When guests piled their plates up with pulled pork at Sunday’s Youth for Christ fund-raiser, the meat was about as fresh as it could be. Three hogs were butchered on Saturday, cut into chunks and placed in a custom-made cooker to slow roast for 22 hours.


When guests piled their plates up with pulled pork at Sunday’s Youth for Christ fund-raiser, the meat was about as fresh as it could be. Three hogs were butchered on Saturday, cut into chunks and placed in a custom-made cooker to slow roast for 22 hours.

Propane fuel kept the temperature at an even 250 degrees, while mesquite logs imparted the characteristic smoked flavor. The meat was also rubbed with a special seasoning, but Dennis Mohler isn’t saying what’s in it, other than the blend was developed by his wife Ellen. Many people have tried to guess — he said no to both paprika and garlic — but the recipe remains a secret.

Mohler learned the basics of hog roasting from Dick Wehling, formerly of the Sawyer area and now living in Pratt. He has been preparing meat for a Sawyer Fire Department fund-raiser for 13 years, and this is his eighth year to cook for Youth for Christ. He also prepares meat for the Elm Mills Fourth of July celebration and has done several weddings. As long as the meat is being given away, even for a donation, and not sold, he can butcher on the farm, he learned after checking with state officials.

Mohler and volunteer helpers Jeff Taylor and Obe Brant met early Saturday to start preparations to feed 500 people. Mohler learned to butcher as a kid on the farm, and Taylor and Brant, who have worked with him for several years, have been apt pupils. A nearly 300-pound hog, hanging hind feet first from a truck-mounted winch, was skinned in short order, cleaned and transferred to a table to be cut into eight pieces. With years of practice, Mohler says he can butcher a hog by himself in about 45 minutes.

He designed the four-foot by eight-foot cooker on wheels, and hired Pioneer Tank to build it. A unique feature of his cooker is the ability to inject steam during the cooking process. That keeps the meat moist, and is one reason why people like it so well, he said. That, and the secret seasoning.

Mohler does all the butchering for his family — beef, pork, whatever’s in the freezer, he said. He always has some pulled pork on hand, and has also smoked turkeys in his cooker.

The turkey skin gets too hard and tough to eat, but it keeps all the juices in the bird — accidentally puncture the skin when making a transfer, and you’ll get a bath, he warned.

Not many people butcher on the farm any more, Mohler agreed, but last winter five or six families gathered in his shop to butcher eight hogs for their own use. It’s good fellowship, he said.