Chef Andrew Adams finishes up a roasted pig at Acre.
After cocktails and dessert at Acre (try the raspberry pistachio cake), I spotted Chef Andrew Adams by the herb garden out back. I thought he was picking basil or taking a break. Nope. Adams was cooking a suckling pig with hot coals and a roasting box. He didn't seem to even notice the evening's 100 degree heat.
I’ve been curious about how Acre roasts its pigs, part of a prix fixe dinner served family style in the restaurant’s private dining room. The chefs use something called a Cajun microwave or china box, and here’s how Adams explains the process: First, he injects the pig with a salty orange and pineapple brine, and it rests overnight. Roasting the next day takes about four hours. Charcoal is placed over the pig about a foot-and-a-half away, so the coals act like a broiler of sorts to the box.
For the first three hours, the pig cooks back side down. “Then we flip it, score the skin and roast it until the skin is crispy and starts to blister,” Adams explained in an email. This final step takes about 30 minutes to an hour.
I was watching the pig roast just before it was served, and the crackling skin smelled wonderful and looked even more appealing. “The steam created from the fat melting and boiling under the skin causes bubbles to form and when the fat boils over the bubbles, it gets crispy and makes the crunchy skin,” Adams explained.
Simple science, right? If experimenting at home is irresistible, you can purchase a roasting box from La Caja China for about $300.
Acre, 690 S. Perkins, (901) 818-2273, www.acrememphis.com.