Haven't you always wanted to be that neighbor -- the one who hosts the fabulous, big-scale backyard parties with tropical flair and death-defying culinary stunt work? I'm talking going full-hog, literally: roasting a dang pig for everyone you know. Imagine the scent of roasting pork flesh wafting through the air, frozen margarita in your hand, the admiration/envy of your neighbors. It could be you!
And even if you don't want this to be you (maybe too many little ones to keep away from the fire), wouldn't you love to find out how people pull this sort of thing off -- and if it's even legal?
First of all, is it legal? In most places in the US, roasting a whole pig is legal, but you should check in with your local fire department about any safety measures they recommend.
Where do you get a whole pig? Good question. This will require a little research. Ask around at your farmers' market or butcher shop about a local farm that sells whole, slaughtered pigs. Or check out LocalHarvest.org, where you can search for farms near you. Ask for a young female (gilt) or castrated male (barrow) around 85 pounds (live weight), which will feed around 80 people. Plan and purchase your pig as far in advance as you can as pigs do not grow on trees.
How do you roast a pig? The Butcher's Guide to Well-Raised Meat suggests three methods: a Chinese roasting box, spit roasting, and the DIY rebar/concrete block method. I've seen the spit roaster in action (and tasted the results, mmm), but the concrete block is the least expensive option. Check out 3 Guys From Miami for detailed instructions.
What will we do while the pig cooks? You may want to hand out some leis and some mixed tropical drinks with little umbrellas in them. You can find these faux cultural artifacts at Michaels, or sometimes Pier 1, and definitely at OrientalTrading.com.
Warning: if you go with a Hawaiian theme, do not attempt to make poi. Even when made correctly, it is not delicious. It's mashed taro. Even if you're a poi aficionado, the chances of attracting a crowd of other poi-lovers are pretty slim. Make a tropical fruit salad instead and, what the hell, throw out some salsa and chips, too. Roast some hot dogs for the kids -- and the adults who can't wait.
Grab a broom handle or a hockey stick and play limbo. Pick up a toy ukulele and roam about strumming it absent-mindedly. Let someone take it away from you and pass it around. Set up a kiddie pool -- or two.
The pig is almost ready! Get ready to serve it. You'll need a long, sturdy table set up for the pig before it's done. Have your knives, spatulas, plates, and fixings ready but out of kids' reach.
While everyone is serving themselves, prepare yourself for the last phase of this party: the post-pig coma. You want people to leave before they fall asleep in your favorite lawn chair. Have some foil handy to prepare take-home packages and practice this phrase: "Thank you so much for coming. You're hosting next time, yes? M'bye."
Image via PinkMoose/Flickr