John Brown Day!!! 260lb Gloucestershire Whole Hog BBQ
See all the Event Photos HERE
John Brown Smokehouse brings LIC the best in good times. Who else in New York throws an event involving Harvard Professors, Blues Legends, and their own in-house Hog expert? As far as I know, John Brown is the only BBQ joint in New York with a person on hand whose sole job is to smoke entire pigs. Along with the festivities we had a congressman proclaim April 7th as John Brown Day with the smokehouse getting a large framed copy of the proclamation.
My mission was to smoke a 260lb pasture raised Gloucestershire Hog. That’s right. I had to cook a beast who weighed more than the average NFL linebacker. The head alone weighed close to 50 and was larger than my chest. Now I don’t get that intimidated by large animals but this was pretty ridiculous. I approached this challenge with the biggest grin on my face ever.
Friday night we dragged my smoker over to JBS to get her situated. The plan was for the pig to go on at 9pm Saturday evening for over 18 hours of cooking.
Then at 3pm Saturday afternoon I get a call from my buddy Josh that the smoker was missing!
So aside from the fact that it really really royally blows to have someone jack your smoker. It doesn’t help that it’s compounded with the fact that I really needed to use it in 6 hours!!! The mission then was to find a smoker with the capacity to handle my porcine leviathan. I could have driven up to Bridgeport, CT to grab my monster trailer but the logistics just were not there. We did have one offer to borrow two PR60 hog smokers but they were not on trailers and weighed over 300lbs each. This would require us trying to lift and fit these smokers on the back of my truck. Hernia and possible roadside accident awaited us.
Then we got word that Matt Fisher, one of the biggest wigs in the NYC BBQ pantheon, was willing to lend us his large reverse-flow smoker.
So it was a mad rush to get to Staten Island to pick up this smoker and get it to Long Island City. It was already 6pm by the time we started rolling. My chief logistics guy, Matt, darn near gave me a heart attack getting there. You have never seen a quarter ton pickup truck weave thru traffic that fast.
There seemed to have been some miscommunication in what ball size the trailer hitch was supposed to use and the smoker actually came OFF THE TRUCK!!! Thank Jesus we actually chained it in otherwise we might have made the 8PM news. Heck that would have been the first newspaper report about me ever. “Giant smoker smashes into BMW on Hwy 287”.
So after indeed having an heart attack, we reattached the smoker and wrapped the trailer ball with every cord, string, paper clip we had on us. Keep in mind that we are on the freakin’ HIGHWAY!!
I’m a decently religious guy but I’m fairly confident I have never prayed so hard in my life the whole 35mph trip back to Queens. Every bump and rattle made me die just a little more inside. Ever been on adrenaline for 40mins straight? Yeah no fun. I was more wound up than a cat left at the dog pound.
So now 11:30pm we finally got the hog prepped and thrown on to the smoker. Because it wasn’t a Carolina style hog cooker we needed to cut the animal straight down the spine and put her on 2 tiers.
Reverse flow cooking isn’t my favorite for hog. Fantastic for almost every other BBQ cut. But beggars can’t be choosers right? The one issue was after 9 hours of cooking the ash build up was keeping me from holding temp the way I wanted to. Essentially all that ash was choking off the airflow to my coals. Removing the ash was painful as the metal expanded making it almost impossible to pull out. We had 3 guys get it out and then push it back in.
By 4pm Sunday afternoon the hog was done and I actually had a chance to do some artistic arranging of the animal as you see in the photos.
As our Carolina custom, we pulled the meat, chopped it up with some of the crispy skin and seasoned it with my vinegar pepper sauce. The one GREAT thing about heritage breed hogs is the fat. All the lovely rendered pig lipid was just gushing out as we pulled the swine. This is was helps balance out the vinegar and mustard sauces that the Carolinas are so well known for. The issue people have with that isn’t due to the sauce; it’s due to our lean produced modern pigs.
The crowd loved the BBQ especially one of my bigger fans whose birthday it was. You’ll see her and her boyfriend in the photos. I figured what a better birthday gift than a Hog Drumstick? Seems like everyone got a big chomp out of it.
A gentleman from South Carolina told me the pork reminded him of home. All the affirmation I needed.
So despite our harrowing journey to the goal, we hit the finish line. A shout out to my crew not the least being fellow blogger WDM, will be coming tomorrow. Despite working with a new smoker and an bigger animal than I have ever cooked, we were able to produce amazing BBQ. Lots of big name pitmasters in New York were on hand to sample my pork and offer moral support. It was an amazing night.
The guests of John Brown Smokehouse were MORE than generous in tossing money into a collection bucket to help me get a new smoker. We collected over $300 that evening. While I might have been impressed with the size of my massive heritage breed hog, the hearts of our guests were far larger.
See all the Event Photos HERE