Robert Hunter's Grice Winder

by Elizabeth Atia -

Three years ago crofter and bricklayer Robert Hunter, from Whiteness, got married.

For his stag do he fancied a hog roast. He teamed up with his engineer friend Billy Hughson and together they designed The Grice Winder, a custom built hog roast machine.

Recently I was invited along to a hog roasting event to see The Grice Winder in action. The weather that day was the most beautiful day we've had in Shetland this summer, and with the sun streaming down from a cloudless sky I learned how to roast a whole hog.

First you need to start by sourcing a pig. The pig roasted this day was a rare Iron age breed pork reared in Hillswick by Gateside Croft.

Preparing the pig takes some time as it needs to be carefully trussed up so that it doesn't fall off the spit. Spanners, nuts and bolts and various custom made pieces of metal are used for this.

The Grice Winder is made with two feeding troughs, corrugated iron, scaffolding and a proper spit roast motor.

The whole machine cost approximately £500 to build and it can cook up to an 80 kg whole pig in approximately five hours, weather depending.

After the hog is firmly fixed to the spit, Robert scores the flesh and rubs in a spice blend consisting of wild garlic, rosemary, turmeric and sea salt (among other herbs and spices). He then inserts a meat thermometer into the shoulder. Temperatures inside the device can reach 227 celcius. It works like an oven, and Robert makes sure the meat has reached 180 C before it is ready.

Next.... the fire! Robert prefers to use charcoal because it gives a nice, even heat. He doesn't use lighter fluid to light the charcoal as it will affect the flavour of the meat. Instead, he's picked up a nifty tip - an electric hot air gun! It takes about ten minutes using two guns to get the two feeding troughs filled with lumpwood charcoal burning, and away we go!

Once the charcoal is lit, the walls and the lid of The Grice Winder are put on, and the motor is switched on and the entire thing is left to do its thing for five to nine hours, depending on the weather and wind speed.

Several hours later...

... you end up with the most aromatic, mouthwatering and succulent slow-roasted pork and crackling. You'll be licking your fingers after eating this pork - I know I was!

This hog roast was organised for Laura and Kevin Sinclair's hamefarin'. They'd recently married in Santorini, Greece, and so they had a hamefarin' for friends and family in their local hall followed by a hog roast the following day.

With much thanks to the new bride and groom for letting me, and my family, gatecrash their hamefarin' all in the name of roasted pig!

This was Robert's 8th hog roast, and he's learning more and more each time. He doesn't do this professionally or charge for his services, he just loves a BBQ and is quite happy to lend out his Grice Winder to anyone who wants a go. He'll even offer to be the cook for your event, all you need to do it buy the pig and the charcoal!

Robert says his Grice Winder can fit two lambs, and he's keen to try roasting a few turkeys in it at Christmastime!

If you are interested in borrowing the Grice Winder, or having Robert cook for you, send me a message via the Contact Form and I'll pass on your details.

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