Pig Roast and A Wedding Toast
If you’re looking for a show-stopping centerpiece for your party, nothing beats a whole roasted pig! Morgan & Monica recently featured one at their stunning outdoor wedding at Oak Tree Manor.
It was a perfect Texas spring day – bright, sunny and a cool breeze to keep all of the guests comfortable. That breeze also gently carried the tantalizing smell of roasting pork and hardwood charcoal across the lawn, building anticipation for the treat the wedding guests were about to enjoy.
While you can serve a roasted hog as your main course, this lovely couple opted to serve theirs during the post-ceremony cocktail hour. Two hundred guests enjoyed a variety of passed hors ‘d oeuvres and a hand-carved whole roasted pig; a set-up which allows your guests to could come and enjoy as much pork as they want. And that they did!
Presenting your guests with a whole roast pig is a dramatic statement and immediately creates a unique memory of the day. It just shouts, “Feast!” and really sets the tone for your entire celebration.
Creating a centerpiece like this can’t be done overnight. The process starts days in advance with ordering the right size hog based on your number of guests. Once it arrives, special brines and rubs are used to make the meat fall-off-the-bone tender and juicy, and the skin as crispy and flavorful as the best kettle chips you’ve ever eaten.
Making a Delicious Statement
Preparing your pig roast is a multi-day process that must be carefully monitored. The chef must precisely time his magical spells or the whole thing just falls apart before it even goes into the cooker. (Okay, maybe that last part is embellished just a bit, but you really do want a chef or caterer who’s done pig roast catering before.)
So, how do you serve an entire roasted pig? For Morgan & Monica’s wedding, the pig roast was the focal point for attendees as they left the ceremony area. At first, the savory scent grabbed their attention as they headed to the cocktail area immediately after the service. Smartly dressed servers greeted guests with Pancetta Crisps (there’s a theme here) topped with whipped herbed goat cheese, fresh pear and local honey, as well as Classic Deviled Eggs, and icy cold beverages. The lingering smell of charcoal lured them towards the back of the lawn to the roasted pork station.
Roasted pork can be served straight up with zero embellishments. The meat is that tender, and the skin is that crispy, but if you want to serve it with condiments and fresh rolls, try whole grain mustard, sliced sweet onions, sauerkraut, and dill pickle slices. No matter what you serve your pig with, some guests are just going to eat straight with their fingers.
While you can serve barbeque sauce with your pig, the meat is not smoked and does not take on the flavor of wood – just pure porky goodness. A La Carte uses La Caja China roasting boxes, and the charcoal goes on top. The roasting method is similar to a Hawaiian luau where the pig is buried in the ground to cook overnight, but much faster. Cultures throughout the world feature whole roasted pigs at celebrations, and mainland U.S. versions include both Southern and Western pig pickin’ parties. La Caja Chinas were invented in Cuba, and inspired by Chinese roast pork, but roast pork is a tradition from Italy all the way to the Philippines.
Why Choose a Roasting Box?
Your other option is spit roasting a hog. Spit roasted meat does take on the smoky flavor of your charcoal, but it also takes longer to cook and doesn’t cook as evenly as the box method, so your meat can dry out.
Roasted pigs are appropriate for many types of gatherings besides weddings: corporate events and picnics, graduations, and birthday parties immediately come to mind. Just be sure your party isn’t too formal – no one wants to be licking their fingers in their fanciest outfit.
Monica and Morgan’s pig featured an adobo rub and sour orange-garlic marinade, or “mojo”, so the meat had a faint, slightly citrusy scent, but your pig roast can have any spice that pairs well with pork: apples, rosemary, fennel, Dijon mustard, thyme or sage. You can certainly flavor your pig to match your theme.
The size of your party – and what else you’ll be serving – will determine the size pig you need, and they range in size from 20 to 100+ pounds. The one you see here was a little over 60 pounds, which was plenty for 200 guests to nibble on.
The guests arrived to a large pre-ceremony cheese, fruit and charcuterie platter, and then enjoyed the roasted pig station along with passed hors d’ oeuvres during the cocktail hour, followed by an early family-style dinner featuring fried chicken and more pork, southern sides, mini biscuits & hot cornbread. To end the reception on a sweet note, there was a gorgeous buttercream wedding cake along with an interactive build-your-own s’mores station.
The Power of Roasted Pork
The sight of a whole roasted pig can be a bit startling to some, and there was one particular guest that wasn’t shy in saying how she felt. This opinionated young lady, probably 11 or 12 years old, was not too happy about seeing her pork presented in such a “natural” way. She gave the chef a hard time as her friends proceeded to dig into the juicy, fork-tender meat served as pork sliders on Hawaiian rolls. Eventually, she and her posse moved along to play Corn Hole while the adults enjoyed their cocktails and pork.
About half an hour later our young friend was back at the pig station; Hawaiian roll in hand. Ribbing her a bit, the chef said “I thought you were upset about the pig?”, and with perfect deadpan delivery, she answered “I tried it, I liked it, now get over it and give me some.” She followed with a big smile and outstretched roll, ready to have the tender pork piled on it. Sometimes even the most critical guest can be won over by the power of pork. Congratulations to Monica & Morgan, and their unforgettable roast pig!
The best photos are courtesy of Erin Anderson Photo.