Leading on from Cooking a Pig Bronze Age Style Parts 1 and 2 we have stepped up a gear and moved onto pork. Our previous attempt (Part 2) had involved a quarter of a lamb which had been slightly over-cooked. In Part 3 we intended to attempt to reduce the intensity of heat and the cooking time in order to achieve pig-cooking perfection!
The Part 3 cooking team consisted of Damian Shiels, Colm Moloney and Louise Baker. We re-used the Part 2 pit in order to avoid excessive energy consumption – a real consideration in the Bronze Age. Again a fire was lit in the base of the pit and stones and charcoal were added – we re-used the stones from the earlier firing of the pit. These are now starting to crack from repeated heating which fits with the archaeological evidence. We used two shoulder joints of pork complete with skin. The skin was scored and seasoned and both joints wrapped in foil before adding to the fire.
We sealed the pit with soil – this time we added an extra couple of inches of soil
for insulation against the surface fire. We then built a fire on the surface of
the backfilled pit. Our fire was less intense than the Part 2 fire. We allowed
two and a half hours cooking time. Yams were added to the embers of the surface
fire for about half an hour.
Result: Very rare (which is not so good for pork!). The core temperature of the meat was only 1400 as opposed to the 1700we achieved with the Part 2 roasting pit. We underestimated the time required and also we were too conservative with the intensity of the surface fire.
With a pit roast it is not so easy to `pop it back in´ if it is under-cooked so it is essential to get both the timing and the intensity of heat correct. The other point to consider when pit roasting pork is crackling. Our next attempt will involve exposing the pig skin to open flames prior to adding the meat to the pit. You simply can´t have pork without crackling!
What next for the Pit Roast Research Committee? The obvious next step is to roast an entire suckling pig. Once we have sourced one, we will go for it. Watch this space.