's flight, and is given a slight push by the escapment to cause the ball and string to wind up. When it unwinds, it flys around to the other side of the stanchion to reverse the escapement lever.
I think the only difficult part will be to cut the reduction worm that was part of almost every colonial period roasting jack. Lacking a driven rotary table, I'll probably end up marking out and rough machining by hand, then filing the worm to contour.
LLoyd
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