Just a few important things to remember for next time. Some we had to learn the hard way, others we just knew contributed to our success. If you're going to try it yourself, don't forget:
If I was going to do it without a pit (and I may well, just because I love the flavor), I'd take a pork shoulder, wrap it in leaves, set it on a trivet in a dutch oven, put a little water in the bottom of the dutch oven, and bake the lot, either outdoors (say at an SCA campout) in the coals of a fire, or indoors in my oven with the setting at something like 300°. Low and slow, like true barbecue. (Don't get me started on the difference between barbecue and simple grilling; that's another article). It might even work in my water smoker, come to think of it.
Anyway, good luck, and if I've inspired you to try throwing a luau of your own, write to me and tell me how it went!
I've started to get a bunch of requests for further info, and folks telling me they're gonna go for it. (Yah! Give 'em!) And such reports as I receive, I'm going to post here. Here's the first, from Mark in Oregon (thanks for letting me post it, Mark!):
Subject: We Did It !!! Date: Sat, 21 Aug 1999 16:56:47 EDT
Thanks for having the website available for us !!!
After much humming and hawing, we decided to try roasting a pig. We live in a very suburban neighborhood, so I had a few extra chores to do. First, I called the fire department and asked about building a big fire in my back yard. They had just instituted a county wide ban on open fires, but when they heard what I was doing they gave thier tacit permission (actually, they said if nobody turned me in I probly wouldn't get caught!!!).
I dug the pit in our side yard, about 5' from the old cedar fence and 6' from the house. I dug it deep to help with fire protection and had a hose within 10' of the pit. As we heated the rocks (which did explode and bounce everywhere, including through the fence and against the neighbors house !!!) we kept hosing down the house, fence and ground around the pit to prevent fires. We heated the rocks for about 5 1/2 hours, then inserted the pig.
We couldn't get banana leaves, so we used wet burlap. Also, we had to buy rocks and sand, as the ground around here is all clay and I didn't think it would insulate very well.
Question- what is the best type of rock to buy? I got Oregon lava rock- mostly solid and heavy (about 300 lbs). The more solid the rocks appeared, the more they broke apart. The onese that seemed to work best (ie- didn't break down too much) were the ones that had a few holes in them. The rock place said I should use pourous lava rock, but that didn't seem right. Perhaps I was mistaken !!! [LA sez: actually, that would probably have been more right for us too, since, it occurs to me, the pores would let out any potential steam, not letting pressure build up... further experimentation in the rock department is definitely needed.]
Anyway, we put the pig in the ground about 10:30 PM and left it until 5:30 the next afternoon- about 20 hours. It came out great !!! It was a big hit, and all the friends and neighbors were impressed. We had a great time !!!
Again, thanks for the info on the website. Without it I wouldn't have tried, and I am glad we did !!! I would encourage anyone to give this a try - what fun !!!