Well, I know it’s been a bit of radio silence here, these last few days, but it’s for a good reason! We’ve had family company, and on Saturday, we celebrated the 2nd Annual Pig and Pie, a delightful gathering of friends, fire, and way too much food.
This tradition started last year, when we were trying to think of a fun (food-centered) way to warm our newly leased farmlet. On a long road trip, we were listening to this entirely irritating audiobook, which I won’t link to. One of the few highlights of the story (largely centered otherwise around some pretty uncomfortable privilege), was the tale of raising two pigs in a backyard. This led, as you do on roadtrips, to a rambling conversation about pigs, raising pigs, eating pigs, ROASTING pigs… And before we knew it, I’d found directions online to build a pig roaster, and a plan was hatched. Seriously, I’m a bit dangerous with the Google. Lots of good stories start with, “Well, Fae was looking that up on Craigslist,” for instance. Remind me to tell you sometime about the ‘free’ 20 foot fruit trees we dug up and moved. Two of us. With just shovels.
Like last year, we used these directions: Three Guys from Miami Roast a Pig. It’s a little hard to follow the back and forth style of that website, but it’s totally worth it. Basically, you build a rectangle with cinderblocks, make two metal frames, sandwich your pig between them, and cook it indirectly under a tin foil blanket. It’s surprisingly fast, and the results are insanely delicious. Plus, you don’t have to dig a hole.
Like the previous year, we invited a gang of folks, explaining that we’d provide the roasted pig and many many pies: they bring a side dish to share, some chairs, and beverages. However, as the day approached, we ran into a little difficulty: the packing company had FORGOTTEN to put our pig on the truck! It’s not a Pig and Pie without a pig! The guy at our local grocery who’d ordered it was horrified…offered to sell us a bunch of shoulders, butts, and some ribs at a discount. And E pointed out that we still had 3 trotters AND tail in the freezer that we could wire on.
But I was NOT serving our guests FRANKENPIG. Unacceptable.
At the last moment, I found a replacement at the State Farmer’s Market, and with help of a pal managed to solve the Great Pig Crisis of 2015. Here she is in our bathtub, after a thorough salting. We chucked in some bags of ice, a reflective blanket, and a thick dropcloth, creating the world’s oddest cooler overnight.
While the pig was salting, we banged out a bunch of pie. Just for the record, while you might think 7 pies is too many for only 30ish people (FIVE PEOPLE PER PIE), it’s really just about the right amount. I think we only had a few slices left over.
The next morning, we got the coals going in the corners of the pig roaster, and got her cooking. It was super windy, though…so we ended up trying many different ways to keep the heat in, and the foil covering together.
It was, of course, basically the COLDEST day of the entire spring (would get down to 19 that night), but the pig cooked right along. I think it took about an hour longer than last year, but it was bigger AND the weather was not as ideal. Sunny, but COLD.
That metal framework is the genius of the operation: you roast it on one side, then pick up the whole frame (which is wired together) and flip it halfway through. Right before serving, you lift it off, rake the coals out of the corners and under the pig, and put it back to crisp up the skin. Then you set it up on a table, and get out of the way.
This is the moment when I’m telling our friends: “WAIT, I HAVE TO TAKE A PICTURE FIRST!”. Not a popular sentiment, but they hung on like troopers, before digging into a giant gathering of sides (my friends can COOK), and demolishing a good portion of the pig and all the pies.
There were horseshoes and knives thrown (I am QUEEN of the knife-throwers), a frisbee tossed around, and many folks backed up to the firepit as the sun went down and the temperature dropped precipitously. But despite the cold, it was an amazing time.
So that’s what’s been happening at the Farmlet. Except, of course, there’s also been TONS of good springtime happenings: the baby buns are about to open their eyes, the Impulse Chickens are enormous, and soon will be having a little free range time, and the plants (garden and otherwise) are really taking off. We’ll have rhubarb of our own in a few weeks, hurray! And I have a post on rending your own lard all lined up, with a recipe for lard pie crust.
But in the meantime, I’m going to go inhale some more leftovers.
Until next time,