Hog Roast

20/07/2016

Introducing Allan Hacking: butcher, farmer and hog roast specialist.

If there's one thing we have in common at Flourish, besides our talent for matching chefs with brilliant agency chef and permanent chef jobs, it's our love for all things foodie! Just take a look at our social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – where we share not only our latest vacancies, but stories we love from the world of catering, hospitality and simply good food!

From lavish Michelin-starred restaurants to humble street food stalls, we've sampled delicious meals cooked by talented chefs in an array of diverse settings. We're hoping to feature as many as we can on our blog, and to that effect, may we now introduce you to Allan Hacking; butcher, farmer and hog roast specialist.


From Piglets to Pork

Allan bought his first litter of pigs at the age of 13, feeding them for free on the swill from the local village pub where he washed up at weekends. He sold them within just 12 weeks, starting a career of pig rearing and sales that meant, by the age of 23, he had 875 pigs!

All that experience means Allan, in his own words, “knows a good grunter” and never has a pig “squeal on him!


Tips for a Heavenly Hog Roast

One of the most significant parts of Allan's butchery business is his traditional hog roast and barbecue service – a mainstay of weddings, christenings, birthdays, corporate events, fairs and more around his native Clitheroe in Lancashire. Various packages are available, including the hire of the roasting equipment so you can give it a go yourself. Here are his top tips for a crack(l)ing result, every time:

1. Use fresh, local meat
Wherever possible, buy from local farmers. The main advantage is that the animal is caused less stress and, therefore the quality of the meat will be better. Animals like to stay in an environment they are accustomed to, and the farmer will also be able to tell you the history of the animal. Costs can be negotiated for quality, fresh produce, which in turn supports the local community and builds lasting, friendly customer relationships.

2. Make sure you have enough – meat and time!
Animals lose a quarter of their body weight when slaughtered. This is important to bear in mind when deciding which weight you will require to cater for your guests, and the corresponding cooking time. As a guide, Allan would suggest:

50 people

30kg

4 – 4 ½ hours

100 people

50kg

6 – 6 ½ hours

150 people

60kg

7+ hours

200+ people

2 pigs

By weight – see above

 The bigger the pig, the harder it will be to cook through. Never rush; give yourself plenty of time.

3. Cook at the correct temperature
Use a temperature gauge and cook at a steady 64° to ensure the pork remains moist.

4. Make sure the meat is cooked through
A good indication that the meat is ready is when the hocks (legs) appear to be falling off.

5. Shelter the hog roast from the elements
It is particularly important to protect the spit from the wind, as gusts can divert heat away from the pig.


The best wood to burn for hog roasts and barbecues

Allan prefers to use charcoal rather than gas as it creates the correct ambiance and excellent flavour with minimal fuss. He uses hardwood from South America and South Africa as it lasts longer than softwood, is cost effective and cooks more evenly. Pile the charcoal under the legs and shoulders as there is more meat in these areas, with less in the middle.

In the last 30 minutes, hickory chips can be added to create greater depth of flavour.


Keep your flavours simple

Flavour options are, of course, up to the individual chef but Allan would recommend – particularly when cooking for a lot of people – that simplicity is best; the pork is tasty enough as it is! If you're looking for a simple, subtle and practical addition, however, you might consider sea salt, garlic, or an olive oil paste. 


Serving

Place grids over a bain marie and carve into small pieces, taking care to separate the crackling.


10 things I bet you didn’t know about pigs

1. Pigs eat anything.
2. They are full of personality and character.
3. You can train a pig.
4. 12 pigs were required to shoot the film Babe as they grew so fast.
5. Pigs are very clean animals.
6. Pigs never sweat - they wallow in mud to cool down.
7. Pigs bite!
8. Pigs must be kept with their families or they will fight.
9. Pigs with curly tails are happy!
10. If you see a pig with a straight tail, run like the clappers!

 There are many breeds of pigs. Here's Allan’s favourite; a large white cross, preferably with a curly tail!