THE RECIPE BOX - A passion for roasting pigs
THE RECIPE BOX - A passion for roasting pigs
CUMBERLAND - What goes better with freshly roasted pork than cheesy potatoes and garlicky green beans? Well the side dish possibilities are endless when the whole pig sits on a grill ready to be carved.
Ron Giglio began to hone his skills roasting pigs after his daughter announced five years ago that she wanted her wedding to be a back yard pig roast. At the time they hired out and she was a bit disappointed because she envisioned the whole pig and this one came in pieces, he shared.
Born in Central Falls, Ron, a truck driver by trade, had spent some time working for his uncle driving in Louisville, Ky. He hauled racehorses across the country and lived right next door to Churchill Downs, the site of the Kentucky Derby.
Because barbecuing and smoking is very prevalent down in the south, this was where he started to learn from the best. "I'd watch and ask a lot of questions, he said.
He met his wife, Colleen, in Kentucky and they will be married for 30 years next year. The Cumberland couple has five grown children and nine grandchildren. The weekends are busy, the kids stop by and hope there will be some good eats. But his weekend hobby often takes him away delivering roasted pigs for special occasions, and functions.
His business, called Spit-N-Pig, is a part-time hobby where Ron keeps busy when not driving for M & G Trucking locally as his day job. He prefers a grilling method using charcoal and some hickory wood. It's not like work, he added about pig roasting.
"I do not like to rotisserie them," he shared. One bad experience put an end to that style of cookery early in his roasting career. He was cooking a 250-pound pig on the rotating skewer and during the night the guy on watch fell asleep.
"I woke up by coincidence and saw a bright light. The motor on the rotisserie unit had burned out and the fat drippings along with the heat of the motor caught fire," he said. Luckily there was a hose nearby and the pork meat was saved, although the skin was a bit darkened. He'll only cook on the grill top now as there are way too many variables the other way.
The first best place to start with pig roasting is to find a reputable pig farm. "I like Bellucci Pig Farm in Foster, Ron said. Berkshire grain fed, field-roaming pigs are most desirable. Before roasting in his traveling roaster grill, Ron must final wash and pat the pig dry. Then he'll rub it down with olive oil, inside and out. The next step is to add his Cajun dry rub seasoning.
The best way to tell when it is cooked is with a meat thermometer. "Low and slow with the lid closed," he said. A thermometer inserted into the thickest part - shoulder and butt - will read at 190 degrees when ready. A 100-pound pig will take more than 12 hours to cook. "It's like cooking a giant steak," said Ron, "sear it to lock in the juices and then cook low and slow."
Ron was one of seven children and his mom was a volume cook purely out of necessity. "I think I got my love of cooking for large crowds from her," Ron said.
He's the kind of guy who likes to be outdoors so he finds this very enjoyable. "I almost hate to charge for it, I have so much fun," he said smiling. As for the charge on average it's about $10 per person for just the pig, (pork meat.) You can add the star-to-finish sides for about $20 per person. There may be an additional delivery fee. He does weddings, parties, fundraisers and more. But you have to book ahead if it's a special occasion since main holidays go quickly, over a year or so in advance he said. July Fourth is booked out two years ahead.
"Hire or rent me or just my grill," he said. And sometimes you have to tell the kids, "Try it, it tastes like chicken!" But make no mistake the part he enjoys the most is the reaction and smiles when people eat his delicious barbecued pork.
Reach Ron at Spit-N-Pig at 401-369-3162.
Roasted Red Potatoes
1 to 1 & 1/2 lbs. red potatoes (about 15 small)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4-oz.)
1/2 cup Hellman's mayonnaise
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves, chopped
10 slices bacon, crisp, cooked and crumbled
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange potatoes on large baking sheet and bake 35 minutes or until tender. Let cool.
2. Cut each potato in half, then cut thin slices from bottom of each potato.
3. With small melon baller or spoon, scoop pulp from potatoes leaving 1/4-inch shell. Set aside shells and reserve pulp.
4. In medium bowl, lightly mash reserved pulp. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spoon or pipe potato filling into shells.
5. Arrange filled shells on baking sheet and broil 3 minutes or until golden and heated through.
Garlic Green Beans
1 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium head garlic, peeled and sliced
2 (14.5 oz.) cans green beans, drained
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter with the olive oil; add garlic and cook until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Stir in green beans and season with salt and pepper. Cook until beans are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.