A REDNECK PIG ROAST

Pig Roast Folks
Left to right, that's Russell Flowers, the bar owner and pig roast host; Ellis "Shoat" Evans, who generously provided the pig; Sam Tidwell, roasting assistant; and, sitting in his truck, pig roast expert Charley McBroom, called "Cholly Mac" by his friends. (For more on Cholly Mac, see my cathead biscuit recipe.)
Anthropologists see events such as fish fries and pig roasts as ways for a culture to redistribute wealth/energy/food resources. Rednecks, my culture, see pig roasts as a way to relieve wintertime blahs and, for some rednecks, an excuse to start drinking whiskey at daybreak. The normal procedure is to start roasting the pig at the crack of dawn. The party actually starts the day before with the killing and cleaning of the pig. (Watch the juke joint for a photo essay on that process.) The fellow throwing the pig roast calls a couple of buddies, and they spend the afternoon killing and cleaning the pig.

The next morning and usually with a hangover, they build a fire, wrap the pig in fence wire, and then hang the pig beside the fire. Since they have nothing to do the rest of the day but stand beside the fire and season the pig and turn it every once in a while and, since it's a cold winter morning, that's a damn good time to pass around a bottle of Old Stumphole 90 proof sour mash. At lots of pig roasts, the fellows who started the pig to roasting are sound asleep at eating time.

The best place to have a pig roast is anyplace but your place. Back before hunting clubs posted all the North Louisiana hill-country woods, we usually had them out in the woods somewhere. We would roast a pig 5 miles down a dirt road, and along about eating time, near dark, we'd have 50+ people gathered around the fire. Word-of-mouth spreads news fast–"Hey, ole so ‘n' so is havin' a pig roast down the dirt road on the other side of the Low Water Bridge. You know where that's at?"

"Yeah, I know where that's at. That's the concrete bridge, not the wood bridge. Who's comin'?"

"Ever' body. Gonna be wimen ever' where."

That brings up an unwritten redneck cultural law. Everybody is invited to a pig roast. All you Yankees and foreign tourists take note. If you're driving through North Louisiana redneck country and you notice what appears to be a bunch of drunks gathered around a fire over which hangs what appears to be a burnt pig, stop your car or tourist bus and join the party. You're welcome. Just bring your own beer and whiskey. And don't say anything bad about George Jones or Hank Williams.

It's time to take a look at a redneck pig roast. This one took place on Super Sunday, January 31, 1999. It was held beside Sally Ann's Tavern in my hometown of Tullos, Louisiana. Before we go to the pig roast, let me state another unwritten redneck cultural law. Well, it ain't really a law. It's just something I've always heard. Folks say that the very best pig for a pig roast is a stolen pig. They say it tastes much better. I, of course, know nothing about that.

Cholly Mac did the cooking, and we did what he told us to do. Instead of roasting the pig in a rack beside or over the fire, he used a metal, oven-like devise called a "Cajun microwave" and belonging to Shoat Evans. The fire is built on top of the lid.

"It uses about 1/10 the wood a rack uses," Cholly Mac informed me.

Its dimensions are approximately 2 feet X 3 feet X 1 foot. For scale, notice the 2 X 6 inch boards on the ground.

The bottom is metal, and there is an expanded metal grill about 1 inch from the bottom. The pig, cut in half down the backbone, rests on that grill. A hole cut in a bottom corner allows grease to drain into a hole dug beside the same corner, as you can see. A shade tree welder could build a Cajun microwave like this for about $100. Shoat wishes he had built it about a foot longer so it would hold a larger pig. Keep that in mind when talking to your welder.

Shoat said it works best buried in a shallow hole, but I think it would work just fine on top of the ground. Might take a few more sticks of wood and maybe another hour to cook the pig. Cholly Mac and Sam started this pig cooking at exactly 8 am and stopped it at 2 pm–6 hours. On a rack, it would take about 10 hours.

The above sequence of 3 photos shows how to remove the lid in order to service the pig. Just stick 2 X 4s through the lid's handles and pick up the lid, fire and all. Rest it on 2 X 6s or something. It's easy.

Cajun Microwave #1

Caju Microwave #2

Cajun Micrewave #3

Here we see Cholly Mac turning over the pig. "We check 'em about every 30 minutes," he said. "Flip 'em over an' sauce 'em down."

At the 1 pm flipping, the meat fell off the bones. Done.

Turning over the pig

Here's Cholly Mac saucing it down, sprinkling his homemade sauce on the meat.

"What's in it?" I asked him.

"It's about half water an' half vinegar," he told me. "Got a little soy sauce in it an' a little cherry syrup in it. Gives it a sweet taste. Got a little Log Cabin syrup in it too. Last time we had a little tequila in it an' some beer. Ain't no measuring nothin'. Just put it in there an' swirl it around."

Saucing the pig

This is a new step in the pig roast process, at least for me. Notice the jar of Cajun sauce beneath Cholly Mac's right knee. He's using a large hypodermic needle and injecting that sauce into the meat. He did that about every 2 hours.

Cholly Mac wanted me to tell y'all that his pig roasting equipment includes 3 cases of beer, iced down. Long-neck Budweiser preferred. Y'all have been told.

Injecting sauce
Here's Cholly Mac's seasonings lined up across the bed of his truck. The jug contains his homemade sauce. The green and white can contains "Tony Chachere's famous Creole Seasoning." Cholly Mac mixed about 2 tablespoons of it with the injectable sauce. Every good cook in Louisiana owns a can of this wonderful stuff. You can get it by snail-mail from:

Creole Foods
PO Box 1687
Opelousas, Louisiana 70571

Or call 1-800-551-9066

Or visit their web site: WWW.CAJUNSPICE.COM (Be sure to fill out the freebie form.)

The jar of injectable sauce and the hypodermic needles came from:

Cajun Injector
PO Box 67
Clinton, Louisiana 70722

Or call 1-800-221-8060

Cajun Sauce

Cajun Sauce Closeup

Charley McBroom and friendsThe fire was smoking and the pig was roasting. That's the time for male bonding–known in redneck country as talkin' trash an' passin' gas. Sam, the skirt chaser of the bunch–that's him in the foreground through Cholly Mac's window–said, "Y'all oughta been up the road [to the bars in Caldwell Parish] the other night. Man, there was a little blond up there that was something!"

I said, "What was she doin' in a bar up there if she was so good lookin'?"

"Hell if I know," Sam said. "But I'll tell y'all what–I think she was a lesbian."

"Why?" Cholly Mac asked. "Because she wouldn't have anything to do with you?" Cholly Mac looked at me and grinned, and we both started laughing.

"F__k you, Cholly Mac!" Sam exclaimed.

"Nope, you ain't built right," Cholly Mac informed him.

"Hey, Sam," I said. "Maybe she'll let you watch."

He stated, "Yep. She shore might."

Cholly Mac solemnly stated, "Not in a million years."

"F__k you, Cholly Mac!"

We basked in the sun a while and watched the fire smoke. Sam sipped beer, and Cholly Mac sipped a soft drink. Sam, to no one in particular, said, "This is what ole Hank Williams Junior was a-talkin' about–all my rowdy friends are comin' over. We got beer on ice an' a hog in the ground."

"Don't get no better than that," I informed them all.

Cholly Mac looked down at the ground, muddy from the recent heavy rains. "We ought to build a shed," he informed us all.

"Hell, Cholly Mac," I said, "somebody'd make us quit spittin' tobacco juice an' throwin' cigarette butts and stuff on the ground."

"Hell no, Cholly Mac," Sam said, "they'd build a concrete floor an' we'd have to mop the damned thing."

That quickly ended that discussion. Along about then, I said, "Cholly Mac, let me get a closeup picture of you so it'll show that hat."

Cholly MacAbout the time the camera snapped the photo on the right, I heard Sam say, "He had his picture took about midnight last night–courtesy of the LaSalle Parish Sheriff's Office."

"F__k you, Sam!" Cholly Mac said.

The letters on Cholly Mac's hat read:

MOM'S BIKER BAR
LONGVIEW, TEXAS

For a look at Mom's 1999 roast, click here.
During the second weekend of November of every year, Mom's Biker Bar hosts a huge pig roast party. Cholly Mac and Sam and some other local guys cook the pigs. "It gets bigger by 2 hogs every year," Cholly Mac said. "We cooked 12 hogs in ‘98, an' this year we'll cook 14."

"That's a pile of pigs," I said. "How many people are there?"

"Thousands!" Sam spoke up. "People all over the woods camped out in tents. Big tents. Little tents. Scattered everywhere under them pine saplin's. And women? Man! You ain't never seen women like that."

"Oh, yes, I have."

"No you ain't. Not like that. Man, some of them women come on their own Harleys! I ain't kiddin' you."

"Sam, that's just what you need–a Harley woman."

"She'd straighten yore ass out!" Cholly Mac said.

But sooner or later all rowdy friends settle down and get straightened out, and all good things come to an end. In our case, the pig got cooked. Cholly Mac kicked the fire off the Cajun microwave's lid, then removed the lid. They placed the pig meat, falling apart, into an ice chest and carried it inside the bar. He pulled the microwave from the ground and washed it out and off with a water hose.

Inside the Cajun microwaveIn this photo of the inside of the Cajun microwave, notice the pieces of angle iron welded along the edges and in the center of the bottom. They keep the expanded metal grill about an inch from the bottom. As I said earlier, a shade tree welder could easily build one of these microwaves.

Click here to look at other kinds of pig roasters.

I went inside the bar and started sipping a beer. Sally Ann and her friends had prepared huge pans of baked bar-b-que beans and potato salad. The meal, someone told me, would be served at the Super Bowl halftime, about 3 hours in the future. I plopped down on a stool at the bar, a heaping platter of cheese, olives and crackers in front of me and a pretty girl on the stool beside me.

Dancing BartenderThe jukebox played, mostly country. Here's Mona Sharp, the bartender, dancing with a customer. As I said elsewhere in the juke joint about another honky tonk bartender, God has a special place in heaven for good bartenders like Mona.

Believe it or not, they're doing the jitterbug to Little Milton singing "Shake Rattle and Roll."

The Super Bowl finally started, and off went the jukebox. I moved down the bar and nearer the TV. Some folks from Winn Parish, west of Tullos on flooded U.S. Highway 84, left with their hands filled with foil-covered plates. They had braved rushing flood waters in boats, and they had no desire to try the same trip after dark.

A few minutes before dark, someone came in and informed us that the Louisiana Department of Highways intended to close U.S. Highway 165 south of Tullos at dark and because of its imminent flooding. Soon, out the door went folks from south of Tullos, their hands filled with foil-covered plates.

Super Bowl halftime finally came. Someone said, "Hey, Junior, you better get something to eat while there's something left."

I went in Sally Ann's Tavern's kitchen, got a plate, then with my mouth watering in anticipation, opened the lid of the ice chest and peered inside. Beneath a wafting and yummy aroma, the ice chest, to my sorrow, contained only picked-clean bones and scraps of charred skin.

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