The Hog Days of Summer
Tyson Ho’s Hog Days of Summer brings traditional North Carolina whole hog to the streets of New York throughout the summer with weekend events alternating locations between Long Island City and Greenpoint.
Two Gloucester hogs—a heritage breed known for their high fat content—were delivered early the evening before. Each weighing in excess of 200 pounds, they took three men to carry.
Each hog was promptly cleaned before butchering began.
The hogs were seasoned and loaded into the smoker about 18 hours before they would be served.
Logs—mainly oak—were burned down to coals in a burn barrel, and those coals were shoveled into the smoker’s firebox. This process continued unrelentingly throughout the entire cook.
Prepping the mustard slaw that mixed together vinegar, sugar, mustard, and mayo to dress finely shredded cabbage and sliced red apple.
You can’t have North Carolina barbecue without hush puppies—essentially, little balls of fried sweet cornbread.
As the time approached to remove the hog from the smoker, Tyson gave a primer to the crowd on traditions of North Carolina barbecue and details of how he prepped and smoked these particular pigs.
Each head was smoked alongside the body and was the first thing removed from the smoker. They were placed on the table as “decoration.”
The meat was then chopped at varying sizes. The leaner meat was left a little larger, while the fatty portions were chopped finely.
Finishing the Pork
By the end of chopping, meat from every section of the pig was represented. Pork rinds were added to this, followed by North Carolina vinegar sauce, before finally getting mixed together by hand.
The final product was slightly smoky, a little sweet, a little spicy, but not so drenched in sauce that the natural flavor of the pork was masked.
A live bluegrass band set the relaxed tone that lasted throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
Give the Dog a (Hog) Bone
Leaving nothing to waste, the bones were distributed to four-legged companions that were happily welcomed at Hog Days.