Hello from the Fire Pit and Grilling Guru!

This is the Fire Pit and Grilling Guru Guide newsletter, from the Fire Pit and Grilling Guru website. Each issue brings you updates on what's new in the world of fire pits, grilling, barbecuing, and cooking with fire.

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If you have suggestions, questions, article requests, or comments, please contact me -- I love to hear from my visitors!

Contents of this issue of the Fire Pit and Grilling Guru Guide

  • What's New at the Fire Pit and Grilling Guru - New Articles
  • I've got recipes! - Check out some of my newly added recipes and some old favorites to be ready for this grilling season
  • Question from email: Cooking a Whole Pig

What's New at the Fire Pit and Grilling Guru

We are quickly moving from spring into summer and that means that grilling season is in full swing! I've already been firing up the ol' barbecue and fire pit on every chance I get, either just for a nice family evening in the backyard or for a big grill party with guests. You don't need any excuse to turn any day into a barbecue day. Enjoy the great weather and the great food!

If you haven't already, it's time to get your grill and fire pit out of storage or think about buying new ones. At the Fire Pit and Grilling Guru I've got scores of pages of information about how to pick out a perfect grill or fire pit to enjoy this summer and for many years. Once you've got them in working order, I've got lots of tips for cooking on a grill or fire pit.

I've been trying to add several great grill recipes so that you will be well armed with the best, most delicious, recipes possible to thrill your palate and impress your friends.

Here are some recent articles which I have posted to the Firepit and Grilling Guru:

All About Smoking Woods and How to Cook with Smoking Woods
We've all seen bags of mesquite and hickory but what is the best way to use them and are there other options out there for smoking food on your barbecue, grill or smoker? Find out all about different types of smoking woods here and how they can enhance your outdoor cooking! Once you know all about the different types of smoking woods and how they can enhance your food, the next page has information about how these aromatic woods should be used, either with a smoking box on a gas grill or directly on your hot charcoal.

The Stovetop Kitchen Grill
One of the easiest and most convenient ways to grill indoors is with a stovetop grill. This type of kitchen grill is built into your stove and many double as a griddle!

All About Wood Burning Grills and Fire Pit Grills
If you are an adventurous cook, a wood burning grill over a real wood fire is the ultimate in outdoor cooking. While cooking with firewood can be challenging, it is also rewarding, fun and delicious!

The Meat Thermometer
A meat thermometer takes the guess-work out of your grill and roast cooking. While there are many other tricks for figuring out the doneness of meats, a thermometer makes it easy.

Looking for an Outdoor Fireplace?
There are several types of outdoor fireplace, from wood-burning to gas, portable to permanent. Learn about the types of outdoor fireplaces here.

The Big Green Egg Grill: A Review
The Big Green Egg grill and smoker is a unique barbecue. There are not any others like it on the market. Read all about it and its features that make it the ultimate charcoal smoker grill in my opinion.

Check Our Newest Articles Page for More New Articles!
Our newest articles page lists new articles as soon as they are uploaded! Never miss an article by simply checking back frequently.

I've got recipes!

What good is your fancy new grill without some great recipes to cook on it? Here are a couple new adventurous dishes followed by some old classics:

Moroccan Grilled Quail Recipe
Quail can be prepared many ways but it seems to do amazingly well on a grill. This is a Moroccan inspired grilled quail recipe which is absolutely delicious!

Bulgogi: Mongolian Grill Beef Recipe
Bulgogi is a traditional Korean BBQ or Mongolian grill recipe which is made of succulent marinated beef which is grilled and served with a savory sauce.

Dry Rub BBQ Ribs Recipe
Nothing quite says summer barbecue like BBQ ribs! There are several different ways to cook grilled ribs and many different styles. This is one dry rub BBQ ribs recipe that I love! For more information about how to grill perfect barbecue ribs also see my All about BBQ Ribs page.

Grilled Oregano Lamb Chop Recipe
This lamb chop recipe is easy and delicious. Simple fresh herbs and wood smoke flavors make it irresistible!

Email Question: Cooking a Whole Pig

A visitor forwarded me this question:

I am interested in cooking a small pig or a couple of shoulders. I saw a TV show where they cooked it in a shallow brick pit, do you have any suggestions? I am having a party in 3 weeks and would to do something special. Thank you in advance for any advice you can give!

Thanks, Dale E

Hello Dale!

Thanks for contacting the Fire Pit and Grilling Guru!

I love cooking small pigs. I do have a couple suggestions that will hopefully get you on the way to a delicious party.

First of all, when grilling pork, I really recommend brining the pig or pork meat first. An example of an excellent brine is on my site with the recipe for apple cider brined pork tenderloin, but it works well with any cuts of pork or even a whole pig (I prefer smaller suckling pigs or piglets, whichever you want to call them). Simply multiply the amounts for a larger cut or a small pig. You'll need a large tub or other container to store it in overnight or longer. The concept of brining is that you marinate the meat in a high salt content solution which distributes throughout the meat, helping to retain water even when cooking. This gives a great flavor throughout the meat as well as helping to keep it moist and succulent. Pork can have a tendency to get dried out and lack flavor in the middle if it is not brined, marinated or injected because most modern pork is very lean, lacking the marbling of fat that a good cut of beef steak has which adds flavor and juiciness, for instance. If you do brine with a whole pig that has it skin on, you'll ned to make some slits through the skin down to the meat or even poke some holes in the meat with a skewer to give the brine access to the meat. Brine for longer the bigger the cut of meat. Some people advocate injecting the deep parts of meat with a brine solution or other flavoring agent but if you simply brine long enough all the meat should be nicely prepared.

Another recommendation I have for you is to use a rotisserie of some sort. While you can grill a decent size chunk of pork by indirect heat on a grill (Indirect Heat Grilling), you are somewhat limited to smaller cuts that would fit in the middle of your grill. A rotisserie allows you to slowly roast a large cut, even a whole pig, elevated over an open fire or wood embers in a fire pit. It can be a freestanding portable fire pit, a stone or brick fire pit or even just a hole dug in the ground. The only thing you need is some sort of rotisserie spit apparatus to hold the pig on a spit above your fire and to turn it. While you can make one of these for yourself if you are crafty, they are also available commercially. For example, the Sojoe fire pit has an optional rotisserie attachment which you can see on my Sojoe Fire Pit page . This is limited somewhat in size. It will easily accommodate a pork shoulder or butt but not a whole large pig. Unless you can find a small suckling pig (under around 15 lbs or so), you probably can't fit a whole hog on there. These are available from SpitJack if you go to the "Fire Pits" section. SpitJack is a great supplier of fire pit and fireplace cooking supplies.

There are also larger fire pits and whole hog rotisserie kits available which are great for cooking large animals outdoors in the summer. The whole hog rotisseries can be set above a fire pit in the ground and are big enough to accommodate a much larger whole pig.  These are also available from SpitJack if you go to the "Whole Hog" section (just below Fire Pits on the left hand navigation bar).

Finally, another way to cook large animals in a fire pit is in what is called a "mumu" which is a traditional Polynesian way of cooking. There are different styles but basically a pit is made in the ground and lined with rocks. A big fire is made and maintained to heat the rocks and surrounding earth. The animal is then wrapped in foil and/or leaves and lowered into the pit once the fire has burnt down to embers. It is then covered over. The retained heat in the rocks and earth slowly roast the meat. Some people keep a fire going above it to sustain the heat longer. This process can take a LONG time, at least a whole day to cook a whole pig. I don't have much info on this on my site yet but there is a good site posted by some people with a bunch of experience with this type of cooking at theSalmons.org . They have a bunch of tips, photos and even video of the process. I have no affiliation with them but like their site.

I hope this helps! Let me know if this was useful information to you and if you have any other questions. As I said, no matter how you do it, I definitely recommend brining, marinating or injecting aggressively to enhance the flavor and retaining moisture. A whole pig without one of these can be dry and lacking in flavor and rather disappointing after all the work you put into it.

Good luck and let me know how it all turns out!

Have a Reader Tip or a Question? Contact Me!

I love to hear from my readers and visitors. If you have a handy tip to share or questions or comments on anything related to fire pits and grill cooking, please contact me!

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