View Full Version : Eating Hogs.

November 20, 2004, 02:20 AM
Here lately I've been pretty lucky to shoot a hog just about each time I go out. Occasionally, I even get a nice one under 80lbs. I haven't been keen on eating them after my first try. With last weeks pig, I took the hams and the backstrap.

I'm curing the hams with salt in the fridge and haven't done anything with the backstraps.

Are there any suggestions on how I should treat a hog? I clean them like deer, and there won't be any opportunity to boil them, so traditional hog processing is out.

Can you smoke these things on a water smoker, or should I use my BBQ pit to cook them?

Any insights on these questions or instructions on how to do this right would be appreciated. I was told the meat would taste better if left on ice for 3 days, draining the water each day and adding more ice, so I have done that- but what else?


November 20, 2004, 08:30 AM

When I typed "cooking wild hogs" in my AOL search box several things came up. I only surfed a few but they have some ideas for the cuts you have.


Rich Lucibella
November 20, 2004, 08:22 PM
I dislike pork....yet I LOVE wild Hog! Where we take 'em in Texas, there are not trees to hang 'em so we generally take just backstraps and hams without opening the body cavity.

I will say the following with a personal certainty (IOW YMMV):
The single most important task in harvesting a good hog is getting it on ice immediately. By immediately, I mean carrying a large filled ice chest and heavy contractor bags; Get the hams and backstrap immediately after the kill, in the field. Then throw 'em on ice. (No drivin' around town with that beast on the hood of the truck! ;))

When I get home, up to 3 days later, I inevitably trim everything and freeze the hams. Then I cook the never been frozen backstraps. I usually marinate overnight in anything you'd like. I various combinations I've used: garlic, oil, cooking sherry, onion, salt, pepper, soy sauce, orange juice, pineapple juice, basil. You name it.

Then I roast the straps in the oven, usually in a clay pot with onion, mushroom and taters. I've been known to eat that daily for 3-4 days....roasts; cold samiches; you name it. It's the best cut of meat I've ever had....tender and moist; not AT ALL gamey. I've also spit roasted and pan roasted these with great success.

Wanna REALLY have your taste buds smack your brain a thank-you? Serve cranberry chutney on the side. Peasant's method: one can whole cranberrys; heat to boil as you slowly stir in a simple roux to thicken (flour and water mixed thoroughly to the consistency of heavy syrup). At the table, spoon it warm over the hog, and be prepared to thank whoever for small pleasures!

My luck with hams is more hit or miss, usually consisting of stews. Once tried to make a chile with one...threw it out. I'm certain hams too would be much better if never frozen and am interested in your process of salt curing.

As to smoking vs flame, I'm not real good at smoking food, so I can't help you. Please share everything you try, including what doesn't work.

November 21, 2004, 12:28 AM
In my experiance it is best to capture the big boar hogs in pen and castrate them, then feed them on corn for 6 or 8 weeks, then butcher them in the usual way. Sows and shoats up to about 50 pounds can be hunted and killed, but the boars taste really gamy unless they are castrated.

Ditto on the ice. Back in the old days my family used to wait until there was a good solid freeze (as late as mid December to early January in the South) to kill hogs, then we injected meat with sugar/salt/saltpeter solution, covered it with the same mixture and smoked it. I think that is half the purpose of country smoke curing, to hide the taste of meat which hasn't been kept chilled.

My grandfather had a really good recipe for smoked meat, using one part of brown sugar, 1/2 part of salt and 1/4 part of saltpeter IIRC, but the saltpeter probably should be left out considering all the info about nitrites and cancer risk. In some parts of the country they cure ham with salt alone, but recalling my undergraduate microbiology course, salt will not kill Staph aureus bacteria, a really bad germ to contaminate meat. Sugar curing is safer.

November 22, 2004, 09:40 AM
We used to hunt feral hogs down near Corsicana when they were flooding the Richland Reservoir. It’s amazing what kind of hunting you have when the rising water pushes 100% of the game onto 10% of the land!
We hunted them all year because the farmers and ranchers wanted them gone, hogs will do a lot of damage if left unchecked. The advice on chilling them fast is sound advice we kept 120 quart coolers of ice just for this. But as for leaving the front shoulders behind I wouldn’t think of it. One they are easily removed and skinned later and two they have the most flavor on the hog. The hams pale in comparison. When hogs go feral it doesn’t tke them long to adapt to their new home and subsequently they develop large front shoulders for rutting up food and their hams become leaner and tougher while the front shoulders become larger and well marbled (Tasty)
On the subject of cooking them I’ve done a lot with them. Several we cooked whole. Just dressed and singed the hair with a torch then buried them in the ground with coals above and below.
I also diced the shoulders and froze them to be ground and used later to mix with my deer to make venison sausage after deer season.
And then there’s smoking. Once again I like to use the front shoulders as the hams are often too lean. If you’ve ever seen what they call a “Picnic Ham” at the supermarket it’s a front shoulder. Difficult to carve but very tasty.
1 gallon water
2 ½ Cups kosher salt
1/3 Cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon liquid garlic
1 oz pickling spices

1.Soak the ham in the brine for three days. Use a crock or plastic container No Metal! You can clean a cooler or use a food grade plastic bucket, just make sure you weigh down the meat so it is completely submerged at all times. Once a day remove the ham and stir the brine and replace the meat. This is called overhauling and will give an even cure to the meat.
2.After three days remove the ham a rinse with cold water pat dry with paper towels and allow to dry in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
3. Rub the dried ham liberally with brown sugar and smoke at 225° for at least eight hours.
Hickory is my favorite, but pecan and maple make a nice smoke also and never use mesquite! It’ll taste like furniture.

Rich Lucibella
November 22, 2004, 10:48 AM
I will certainly take your advice as to the front legs. We generally take these depending on shot placement and caliber, but I've never taken the time to discriminate between hams and fronts.

When you brine and smoke, does it come out salty like a store bought "Country Ham"?

November 22, 2004, 11:36 AM
It tastes similar, everyone has there own tolerance to salt, but I believe country hams are brine soaked even longer, similar to corned beef, which incidentally is quite similar to this ham recipe without the smoke. Simply experiment with the recipe. Most supermarkets will order you fresh hams if you ask so you don't need the wild pig.
If you are thinking of a Virginia Ham that is another creature entirely. It takes from six months to a year to make but man! What a flavor! If you need a Virginia ham recipe just ask
In fact if you all need any recipe simply ask. I am a retired executive chef, if I don’t have the recipe your looking for I’ll create it! :D

November 22, 2004, 01:36 PM
CJ, a few questions, please. First, are you soaking in iced brine or 40 degree brine or what temp? Second what are you opinions about use of ginger ale and/ or pineapple and/or cloves to spice pork shoulder instead of smoking it? Third, concerning the ribs, what is your favorite rib recipe?

November 22, 2004, 01:46 PM
Is this particular version of pig not so useful gutting and cooking in pit?

November 22, 2004, 02:31 PM
M&M the brine doesn’t need to be refrigerated, but it is imperative to keep the meat completely submerged. If not trig gnosis is likely! The meat is actually breaking down as it soaks in the brine and as molecules break down the salt seeps in, that’s in part how it cures the meat.
Traditional salt cured Virginia Hams were kept outdoors in salt boxes for a year!
As for cooking fresh pork with different spices and sauces I’m all for it. I heard of one old boy that cooked a ham in coke and pineapple! The thing is to cook it long enough to be tender. There are two ways meat is tender, rare and very done. I will eat pork loin and tender loin rare all else gets cooked until the second coming.
If you want to try something out of the ordinary pigs like to be cooked with sweet things. Apples, plums, prunes, golden raisins even peaches. Also odd combinations. I used to serve a pork tenderloin that was basted with a combination of maple syrup (the real stuff) and Dijon mustard.
As for ribs one of my favorite ways is an old country style. I braise the spare ribs very slowly in beer, onions and garlic then put them on a hot smoker 300° for a half hour or so, then baste them with my favorite BBQ and lower the heat to 225° or 250° for thirty minutes.
Damn! I getting hungry I gotta have beer and BBQ :D

Oh yes Handy. If you are talking about the whole wild pig cooked in a pit you bet it’s great. I like to make a thin BBQ out of 1lb salt, two bottle white wine, two liters 7up and a pint of Ken Davis or Stubs BBQ then inject as much as the pig will hold with a cattle syringe. You have to keep in mind that wild pigs have hardly any fat compared to their domestic relatives and some times you have to add fat or liquid to cook it in traditional styles.

November 22, 2004, 06:33 PM
I hadn't realized the wild ones were so lean. Thanks!

November 22, 2004, 07:04 PM
CJ, you're making me sad I left the swamp and bayou country. Haven't even SEEN a wild pig for over a year!

One other question and I'll leave you alone. Supposing the cook uses a (Mississippi style) onion/garlic/pepper + tomato barbecue sauce, do you like your barbecue pulled or sliced? If you pull it, would you add fat to the sauce or the meat itself?

(I'm not a pro by any means but I've been around barbecuing for many years, some good and some great. I agree the 24 hour slow dry way of barbecuing which produces great results in tame pigs seems to produce more stringy meat in the feral ones. See my earlier comment about trapping and castrating.)

The idea of making sure it is well done made me laugh as I remembered some buddies who were cooking a whole pig in the ground and got to drinking a bit. They wanted to make sure it was well done so they waited too long and all that was left was some charred bones!

Rich Lucibella
November 22, 2004, 10:54 PM
Exec Chef, huh?

You stick around, Son. We think we can use you lots!

Welcome to TFL and thanks for the GREAT tips.

Look for email after my next hunt!
Rich Lucibella

November 23, 2004, 10:55 AM
Yea, M&M I’m now living on the North Shore of Lake Superior, quite a ways from central Texas and those tasty piggies. I do have moose and beer now as well as white tails that out weight Texas deer two to one!
On the BBQ question I enjoy both sliced and pulled, however I’ve found with wild game as mention earlier some fat or liquid needs to be added. I’ve done everything from the BBQ you mentioned to smoking beef or pork along with wild pig or venison and mixing them as I pulled or shredded the BBQ.
I’ve seen something similar to the charred bones story you posted. Some buddies did two pigs and thought they’d leave one in the pit while they ate the first one. Ate the first pig drank lot’s of beer forgot the second pig! :rolleyes:

November 23, 2004, 10:58 AM
Rich…thanks for the welcome. I like the forum. I ran into a troll on my second day here, however an admin took care of him the same day so I was further impressed by the way the forum is run. I’ve seen situations such as that one get out of hand on other forums. Flame wars are a drag.
As for the tips, it’s my pleasure really. Hunting and subsequently cooking wild game is where my fundamental cooking skills grew from. So cooking and hunting are nearly inseparable as my favorite pursuits and I rarely become tired of talking about either.

Long Path
November 23, 2004, 06:27 PM
80 lb shoats are a treat to eat-- they're extremely tender. The shoulders aren't really worth the trouble, but there's fine eating in the hams and backstraps. Don't forget the tenderloins. Some like the livers. I don't, particularly. If they've been eating "deer corn", do NOT eat the liver. (Deer corn is usually high in aflatoxin, which accumulates in the liver.)

I've had some wonderful successes with the backstraps roasted in a shallow pan while half covered with pineapple juice and beer or mead.

Roasted barded tenderloins with garlic, kosher salt, ground pepper and fresh rosemary is a simple treat to impress anyone's pallet. On a small hog, though, they're small.

For the hams, I'm a huge fan of boning them out and freezing them for later use as roasts or sources of chunk pork. My all-time fav-or-ite pork meal is [sfx: host of angels singing] Green Chile Stew (http://southernfood.about.com/library/cprec/bl51_7.htm). There are hundreds of variations of this-- look around for your favorite recipe.

I also love fresh pork for homemade chile. I hand-dice it finely before browning it for the chile pot. I just use a variation of the tried and true Wick Fowler's mix, and make a triple batch from bulk spices that I buy from the store, varying only by using fresh spices (onion, garlic, oregano) instead of the dried stuff. When your batch comes out perfect (and it will-- that hand-dicing trick is the secret to great consistancy), freeze it in quart tupperwares. Chile freezes superbly, and you can thaw it rapidly for a no-effort gourmet meal some night in the next year. (I tend to take it hunting.)

SAUSAGE: It's easier than you think!
Finally, my wife found that they sell these attachments for our old Sunbeam mixer. She got a meatgrinder attachment for about $20 or less, which fits on top of the mixer, and came with a sausage-stuffing attachment. From the internet, she ordered some vegetable-based sausage casings and some sausage spice mixes for cheap. We started cubing up the pork and dropping it into the grinder. Hey! This was EASY! The grinder catches the fascia, too, eliminating a lot of work. Run it once through to grind it, pour in the spices and run it through a second time to stuff the sausage casings. We then smoked some or just froze the sausage to be cooked later. Some we mixed with venison. My wife discovered that there's all kinds of free recipes on the internet for making sausage, so she just buys the bulk spices locally, and we do it even cheaper. We've made bratwurst, itallian sausage, breakfast sausage.... great stuff. That grinder makes it a snap to take care of a big hog. I mean-- what carnivore doesn't like sausage?!? :) Only caveat: If you're going to make sausage, be sure to save some of the fat when you clean the hog. Wild hog is surprisingly lean, and you need to add some fat to the meat when making sausage!

I've been thinking about curing my own hams, but need a good place to properly hang 'em.

Damn. I'm making myself hungry, here. ;)

November 23, 2004, 09:21 PM
Then there is always ... sausage! :D

I asked Mrs. Meek could she get her cousin to send her the measurements of his home made pig cooker and if he does I'll post them here. He's moved back to Louisiana so I don't know if she can get them any time soon. All I recall is that it was made up of simple MIG welded stainless steel sheet, with wheels on the bottom and a box in the top to hold the fire. We would put the pigs in it and fire it up, a whole lot easier than digging a hole in the ground! Also more portable than a hole!

Rich you guys should start a cooking forum! We could talk about everything from Brasilian clay ovens to how to cook moose nose soup.

November 29, 2004, 12:25 PM
I went to the ranch this weekend and started pulling out lumber for building a smokehouse when my dad suggested that I use the outhouse. I built an outhouse about five years ago and nobody has used it yet, so with modifications, it will become my smokehouse.

I guess I'll be smoking rump roasts, and such.

Anyway- I have a bunch of Army pot-bellied stoves that I bought from surplus sales on Fort Hood. I think I'll use one for the smoke generator. When it gets done- I'll post photos if that is allowable.

I have some backstrap that would be good if smoked.

ALso- does anybody ever smoke deer hams? How's it taste?