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One of the questions I get most often from interviewers is “what is your favorite wild animal dish?”

I always describe this one.

From the first moment I tasted it, it earned itself a special place in the crevices of my mind.

This is a whole wild hog, marinated for days and then smoked for many hours.

There is also bacon and apples and molasses involved.

We need to talk about this…

As my friend in Arkansas always says, what’s essential in this recipe is how it is killed, where it is shot, how it is dressed and cleaned. All of that needs to be done in an impeccable way.

Cleanliness is key.

Cleanliness can be helped with a good marinade that includes a lot of acid in the form of: vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, and orange juice in any combination. The size of your pig will vary and so you have to rely on intuition when it comes to how much to use. You can marinate for 1 to 8 days. Acid cleans it, but it also imparts flavor.

You can marinate it in an ice chest if your pig is up to about 80 pounds on the hoof or 45 pounds cleaned. Or you could even use a garbage bag.

The time it will smoke varies depending on the size as well. It could be six hours, it could be twelve.

The temperature shouldn’t go above 250 degrees F in your smoker… and it’s best to get the coals going before you put the hog in to create even radiant heat.

What smoker do you use?

My friends in Arkansas recommend The Good One cooker. I’ve never tasted anything from there that hasn’t been delicious.

What should you use to heat the smoker?

Well, you can do it with charcoal, but pecan wood is best if you have it in your neck of the woods. OR use a tree indigenous to your area. In the Southwest it’s mesquite, in Washington state it’s apple wood, in the Midwest it’s the hickory tree.

How do you know when it’s done?

The densest, deepest part needs to be 160 degrees F. Under the front shoulder is usually the coolest part.

But don’t forget the best part…when it is at about 140 degrees F, add a pan of apples to the bottom of the smoker. They will begin to steam from the bottom up.

Then blanket the back of the hog with strips of bacon and cover it with molasses, which will drip down on the apples. Be generous with the molasses and pour most of it where it will drip down into the pan of apples.

Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on the apples for good measure.

Then you serve it on a big cutting board. It is your piece de resistance.

People will love you forever. You and and your hog will have a permanent place in their minds and hearts.

Here is a pig from years past.

Here is a recipe for some killer apple juice smoked ribs.

Here are directions on how to skin a pig.

Here are directions on how to butcher a pig.

So in summary…

"Marinated and Smoked Whole Hog"

This is theory more than exact instruction. Go with your intuition and your hog
Prep Time18 hours
Cook Time6 hours
Total Time1 day
Servings: 15 - 50 servings


For the marinade:

  • 1 whole hog dressed, skinned, head and hooves removed
  • Worcestershire
  • Cajun salt seasoning
  • Onions peeled and cut in half
  • Garlic cloves peeled and crushed
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs
  • White vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Orange juice

For the cooking:

  • Molasses
  • Granny Smith apples cut in half
  • Smoked bacon strips
  • Cinnamon


  • Marinate for 1 to 8 days. A hog that is 80 pounds on the hoof, 45 pounds cleaned, will fit well in a standard cooler. The acid cleans the meat, which is important when cooking.
  • When ready to smoke, bring the wood coals to no more than 250 degrees F in a large smoker. Use a wood that is indigenous to your area. Pecan is great, so is mesquite, apple wood and hickory. Let the coals become nice and uniform so that you have even radiant heat.
  • Smoke the hog from 6 to 12 hours, depending on its size. Once the densest part of the hog reaches 140 degrees F, add a pan of apples to the bottom of the smoker, sprinkle with cinnamon, and let them steam up under the hog.
  • At this point, also blanket the back of the hog with bacon and pour on 2-4 cups of molasses. Be generous with it and pour most of it in the area where it will drip down into the pan of apples.
  • The hog is ready to serve when the densest, deepest part is 160 degrees F. Under the front shoulder is usually the coolest part to test. Serve immediately table side as your piece de resistance.


  • fxgeorges
    Posted December 23, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    It is really not as expensive as it sounds. A whole hog from a butcher is actually cheaper as there is not as much work that the butcher needs to do to sell it. Check with you local butcher for pricing, you can also do 1/2 of a hog if you do not have that many people. I am glad you enjoyed it, thank you.

  • newtsohn
    Posted December 24, 2010 at 3:24 am

    “…what’s essential in this recipe is how it is killed, where it is shot, how it is dressed and cleaned. All of that needs to be done in an impeccable way.” I’m closer to the nimrod end on a bodark stick than I am a man with any significant knowledge of cooking, food preparation and presentation. Not so the fellas G knows in Arkansas. They know well what to do with a properly killed creature. While I align myself entirely with them as to the initial set of considerations when the thought of killing and eating a hog has me salivating, to be frank I don’t know a fraction of what they do about preparation. What Georgia knows and teaches the rest of us so clearly and beautifully is quite marvelous, really, building on decades of experience of other fine cooks, like those guys. And isn’t it impressive that she doesn’t send someone else out to take a hog, field dress it and all the rest. No, she does that herself, learning from those who truly know that end of things, so she can then contribute her knowledge to preparing the beast. G’s friends in Arkansas and I are in utter concordance with one another. Where we differ (and it amounts to a compliment to them) is in my limited knowledge of top-flight food preparation; those fellas have it, and Georgia has it. I don’t. Her skills are hard-earned, credentialed and practiced. This Pellegrini gal is formidable in the breadth of her knowledge and creative instincts. Her pluck and willing attitude. Her willingness to learn, and her exquisitely thought through teaching of the reader by narrative and photographs.. Heck, she has skills and know-how that can transform the experience of the average schmuck like me who dispatches and consumes an honest pig or hog somewhere — the dang ‘thangs' are all over the planet, in a dazzling variety and huge numbers — thereby leveraging my experience on a
    fulcrum unknown to me heretofore.

    • Post Author
      Posted December 24, 2010 at 6:55 pm

      Thanks so much for your kind words. I'm sure you're a much better man in the kitchen than you give yourself credit for ; )

  • Rachel
    Posted December 28, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    Wow, I had no idea you could use your marinade to actually clean the pig, like you said with acidity – I mean it makes sense, I just never thought about it. Also, I love applewood smoked bacon, a whole hog smoked over applewood sounds divine!

    • Rick
      Posted January 19, 2013 at 11:13 am

      I marinaded mine in pinapple juice, orange juice and apple juice and then used a good rub and then smoked it and after that some of it went into a crock pot for bbq. The pig came out just right.

  • James
    Posted November 28, 2013 at 11:57 am

    One other way to cook a whole hog…….leaves plenty of time for fellowship and time around the fire. Hog needs to be less than 80 lbs live weight. Clean it, spread it flat (may have to break the ribs with a hatchet or similar tool), put a rod through the front shoulders and rear hams (to hold it flat), then wrap it in a clean pc of wire (meat will be tender and could fall off without the wire). Hang and cook over an open fire for one to two hours. Remove from the flames, checkerboard the muscles with a knife, and season with salt, pepper, etc. Put the wire back on and continue to cook until done. Usually takes all day. Alternate hanging from the top or bottom, rotate from front to back, and move away from the heat if the fire becomes too hot. Oak, hickory, pecan, or all of the above works. Try it sometime. Turkey cooked the same way is delicious too.

  • Anthe Gimenez
    Posted January 24, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    Hi Georgia!


    tHANKS again FOR YOUR hELP!


    • Georgia Pellegrini
      Posted January 24, 2015 at 7:52 pm

      Hi Anthe!
      I have a “big green egg.” But you could also use a Weber if you have low heat coals going and a pan of wood smoking chips. I don’t have experience with the Weber though but if it works for your turkey it will work for a wild hog, congrats to your husband! And yes, we’re working on putting together another Modern Pioneering workshop for the spring!

  • Anthe Gimenez
    Posted January 24, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    thanks Georgia for the info!! I can’t wait to use this recipe! and I will definitely come to the spring workshop!!

  • Brooks
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 1:35 pm


    What do you do about refrigerating the meat while marinating in the cooler? Does the marinade keep the meat from growing bacteria or do you add ice to the mixture?

    • Georgia Pellegrini
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 2:40 pm

      You either want to keep the cooler in a walk in cooler, or put ice in the cooler and the pig in a garbage bag then in the ice.

      • brooks
        Posted April 17, 2015 at 8:24 am


        I cooked it yesterday and it came out amazing. People were practically licking their plates. I cooked 3 30lb shoals in a large grill/smoker and it took exactly 6 hours. Thank you for taking the time and replying to me.

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