Can barbecue help with a growing pandemic?
By Kell Phelps
As most of you know, I was born and raised in the country my entire life. I am thankful to my dad for teaching me all about hunting and fishing and the correct way to harvest without putting added stress on the environment. Lately it seems that the shoe is on the other foot as millions of feral hogs are now creating havoc on everything in which they come in contact. These wild — or feral — hogs have now reached into 45 states across America, carrying with them tons of parasites and wrecking thousands of farmers’ entire crops.
Since the late 1990’s, the wild hog problem has been growing at a rate that is almost scary. This boom of wild hogs started because of two main reasons. Hunters and farmers are both to blame for this population boom. Hundreds of hog farmers were losing money while trying to produce a once profitable product. As the pork prices bottomed out back then, many of these farmers simply opened the gates and turned their hogs out instead of harvesting them. It’s hard to blame them as the harvest of most farms would have bankrupted these farmers. The hunters of these hogs wanted to have them closer to them, so they would simply go and trap a small heard and transport them to a closer location where they are now, causing millions of dollars of damage because the harvest cannot control their population.
For the past few years, I have been working on a way to prepare these wild hogs to ensure they are safe to eat and good to taste at the same time. If you have ever caught the stench from a huge boar, then you understand what I am talking about...it is beyond a horrid smell to say the least. I have even witnessed pits that have been sold as scrap because they tried to cook one of these huge hogs but could not clean the smell out of it once they were done.
The more I have worked and studied up on this, I have found that the smaller and younger hogs do not have this very vile odor. While searching and studying up on cooking these wild hogs, I must have found several thousand recipes, and after several major failures at trying to produce a finished product that was safe and good to eat, I have finally succeeded. Below is the recipe in which I cooked three small pigs that had been trapped in Irwin Co., GA, by my cousins and uncle who are all farmers and have been effected by their damaging habits. My next test will be to try a bigger hog, and I feel confident that it will turn out as well also.
These hogs were about 30 to 40 pounds each when they were trapped. Below is how I helped turn a pandemic into a delicacy, and I am betting it will work for you as well.
Wild Hog done right!
Start with a 30 to 40 pound hog that has been skinned, beheaded, and cleaned thoroughly. Trim as much fat from the hog as possible. Soak for at least 48 hours in a mixture of ice water with a half gallon of white vinegar and one quart of lemon juice. After soaking, take hog and prepare for an injection of all major muscles with the following:
2 c. Louisiana hot sauce
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. kosher salt or Accent
Mix completely with enough apple juice to make 1 gallon of injection. Chill injection to temperature of the hog before injecting into the major muscles of the hog. After injection process is complete, use a thick coat of your favorite barbecue seasoning. (Below is what we used with our hogs.)
1/2 c. paprika
1/2 c. kosher salt
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated garlic
6 Tbsp. granulated onion
After seasoning is applied, place hog on the pit with his back to the rack. We used a few sliced apples in the cavity of our hogs as well. Cook at 275° using small amounts of pecan wood and charcoal until front shoulder is 185° internal temperature without touching the bone (meat only temperature) and the rear hams are 170° internal temperature. Time will change with the size of your hog.
After temperature is reached, take your hog and cover lightly with foil to cool outside of pit for about 45 minutes before pulling apart to serve.
We’re taking care of the hog problem — one succulent pig at a time!
Photo by Kell Phelps/NBBQN
Photo by Kell Phelps/NBBQN