Attention pork fanatics
Thu Oct 9 2008
Photograph: Jeff Gurwin
Wildwood Barbecue (225 Park Ave South at 18th St, 212-533-2500) now lets diners go whole hog. Call a couple days ahead, and pit master Big Lou Elrose will special order an entire acorn-and apple-fed pig (a 30-pounder serves 12 to 15 for $400; $650 gets a 50-pounder, which feeds 25 to 30). The freshly slaughtered squealer is brined for 24 hours in a blend of apple juice, molasses, bay leaves and brown sugar, and injected throughout with chicken stock and apple juice to keep the flesh moist. It’s then rubbed with Lou’s piquant, proprietary spice blend and slow-smoked over applewood and hickory for ten hours, causing the candy-crisp skin to turn the color of penny loafers and rendering the meat fall-apart tender. Big Lou himself wheels out the beast—cherry tomatoes in place of its eyes, an apple in its mouth—and slices off tender cheeks and meaty spareribs, which he teams with his zippy chipotle sauce and vinegar-tomato “mop sauce.” Ask nicely, and Lou’ll let you carve the oinker yourself. “Half the fun is pulling on a pair of gloves and going to town,” he says. In the coming months, whole-critter lovers will be able to tuck into lamb and turkey. Some might call it barbaric. Others call it dinner.
The deal: Swing by Chinatown’s Great New York Noodletown (28 Bowery at Bayard St, 212-349-0923) three or four days in advance and put down a 50 percent deposit, and you’ll score a cooked 30- to 60-pound pig for just $5.50 a pound—less than half of the cost of Wildwood’s.