After completing his defense on Thursday, Dr. Gumby found he had plenty of time on Friday to gather wood, collect rocks and dig a big hole in the backyard. Large rocks were put on the bottom of the hole with smaller ones lining the sides. Around 11pm a fire was lit and kept burning for a few hours.
We packed the pig with rosemary, shallots, oregano and lemon grass (all things growing in the yard). When we were packing it, it seemed like the rosemary would be overpowering (it was overpowering in the kitchen), but it ended up being pretty subtle. I'd say you can't go overboard stuffing a whole pig with fragrant spices (garlic, rosemary, etc.) A petite apple was place in her mouth which later turned into applesauce. We used ~20 banana leaves to completely wrap the body and further wrapped the package with burlap to make a secure bundle with a chicken wire support frame on the outside. The chicken wire had been briefly placed in the fire to remove the anodized coating.
By 3am the fire had mostly burned down to glowing embers, very hot glowing embers. Wet grape vines were thrown in to provide an insulating barrier between the hot embers and the pig so the bundle would not burst into fire when placed in the pit. More grape vines were added on top and dirt was shoveled in until the hole was covered and no more steam was escaping. The burial was complete at 3:45am and we went to bed wondering if it would cook. We felt the dirt on top of the pit at noon the next day and were reassured by its warmth.
As we expected after the noon investigation, the pig was completely cooked at 4pm. Chicken wire, burlap and banana leaves kept the pig completely clean. No dirt at all. In fact, even the banana leaves were dirt free. The chicken-wire was a huge win when lifting the pig out of the pit. We had a lot of trouble getting the dirt and vegetation off it, and it would have been difficult getting it out without being able to grab onto the chicken wire and pull.
We did a few potatoes in 'nacell tubes' made of banana leave mounted on the side of the pig, inside the chicken wire, but outside the burlap. They cooked fine. This is a possible option for future heat tolerant vegetable preparation (yams, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, turnip, maybe even corn).
About 35 to 40 people showed up. There were 25 when we un-earthed the pig, and a bunch more straggled in. There was LOTS of pork left over. It was very moist and tasty, definitely one of our best pit animals yet.
Brought to you by Team Mumu North America, John, Lynn, Nathan, Paul and Gumby