This is not my year to throw a pig roast—I have a rule about pig roast frequency—but that doesn't mean you shouldn't. I'm no pig roast expert, although I have hosted exactly 2 and attended 3 in the last 5 years. But in case you are seriously considering throwing a pig roast in Jackson Hole this fall, I'll share a few of my Pig Roast Rules, a handful of secrets, and a few great recipes to serve on the side.
First, you'll need a pig.
If it's important to you that the pig you serve has led a happy life spent full of frolicking in the mud with its siblings, feeding on organic scraps of food from its farm, you're in luck. Jackson Hole is located just over the mountains from our primary food shed: Teton Valley, Idaho, where happy pigs live. And we are just up the valley from some wonderful pig farms in Bedford and Thayne, Wyoming. The perfect pig is usually just a phone call away. (See Sources, below.)
I sourced my last pig from Jed at Cosmic Apple Gardens in Victor, Idaho. My pig was raised on organic veggie scraps and milk from the farm. It led a happy life being cared for by some of the most dedicated farmers I know. Even though he was a bit young for harvest (you get more meat for the dollar after the pigs put on weight), he was the perfect size for my party as I was planning on serving a table full of vegetable side dishes from my last farmers market haul. Which bring me to Rule #2 of Pig Roast Rules.
What really happened: Everyone arrive an hour late, as per local tradition. The pig took longer than we estimated, and was not fit to eat until 9. While waiting for the pig to be done, my guests plowed through my two stockpots of Pica's margaritas, polished off the beer and all the soft drinks, and ate all the side dishes. The sun went down and the early winter chill filled the yard. My guests pulled on Uggs and down puffies and hunkered down for the night.
By my calculation, I'll be inviting you all over for the next pig roast in 2016.
What to serve with the pig.
A radicchio and Napa cabbage coleslaw seemed like a good idea, too, especially when tossed with a creamy cilantro dressing pureed with a whole jalapeno for added spice.
Perfect pork tacos are all about layers of flavor juxtaposed with layers of texture. The soft tortillas (which were hand made at Jackson Hole's only tortilleria--El Tortilleria Mi Pueblo) and the crispy pork need a variety of toppings: something creamy (wild mushroom queso fundido or bacon guacamole), something tart (quick-pickled carrots and red onion), and something with heat (salsa verde, inspired by my Snowdrift Farm tomatillos).
Wild Mushroom Queso Fundido
Serves 4, easily doubled or tripled for a crowd
- ¾ ounce (about ½ cup) dried porcini or morel mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large jalapeño or 2 small Serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 medium white onion, cut into ¼-inch pieces
- 1 large ripe tomato, cored, seeded and cut into ¼-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons full-flavored beer, like Bohemia
- 8 ounces Mexican melting cheese, such as Chihuahua, quesadilla, or asadero, shredded (about 2 cups)
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chiles, onion, tomato and mushrooms and cook, stirring constantly, until the onions are soft and starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the beer and keep cooking over medium heat until the liquid has evaporated.
3. Over low heat, sprinkle the cheese over the vegetables, stirring constantly just until the cheese is melted. Immediately scoop into a fondue pot or a serving dish warmed by a tea light. Serve with chips to dip, or tortillas as part of a taco bar.
Mexican Quick-Pickled Carrots
Makes enough for at least a dozen tacos
- 2/3 cup rice wine vinegar + 1 cup water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 cups carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 jalapeños, sliced into thin rings, optional
2. Place the carrots, onion and jalapeños in a bowl and pour the hot vinegar mixture over them.
3. Cool to room temperature, and pour into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. The pickles will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
Bacon and Tomato Guacamole
- 5 strips medium-thick smoky bacon, such as Benton’s
- 3 medium ripe avocados (about 1 ¼ pounds)
- ½ medium white onion, chopped into ¼-inch pieces
- 2 or 3 canned chipotles en adobo, to taste; removed from the canning sauce, stemmed, slit open, seeds scraped out and finely chopped
- 1 medium-large ripe tomato, cored, seeded, and chopped into ¼-inch pieces
- ¼ cup loosely packed fresh cilantro (thick bottoms cut off) coarsely chopped, plus extra for garnish
- 1-2 tablespoon fresh lime or lemon juice
- Kosher salt, to taste
1. In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crispy and browned, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels and coarsely crumble.
2. Slice the avocados lengthwise and twist the two halves apart. Remove the pits and scoop out the flesh into a large bowl. Using a potato masher or a large fork, mash the avocados into a coarse puree.
3. Place the onion into a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold water. Shake off all the water and add to the bowl of mashed avocados with the chipotle chiles, tomatoes, and cilantro.