Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Art of Cooking a Hog

This article, part of The Southern Oral History scholarship program, written by David Cecelski reminds me of the time about 14 years ago while living in Tennessee. I moved to Tennesee for a job opportunity and through a friend I was introduced to hog cooking. This particular Tennessee gentleman took a serious approach to bbq, but at the same time it was as easy for him as riding a motorcyle is for me now--cooking bbq was something that southern men "just knew" how to do. He'd learned it from his father, who learned from his father and so on.

The gentleman and his neighbor spent the entire afternoon splitting some hickory they'd cut the previous year and let season all winter and spring. They cooked the hog most of the entire evening and part of the morning. It was as much "roasting" as "smoking" I guess, but the end result was similar.

They made a frame from an old bed springs and set it on some concrete blocks and cooked the hog slowly, careful to keep the meat away from the fire just the perfect distance not to burn it, but close enough to cook it slowly.

The hog was served the next day at a family gathering of about 50 people with side dishes of deviled eggs, cole slaw, baked beans and plenty of desert. Not knowing how to eat proper southern bbq, I ate it plain between two slices of bread and resisted the temptation to put ketchup on it, but most of the family ate it plain on a plate and doused it heavily with a vinegar-based sauce. It wasn't pure vinegar, but it was close.

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