High on the (Whole) Hog

I went to my first pig pickin’ this weekend and…¡Wow!

The Pig Kahuna

The Pig Kahuna

Growing up in Massachusetts, the only thing I can compare it to is a clam bake, which, oddly enough, usually centers around lobster. After having access to a whole hog on a smoker, I have a newfound appreciation for a) how difficult it is to get at lobster meat and b) just how much meat is on a pig.

The event, held in Durham’s Duke Park neighborhood, was the result of a backyard conversation between two neighbors and a ‘why not?’ attitude. As in, why not mix a 165 pound hog, salt and pepper, 10 hours over the (cough) gas cooker and a little dip? The result was a glorious bit of ‘cue-aided community building.  (Thanks, Doug!)

While Doug and his neighbor Jeff did use a gas cooker,  at least they had a pile of wood nearby to please the eye. Plus, they woke up at 5 a.m. to get things started, earning some nice legitimacy points.

some prime picked pork

some prime picked pork

While this should have been obvious to me beforehand, the best part of the evening was actually pickin‘ pieces from the smoker. Finding that perfectly crusty piece (like this little gem to the left) was an experience I’d love to repeat (and did quite a few times on Saturday).

True to my moniker, I enjoyed a rarity in NC barbecue–a rib. And ever the breadaholic since Passover’s end, I crafted a sandwich with hand-picked morsels. That’s it below, moments before departing this world. And, yes, that is a nice piece of “outside brown.”

If I have to split hairs, I thought the barbecue could have been chopped finer. But I can certainly imagine the cleaver guys getting pork elbow after working their way through most of that hog.

The kicker of the whole thing was meeting a nice Jewish family who’d moved to Carolina from Israel. Alas, being Orthodox, they didn’t partake of the pork. The poor souls. But, as a devout BBQ Jew,  I could understand their devotion. And we met in the middle at a keg of nice, local beer.

The grand sandwich

The grand sandwich

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