When Erik Wood started planning a birthday party for his wife, Emily, he wasn’t trying to pick a theme that would help his 50 guests break the ice; they were friends who already knew one another, he said. But the Woods got a conversation starter anyway.
Under a crisp white tent on a recent Saturday afternoon in his Ocean Township backyard, a 110-pound pig — freshly roasted and fragrant, with golden-brown skin — lay sprawled in a nest of purple cabbage, fresh coconut halves and orchids.
“It’s nothing I ever would have thought of for myself,” said Ms. Wood, who would turn 37 two days later. “But everyone who was coming had the same reaction when we told them it was going to be a pig roast: They were psyched. And they wanted to know if it was going to have an apple in its mouth.” It did not.
Such enthusiasm and curiosity are typical of pig roasts, according to David Keith, who owns DRJ Catering in Wall Township with his wife, Regina. They arrived in the Woods’ backyard with a metal pig roaster to cater the party. “People come look at the pig and ask questions,” he said.
Among the things they want to know: how much the pig weighs, how long it took to cook, and what parts are edible. Answer to the last: almost all of it, including the ears, tongue, snout and cheeks, known to be particularly succulent.
Mr. Keith, 45, of Toms River, had started cooking the pig early in the morning and, like most caterers, finished it at the party.
“They’re 90 percent cooked when we arrive,” he said, because depending on a pig’s weight — at the parties Mr. Keith caters, pigs range from 50 to 150 pounds — cooking can take up to 12 hours.
DRJ has been putting on pig roasts in backyards and at public events like street fairs for 21 years (prices for catered events start at $10 per person); he also offers menus including traditional barbecues with ribs, brisket and chicken….
… Mr. Keith, the caterer for the Woods’ party, who wore a T-shirt with his company’s logo and the slogan “Horrifying vegetarians since 1993,” served his pork straight up. After carving, it was placed in a chafing dish, with a selection of homemade sauces and spices that guests were encouraged to sprinkle or drizzle over the meat. The party’s hosts served their own macaroni and cheese and salads, but caterers will also supply side dishes for an extra charge.
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