And I Can Cook, Too

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

March 4, 2006

Some Pig!
At 10 am, Kenny, Kim, and I marched out our doors and straight to the pig. It was Luau day! 75 people were expected at 6pm, all anticipating roast pig. In addition to the pig, I was making traditional luau fare: lomi-lomi salmon, poi, chicken long rice, and scallop luau. We were going to have a feast. First priority, however, was the pig.

After draining the last of the ice water and strongly advising Kim to clean her tub, Kenny and I wrapped the pig in a large beach towel and lugged it back down the stairs. There awaited the above ground imu. The directions were simple, season the pig, place him in the vice-like rack cut side up, and put the cover on the imu. Charcoal would go on a grid on top of the cover, and the convection heat would cook the pig. After a brief “how much salt is too much” conversation with Kenny, (there is no such thing), we seasoned the pig with pepper, liquid smoke, and a Hawaiian Kiawe-Wood Smoked Salt Blend. We were ready to start the fire.

Sixteen pounds of charcoal got the fire started. The directions called for an additional 16 pounds every hour for the next two hours. The directions also called for a 100 lb pig, split. We had a split of pig that weighed 100 lbs. In other words, our pig was as thick as a 200 lb pig. In addition to the facts, I also had the long held belief that directions were meant to be ignored. Instead of 16 lbs of charcoal every hour, I added 20 lbs of charcoal every time I felt like it. While the pig was cooking, I got busy on the side dishes.

After 4 hours, Walter wandered over and offered to help check the pig. We carefully lifting the hot coals, and in went the thermometer. The temperature confirmed that the pig needed more time. An hour later, we checked again. It was time to turn the pig and roast the crackling. We turned, we re-coaled, and we waited.

As the guests streamed in, pig excitement grew. None of us had attempted cooking 100 lbs of pig before! At 6:00, the crackling had crackled to perfection, and the pig, at last, was done. As it rested, Kim led a steady stream of admirers by to “ooh”, “ahh”, and snap photos. Finally, it was time to carve.

I carved off the leg while Walter tackled the ribs. As we carved, guests couldn’t resist sneaking up behind us and stealing little pieces of pig. No amount of waving our dangerously sharp Shun knives could stop them. As a diversionary tactic, Walter cleverly re-focused his attention to the fabulously crispy crackling. Soon, a platter was piled high. The men were separated from the boys as Kim made the offerings. They either knew what, and how incredible, crackling was, or they didn’t, and didn’t want to. No time was spent trying to sway the nay-sayers. All the more for us men.

Late into the evening the luau raged on. People munched on pig, slurped chicken long rice, and scooped poi and lomi-lomi salmon with their fingers. The wine, of course, flowed. And with it, inhibitions.

Mark the Mad Frenchman insulted Lysa so badly she slapped the bowl of his wineglass clean off, leaving him with just the stem, and madder still. Not to be outdone, Kim quickly tossed her glass on the floor, creating a second spill and more excitement in the exact same location. Lysa countered by throwing her wine at Vicki’s white pants, forcing Vicki to make the attractive fashion statement of wearing one pant leg down and one rolled above her knee. Just as people were suggested re-lighting the coals, charring the carcass, and tossing it in the bay, I decided my work here was done.

It was a very fun party. And it sure was some pig.

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