To build a fire for a pig roast, you’ll need to start a couple hours in advance of when you plan to begin to roast the pig. You could go three ways with this portion: build a fire out of purely coal-coals; build a fire from wood; or a combination thereof. We decided to do a combination.
You’ll need a large, flat, dry, and not too windy place to build your fire. Our planned location had a couple inches of water in it, so I laid down a bunch of flat rocks, so we could build the fire on top of them. The idea is to get the fire burning till all you’re left with is coals. If you have actual flames , the flames will burn your pig, and that’s bad. Since you’re trying to cook through a foot or so of meat, low heat and slow cooking — “low and slow” — are the words of the game.
Here’s how our pit looked:
Then we hit our first snag/disaster. It was a snag-zaster. The rocks I used to raise the pit above the water were, in fact, sandstone, which explode when heated.
Whoops! I really should have known, especially since one of my friends asked, “Hey Bob, those aren’t exploding rocks that you put under there, are they?”
“Nope,” I answered confidently, before unconfidently adding, “Uh, yeah, no. I don’t think so. . . “
Then the rocks started exploding. I didn’t think it was too bad at first. After eight or nine exploded sending hot rock-shrapnel through the yard, a thorough dousing was in order . . .
then some rock removal . . .
Eventually, we figured that we would build the larger, flaming fire on one side of the pit, and then place the pig across the other side of the pit. When the coal-coals and wood-coals stopped flaming, we’d rake them to the pig-side of the pit. We placed an oven thermometer alongside the pig, so we knew when the fire got too hot or too cold (we sought to roast it at about 275F).