Recreating a Historical Dinner at Boggy Creek Farm – Hog Roast

Authentic Outdoor Pig Roast for a Special Occasion

by Tink Pinkard

To date, I can safely say I’ve done a lot of roasts.  31 in 2013 alone, and more projected for each coming year.  I’ve had the pleasure of roasting a variety of animals, including redfish, goat, antelope, nilgai, lamb, and of course, plenty of pigs.  Pigs seem to be one of the most popular creatures to grace my pit, and admittedly, one of my favorite things to prepare.  I generally roast one whole animal, and the size varies anywhere from 25 pounds to 100 on average.

One of my most memorable roasts had to have been the time I was asked to roast two, 250 pound pigs for a dinner for Foodways Texas.  While not my first time to roast 2 animals, this was to date the largest roast I have done! It was for such an interesting event, though, so how could I say no?  Foodways Texas approached a member of the Homegrown Revival team, of which I am a member, and asked us to participate in the re-creation of a dinner at Boggy Creek Farm.  This was a dinner that Sam Houston had attended, and they wanted to incorporate food that would have been similar to what had been served during the 1840’s when the original dinner was held.  Sonya Cote spent a year researching to come up with a menu that may have imitated what Mr. Houston and guests would have eaten during that time, as well as a history of the property itself, which is currently Boggy Creek Farm.  Needless to say, all of this was very exciting, and slightly intimidating, but I knew it would come out great!

Days before the event, the animals arrived, but not in the whole carcass condition that I was used to.  Due to their size, they couldn’t have been transported whole, so they were already broken down into thirds, or what is known as the “primal cuts.”  This didn’t present a problem, per say, it was just different than what I normally worked with.  The beauty of working with a whole animal is that it tends to stay together better on my Cuban style grill, and doesn’t move around as much when I flip it.  I can maintain a fairly constant temperature with the coals, and whole animals maintain a more consistent internal temperature, which leads to succulent servings when they hit the plate.  Nevertheless, I was confident in my abilities to make these cuts just as delicious as if they were one whole piece! It simply meant that I would have to pay extra attention to the fire, as that’s the key to the “whole roast” operation.  The fact that they were split actually helped to soak them in brine, as I don’t own a cooler than would’ve held 500 pounds of pork at once! I seasoned as I normally would, and placed the hogs in a brine for a couple of days.

Fire Pits for Outdoor Cooking

The day of the event I arrived well before sunrise to prepare the roasting pits and start the fire.  I began by building two pits and starting a fire outside of them so that I had a good coal base to work with.  Normally, this would be a one man operation, but thankfully, I had the help of my friends and fellow HGR team members, Charles and David Barrow.  Good thing, as flipping 250 pounds of pork at one time is not an easy task!  Once I had the fires built and the pigs on, I got a chance to look around at the farm in the early morning light.

Boggy Creek Farm is a place that I’ve had many opportunities to visit before, as well as roast at for different events.  It’s a beautiful oasis in the middle of a city, and as you’re watching chickens scratch around the yard and people milling about gathering produce and flowers, you forget for a moment that you’re smack dab in the middle of a city and don’t see anything but the beauty of the farm.  Arriving early, I watched as workers picked produce, flowers and gathered eggs to sell at the farm stand market to be held later that morning.  I put the pigs on the outdoor pits and began my day prepping for the evening dinner.  Later in the morning, the first patrons of the market arrived, and before I knew it, it was bustling with people to buy produce, as well as stopping by the pits and asking about the catering event.  I had a great time talking to people and answering their questions about the hogs, the pits, the farm and the dinner that would happen later that evening.

Farm to Table Feast

After the market closed in the early afternoon, the farm was suddenly transformed from bustling market to beautiful event space in no time! Tables were brought in and covered in linens.  Flowers were placed on them, along with silverware and dishes, and all the while I was manning the pigs, adding coals and keeping a constant fire going so as to have a good supply.  The pigs were reaching their perfect temperature, and the color on them was the mahogany color I strive for, so I knew we were getting close to dinner time.

All at once, people began to arrive, and the “pigaratzi” began taking pictures with any devise they had available.  After the pictures, they peppered me with questions.  I got to tell them about where the pigs came from, how they were raised, their heritage breed, how they were prepared, and the kinds of wood I used to cook them with.  It’s always interesting to watch people as they just sit and watch the animals cook.  This style of cooking is usually a first for most, which makes it all the more enjoyable for me to present them with that experience.

My favorite part of any roast is when the animals are off the pit, well rested and the feast begins! Due to the number of people we served, I strayed from my usual style of setting a fork and a knife in front of folks and watching as they begin to dismantle the food bit by bit.  This time, with the help of the wonderful Homegrown Revival crew, we loaded up platters heaping with pork and served it family style on each table.  It was accompanied by the delicious creations of Chef Cote, and people loved it!  All the empty plates that were picked up from tables let me know that the night was a success, and my day was coming to a close.

This was one my favorite whole roasts that I’ve done.  Spending the day at Boggy Creek Farm with farming legends Larry and Carol Ann made a 14 hour day seem like a breeze.  I watched their beautiful farm wake up first thing in the morning, turn into a farm stand in the afternoon, and transform into a gorgeous event space by evening.  Holding a reenactment of a dinner that occurred on that same spot some 150 years earlier,  this roast was definitely one for the books!

Whole Roast can create unique dinners for your special occasion. Re-Create a famous dinner or a first time never to be repeated event, you and your guests will create a memorable roast to table meal. Contact Tink and crew!


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