Cook Time: 20 Hours
- 1 180-pound hog, gutted and split
- 3 recipes Hog Injection
- 9 cups Jack’s Old South Original Rub, or 3 recipes Basic Barbecue Rub
- 3 recipes Hog Glaze
- 2 boneless pork shoulders (Boston butt only) or 2 brisket flats (about 6 pounds each)
What you’ll need:
- Meat saw
- 1 heavy-duty injector line
- Brush (a kitchen basting brush could be used, but a larger unused paint brush will save you time)
- At least one helper (as you’ll need someone to help you carry the whole hog)
On a long table covered with clean butcher paper or other sanitary covering, lay long strips of aluminum foil. Place the hog flat on its back on top of the foil. With a very sharp butcher knife, score (i.e., make shallow cuts in the meat) along each side of the spine of the hog, where the ribs connect. Then crack and pull down each side of the hog, starting from the spine. You want the hog to be lying semi-flat so that you can easily reach inside.
Remove the membrane (or “silver”) from the backs of the ribs on each side. Trim away any excess fat on the ham, shoulders, and along the rib cage.
Using a meat saw, split and saw down between the ribs and down each side of the hog: You’re going to cut the ribs on both sides three inches off the spine. This is basically making baby back ribs out of the full spares. Saw only the bone, trying not to pierce the skin on the bottom of the hog. (This makes it easier, after cooking, to serve ribs from the hog.)
Separate the picnic ham of the soldier from the Boston butt. Again, trim both hams of any excess fat. When prepping the shoulder, there is a membrane that you can feel with a Knife that separates the Boston butt end, which is next to the spine, from the picnic ham (or shank). Cut through the membrane, making sure not to cut through the skin. This lays the shoulder so it can crust over and have a good bark.
Load the hog injection into your injector. Out of habit, I always start by injecting the hams first and then I work my way to the head. I injected in seven locations all over the ham, making sure the ham is full to the point of popping. It doesn’t matter where exactly you inject so long as it’s all over the hog. A word of caution: Don’t make more injection holes than necessary, because more holes means more places for the marinade to leak out. Move to the sides of the cavity where the bacon is. It will be covered by the ribs. Inject all along both sides. There are two tenderloins at the end of the spine near the hams. Inject them carefully and do not over-inject (or shoot too much fluid in); if the fluid begins leaking out, you’ll know that you’ve done more than enough. Then move to the shortened ribs that have been cut and inject straight down between the ribs directly against the spine into the loin. Remember not to push the needle through the skin on the bottom of the Hogs back. Now inject the shoulder, butt, and shank (picnic ham). Last, inject the cheek meat (or jowl) along the hog’s jawbone.
Sprinkle the rub throughout the cavity and on the surface of any exposed meat. (Some people think you have to actually “rub” the rub into the meat, but I don’t think that does anything to the taste.) Gather up the foil you’ve laid the hog on and use it to wrap the entire hog loosely
Let the hog sit for 1 hour to soak up all the injection. During this time, light the smoker and bring it to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the 2 shoulders or brisket flats in the smoker, and then carefully place the hog on top of the shoulders/brisket, so that the extra meat runs the length of the hog directly under the center. Close the smoker and let the hog smoke for about 20 hours, or until the internal temperature of the meatiest part of the shoulder is 205 degrees Fahrenheit. (I often set my hog on the smoker at noon the day before I want to eat it; then I remove it at 8 a.m. the next morning.)
Unwrap the foil, and using a brush, apply the hog glaze throughout the inside of the cavity and on the hams. Rewrap the hog loosely in the foil. Leaving the hog on the smoker, let the temperature fall (no more wood is needed at this point). The glaze will caramelize and set while the hog begins to rest and cool down enough so that folks can start pulling the meat. (Unless you’re a professional caterer or otherwise need to prevent the whole hog, the hog is left in the smoker while it is picked and pulled and, best of all, eaten.
In true Southern tradition, a whole hog is never “carved” per se. Wearing clean heavy-duty gloves and using either large tongs or your hands, gently pull the meat out of the hog in chunks and pile it onto large trays or straight onto plates.