NATIONAL WHOLE HOG BARBECUE DAY | Third Saturday in October
The third Saturday in October is National Whole Hog Barbecue Day and we invite you to indulge in one of the South’s most revered traditions.
Wood smoke and smoldering charcoal are a sign of the season. Traditionally cooked over wood and charcoal, whole hog barbecue uses the whole pig, everything from the nose to the tail. Every year, pitmasters and barbecue lovers from all over the Southeast celebrate National Whole Hog Barbecue Day during the North Carolina State Fair in October.
The tradition of whole hog barbecue started in North Carolina and dates back over 350 years to the first settlers in the region. Although barbecue lovers may disagree on the best type of barbecue sauce for their pork, everyone agrees that whole hog barbecue is what every pitmaster aspires to.
Smoking a whole hog takes anywhere between 10 to 12 hours and is fairly easy to do. As long as you have a pit and charcoal, you can create this delicious Southern delight. Whether you have a homemade brick pit or a custom made rotisserie pit, the trick is to keep the cooking temperature steady and low. However you decide to smoke your hog, extra help is always appreciated to do the heavy lifting and maintaining the cooking process.
Seasoned Hog Tips
Seasoning your whole hog depends on your preferences. Spice rubs are popular choice. A simple combination of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and chili powder should do the trick. Many pitmasters use plenty of sauce throughout the cooking process to keep the hog moist and juicy. The more the better!
What is a pitmaster? Technically, a pitmaster is someone who oversees cooking done in a barbecue pit. But, a pitmaster is more than that. A pitmaster is considered an expert in the field of barbecue. They control the temperature, along with the flavor output of the meat. Most importantly, they make sure the barbecue is kept tender during the cooking process.
- Kiki Longo
- Max Lavoie
- Aaron Franklin
- Myron Mixon
- Rob Rainford
- Ted Reader
- Steven Raichlen
- Gather your recipes and get cooking!
- Host a whole hog barbecue or attend a festival where you can taste some of the best in the country.
- Give a shout-out to the best pitmasters out there.
- Let us know if you like your barbecue sauce sweet, spicy, or both?
- Attend a whole hog barbecue competition.
- Attend the North Carolina State Fair.
- Share and post your #WholeHogBarbecueDay celebrations on social media.
NATIONAL WHOLE HOG BARBECUE DAY HISTORY
In 2022,The Pit Authentic Barbecue in Raleigh, North Carolina, founded National Whole Hog Barbecue Day to celebrate the traditions and history associated with whole hog barbecue. Each year during the third Saturday in October, we recommend everyone find some place to host or attend a whole hog barbecue celebration.
Beginning in 1985, The Pit Authentic Barbecue organized and sanctioned the first Whole Hog Barbecue Championship in Raleigh at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. It has become the culmination of the Whole Hog Barbecue Series local competitions across the region. The chefs who qualify in the local events come together to duke it out for the title of Champion. Since 1985, the third Saturday in October has been a celebration of Whole Hog Barbecue.
Many people across the country consider grilling to be barbecue. However, if you ask any North Carolinians, barbecue has always been referred to as pork. Since the early settlers in the 1500s, pork has been the king of barbecue. In fact, there is historical evidence showing natives of the West Indies roasting meat over wood coals. It wasn’t until the 1600s the technique of cooking barbecue became adapted by anyone in the South.
The Great Debate
There is a great debate between people about barbecue sauce. The eastern parts of North Carolina lean towards a clear sauce made with vinegar, salt and pepper. The western parts of North Carolina add sugar and ketchup to their sauce recipes, making it a red sauce.
Developed in the late 1600s, vinegar sauce was born out of convenience. Colonists would use ingredients available to them to make their barbecue sauce. Unfortunately, tomatoes were thought to be poisonous so using them was not an option. It wasn’t until around the early 1800s tomatoes were finally considered to be safe to eat.
In the early 1800s, cooks in western parts of North Carolina began adding tomato catsup and and brown sugar to the traditional vinegar recipe. In addition, unlike their eastern North Carolina neighbors, they would cook only the shoulder of the hog and not the entire hog.
Today, depending on where you live in North Carolina, barbecue sauce changes slightly. There could possibly be hundred or thousands of sauces with different spices. Subtle differences in sauce occur about every 50 miles within the state. Interestingly, North Carolina also has a debate on how you should eat barbecue. Some like it chopped, while others like it shredded.
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