Hamburgers and hot dogs may be the traditional summer barbecue fare, but when it comes time for a major celebration, some local residents like to go the whole hog by roasting an entire pig.
One such resident is Brian Hartel, of Hopewell Township. Hartel hold an annual barbecue for several hundred of his closest friends every summer, and on that occasion, only an entire porker roasting on a spit will do.
Hartel said there’s a special kind of atmosphere when a pig is turning over charcoal.
“I think when you roast the whole pig, the meat’s more flavorful and it’s a very casual, outdoorsy type thing to do. People can relax and have a good time and play qoits and swim in the pool. Everybody just gets really relaxed and it’s enjoyable home-cooked food. You’ve got the aroma of that thing cooking in the air.”
Last year, Hartel had a 90-pound hog for 130 people. None of it went to waste.
Of course, most people don’t have charcoal pits and spits in their backyard, nevermind the know-how to properly roast a whole pig. That’s where people like Frank Galloway come in.
Galloway, a Lawrence resident and owner of Frank’s Bar-B-Que, roasts 20 to 25 pigs a year as part of his catering business.
Galloway agrees that a roasting porker creates a unique atmosphere.
“It’s a more joyous occasion,” Galloway said. “It brings out a lot of curiosity. Maybe I’m a little biased, but it brings more stature to the occasion.”
Though organizations often hold pig roasts, most of Galloway’s customers are private individuals celebrating special occasions. Second weddings, christenings, family reunions, graduations and annual picnics are all excuses to roast pigs.
Galloway, whose day job is as a facilities manager for New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance in Hammonton, learned how to roast a pig from his uncle. Though a pig roast brings out a celebratory spirit in most, it has sparked odd behavior on at least one occasion.
“A person came up with a spoon and ate the eyes out one time,” Galloway said.
Getting a whole pig to roast isn’t as easy as going to the supermarket. Other whole pig suppliers include City Beef in Trenton and Ely’s Pork in Washington Crossing, Pa.