Published in The Washington Post Express.
Sure, you could roast your own pig. You could get up at the crack of dawn to clean and brine the hog, then spend the rest of the day turning it over a hot fire with black smoke stinging your eyes. Or you could let one of these restaurants do the hard work for you. “People can have a burger and a hot dog at home. They want something they can’t do at home,” says Dennis Marron, the executive chef of Jackson 20. “It’s just a fun way to cook and feed people. Pig roasts have definitely gotten more popular over the last few years.” Add live entertainment and ice-cold drinks, and you have the ingredients for one serious pork feast.
Testing the limits of your stomach, Jackson 20 hosts a monthly all-you-can-eat Pig-A-Palooza, with smoked pig, suckling pig, pulled pork shoulder, charcuterie, ribs, potato salad, coleslaw, smoked corn, corn bread and more. “You just show up and there’s a whole buffet full of food,” says executive chef Dennis Marron. “Then we have the whole pig, which is always the star. People get up, walk around it, talk to each other. It’s a more communal atmosphere.” The gorging occurs June 15 (with the Joe Chiocca Band providing the soundtrack), July 13 and Aug. 11 at 6 p.m.
» $35 per person. 480 King St., Alexandria; 703-842-2790, Jackson20.com. (King Street)
When Poste’s executive chef, Robert Weland, started Poste Roasts, he wasn’t sure how people would respond to the nose-to-tail approach, but “;all of a sudden they’re asking for French knives and splitting the head and really going at it more aggressively than I thought. That kind of sparked it, to be honest.” Due to popular demand, Weland will serve everything — including the brains, livers and kidneys — of the animals he cooks (he also roasts goats and lambs). The whole suckling pig comes with the head split for you and is served with parsley, chopped eggs and sea salt.
» For groups of 8 to 12 only, seven-day advance reservations needed, $55 per person. 555 8th St. NW; 202-783-6060, Postebrasserie.com. (Metro Center)
In honor of traditional Filipino-style pig roasts, a 40-pound, butterflied suckling pig is brined with lemongrass, garlic, lime leaf, Thai basil and lemon on TenPenh’s patio every Sunday at 5 p.m. The meat is then roasted under a blazing fire in a La Caja China (Chinese cooking box) for hours. The lush, aromatic pork is then served with pork jus and Hoisin vinaigrette and Filipino sides such as braised green beans with cashews and coconut milk; and vermicelli noodles with shrimp and Chinese sausage. “Our seats are filled with Filipino natives who say it tastes just like it does back home,” says executive chef Bob McGuire. “That says it all.”
» $29 per person. 1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-393-4500, Tenpenh.com. (Federal Triangle)
WANT TO GO HOG WILD AT HOME?
With a few days’ notice, the Butcher’s Block can have a whole uncooked suckling pig ready for you for $6 to $9 per pound. It’ll also prepare just about any side you’d like, including mac ‘n’ cheese, roasted asparagus, potato salad, pasta salad, green beans, beets and roasted potatoes. Cost varies according to market price and serving size.
» 1600 King St., Alexandria; 703-894-5253; Braborestaurant.com. (King Street)
ONE TIME ONLY!
Bourbon Steak’s Pig Out returns on Aug. 14 from 3 to 6 p.m. Fast-on-the-draw patrons — tickets sell out quickly — will enjoy a split-roasted whole pig, grilled homemade sausage and bratwurst, a street taco stand, and barbecue ribs served with corn bread, coleslaw and baked beans. Desserts include cupcakes decorated with pig faces, above. Tickets cost $50 for food and drink or $35 for food only.
» 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-944-2026, Bourbonsteakdc.com. (Foggy Bottom-GWU)