Building a cinder block pit to smoke a hog is taking whole hog cooking back to the old school methods. Honestly, as a BBQ nerd, there is nothing more rewarding than this entire process.
We hosted my buddy Michael Letchworth (partner at Sam Jones BBQ in Ayden, NC) to come to Texas and walk us through this process that the legendary Skylight Inn has employed since 1947.
Watch that process and cook in our Whole Hog Video: https://youtu.be/vu4us4TBYJ8
- 1 Whole Hog (this video had a 135lb hog), split
- 1 Gallon of Eastern North Carolina BBQ Sauce
- 1 package Morton's iodized salt
- 64 cinder blocks
- (8) 4 x 1/2" steel rebar
- (2) 2 x 10 corrugated roofing (sub any measurements to cover the pit)
- Burn barrel (sub 10 more blocks to burn wood as shown in the above video)
- Instant Read Thermometer
- High heat gloves
Prepare the Hog
Split the back bone & head with a sawzall so it lays flat.
Build the Block Pit
For a hog of comparable size - Stack 2 rows of 5 blocks long, stacked 4 high. Connect them with 2 rows of 4 stacked 4 high. Place the rebar above the 3rd set of blocks on the long sides about 10" apart. You will have to place the 3rd row of blocks slightly inset so the rebar will reach.
Watch this video for the build process:
Prepare the coals
Burn wood down to coals in a burn barrel. Supplement with lump charcoal if necessary.
Cook the Hog
Lay the Hog skin side up across the rebar. Many people use chicken wire or fencing on each side of the hog to help flip it. However, as discussed in the video, we simply used rebar only, to allow more room for the skin to expand and bubble during the crisping process. This is a very old method. It's certainly ok to use wire and makes for an easier flip.
Sprinkle the skin with about a cup of tap water to wet it. Sprinkle it with about 3/4 of the container of salt. This will help crisp the skin in the final portion of the cook.
Sprinkle some coals down the long edges of the pit.
Continue this process until the hams reach 125 degrees internal.
Flip the hog. We used high heat gloves that came half way up our arms. I recommend towels to cover up more of your arm if you go this route. Otherwise it's hard to reach all the way under the hams.
Continue shoveling in coals until the hams are 185 degrees internal.
Shovel coals directly under the hog for the last 15 - 20 minutes of the cook to bubble and crisp up the skin.Pull & Chop the Pork
Pull the meat onto a chopping block. Also bring in pieces of the crispy skin. Using a cleaver chop all of the meat together. Adding the skin gives you a crispy bit in every bite.
Sauce to taste using this Eastern North Carolina Whole Hog BBQ Sauce.
Eat the pork by itself or make a sandwich with slaw.
Our favorite way to eat whole hog is to enjoy a good old fashioned pig pickin!