BELFAST, Maine — The Randall-Collins VFW’s building fund got a little larger Saturday and so did the bellies of those who attended the post’s annual pig roast.
Members and guests lined up at noon for roast pig, potato and macaroni and garden salads, corn, hot dogs, hamburgers, yeast rolls and dessert. The side dishes added to the fare, but it was the 104-pound pig that had been slow-cooking on the spit for half a day that everyone came for.
“It’s really good, but it does get caught in your teeth,” said 12-year-old Sabrina Bowden of Northport as she munched on the roast pork and then licked her fingers. Sabrina, who was attending her first pig roast, said she was looking forward to the next one.
The annual event is held to raise money for a new post. VFW commander Steve Brown said the existing post was in need of major repairs and that many veterans stay away because its meeting room and lounge are on the second floor.
“People just don’t like climbing the stairs, and a lot of our members are not getting any younger,” Brown said. “We’d like to tear this one down and put up a new building.”
Brown said more than 50 had attended Saturday’s roast by midafternoon and he expected at least that many more to show up before the day ended. For all those who missed out, he said, another benefit will be held in August.
Brown said the post has a loyal group of members, which includes the war veterans, the men and women’s auxiliary as well as an AMVETS chapter. All pitched in to help prepare Saturday’s roast, including Brown’s brother Fred Barlow of Surf & Turf Catered Cookouts of Searsport. Barlow has been roasting pigs for 20 years and has donated his time for all of the post’s roasts.
Barlow started cooking the 6-month-old pig in the post parking lot at 1 a.m. and it was ready for serving shortly after noon. The pig is wrapped in chicken wire and hangs on a spit over a charcoal fire. The cooker is a converted oil tank. When done, the slow-cooked meat falls off the bone and has a slightly smoky flavor.
“It just slow-cooks all night until it’s nice and done. When you put it on the table, instead of cutting it you just pull it off the bone,” Barlow said.
As for the apple in the mouth often depicted in pictures of roast pigs, Brown said apples shrivel during cooking and would have to be sewn into the mouth to keep it from falling out. Hardly any part of the pig is wasted, including the head.
“People take the head home and pick meat from it to make spaghetti sauce,” Barlow said. “The pig’s ears go to somebody’s dog.”
The World Health Organization says on its Web site that there is no risk of people contracting swine flu from well-cooked pork.