LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!! Good evening and welcome to tonight’s main event which promises to be a classic adventure in every sense of the word. In the red corner, hailing from the Arkansas Delta and weighing in at approximately 7.2 pounds (pre cooked weight), known for midnight corn field raids, evading spotlights and hound dogs, rooting out wallows the size of dump trucks, and swimming the Mississippi river just for the fun of it. He has a hearty appetite for acorns and anything else that will fit in his mouth including but not limited to cannibalizing his own brethren: The undisputed nuisance of farmers, the most prolific destroyer of habitat…. The WIld Hog Shoulder!!
And in blue corner, hailing from a commercial farm of unknown origin and weighing in at approximately 8.7 pounds: The epitome of sloth and laziness, the prince of domestication, the star of animal rights videos everywhere. He has his own section in the grocery store. You know him, you love him as the eternally on-sale pork. No, he is not white meat and don’t call him a comeback; The undisputed, heavyweight champion of…. weight: The Domestic Yorkshire Hog Shoulder!!!
Round 1: Preparation
Domestic Hog: One quick rub. Ready to go!
Wild Hog: Patches of silver skin removed. Surface scraped to remove loose hair. Checked for entry/exit wounds. Surface coated with Ghee (a type of clarified butter with high smoking temperature) as a fat supplement. One quick rub. Now, ready to go!.
Round 2: Smoke
Both shoulders are smoked over Applewood and fresh chopped Oak in an offset smoker at 225 degrees Fahrenheit for 4 hours. Apple Cider and Water added to the drip pan
Round 3: Finishing
Smoke is applied for 2 hours hours with the meat wrapped in foil, sprayed with a mixture of Apple Cider and Kentucky Straight Bourbon and heat reduced to 200 degrees Fahrenheit .
Round 4: Resting
Both shoulders are removed from the foil and allowed to rest for approximately 30 minutes.
Round 5: Chopping/Pulling
The wild hog is chopped while the domestic hog is easily pulled. The distinct lack of marbling makes for a noticeable difference in moisture in the wild meat. It quickly becomes apparent that these are two shoulders are seemingly from different animals, despite being genetically identical.
Round 6: Color
The wild meat is of a much darker colorization, something more akin to beef or venison. The domestic meat looks like barbecue you might buy at a restaurant. The domestic hog has a noticeably heavier bark while the wild hog has dark smoke color, but very little bark. It should be noted that the Ghee coating may have affected the amount of bark on the wild hog by protecting the surface from the heat.
Round 7: Smoke Ring
Both meat portions have a prominent smoke penetration. Interesting to note the wild hog shows a great smoke ring despite its lack of bark.
Round 8: Taste
Vastly. Different. Animals.
The domestic pig tastes like what you expect from great, back porch barbecue: Moist, tender, deep smoke flavor and dripping with rendered fat. The wild hog, on the other hand, is significantly more concentrated with a flavor best described as “nutty”, while lacking the running juices of marbled fat. The degree of gaminess is relatively low. There are zero complaints of gaminess even from those inexperienced with game meats.
Round 9: Texture
The wild hog is more akin to tearing into steak and it cuts like a piece of venison or beef. The domestic hog is, again, exactly what you expect from smoked pork. At the same time, there is something significant to be said for the carnivore within that wishes to pull meat from bone and use those incisors for what they are intended.
Round 10: Post Mastication
With the excess fat, the domestic hog is far more rich and satiating. You definitely feel fuller from eating all of that rendered fat. The wild hog tastes more like clean protein that once could just eat, eat and eat before getting full.
Round 11: General Consensus
Those accustomed to store bought meats tend to prefer the less flavorful, but more tender and fattier, domestic pig. The hunters in attendance, however, preference the heavy concentration of protein-centric, intrinsically flavored, leaner, wild meat. The Certified Memphis Barbecue judge in attendance comments, “I am surprised that the game flavor of the wild hog offsets the lack of intramuscular fat that the farm raised pig posses, which is generally understood to produce its [the domestic pig’s] great flavor. The one downside to the lack of intramuscular fat is that the wild hog does not have enough fat to maintain tenderness throughout the cooking process.” As a barbecue judge, he recommends injecting wild hog with butter.
Round 12: Conclusion
While we note that these two shoulders are of the same genetic coding, they might as well be from two different species. However, no battle royale worth it’s salt can conclude without a true winner. As people who enjoy wild animals, appreciate the the natural flavors that comes from environment, we both prefer the wild hog. Not to knock the domestic pig and all of its glorious fat, but, if we are talking on a scale of pure flavor or, if we were held to a death row meal, one or the other, we’re all in: Wild Hog.
FYI: Hogs have two shoulders. -can’t wait for the rematch.