Caja China vs Spit Roaster…What’s the difference?
This is a question we get quite a lot regarding our la caja china, everyone wants to know what is the difference between other styles of roasting. I have decided to break down each hog roaster by different categories so you can see where each roaster differs and have a little more knowledge in the world of pig roasting…
The Caja China and Spit Roaster in action…
Setting-up the unit:
Caja Asadora/Hog Roaster – The set-up process of this unit should take you about 30 minutes with just a screwdriver and adjustable wrench. Everything you need comes with the Roasting Box, the hardware to build the box and the items needed to roast your pig. You will have to put together the four walls, the wheels and the handles and you are ready to start cooking.
Spit Rotisserie – Everything you need to build is also provided and typically takes about 45 minutes to build, depending on the manufacturer.
Cost of the unit:
La Caja China / Caja Asadora – These roasters can range from $189.95 to $1250 depending on the size of the animal you choose to roast and the style and look of the box. The wooden box is most common but as time changes the boxes also evolve and the new steel exterior units tend to cost a bit more.
Spit Roaster – This style starts at about $389 and the price goes up from there.
Time to Cook:
Caja Asadora / China Box – Typically for an 80 lb whole pig you are looking at a cooking time of 4-5 hours. The cajun microwave is a heat sealed unit so it allows the pig to cook like a pressure cooker evenly and quickly. You also are able to save money on the amount of charcoal you buy because this style of cooking gives you more control of the amount of heat used as opposed to the spit rotisserie. The cooking is pretty self sufficient as long as the box is closed throughout the cooking time to make sure the temperature is being maintained. You should open the box about every hour to make sure there are no hot spots and that the cooking is progressing nicely. A digital thermometer is great to use because it allows you to keep an eye on the meat temperature without having to keep the box open for a long period of time.
Spit Rotisserie – Due to the nature of this cooking method you are looking at a twice the cooking time of 8 hours or more. You tend to lose a lot of the heat because you are cooking the pig exposed to the elements which makes it challenging to maintain the appropriate heat temperature over a consistent time. You also have to make sure you have a lot of coal on hand to keep the temperature as consistent as possible throughout the cooking period. The type of rotisserie will also dictate how much work you need to do to cook the pig. If you have a hand-cranked unit then you have to make sure someone is manning the station at all times and turning the pig throughout the cooking time. If you happen to have a battery operated unit you have to make sure that it is not too close to the heat because it has the potential to over heat and if you lose that piece of the equipment that can cause a big problem in cooking your pig.
Results of the finished product:
Caja China – Due to the roasting box‘s way of cooking, charcoals above the box push heat inside the sealed box to cook the meat evenly like a giant pressure cooker. This allows the meat to come out tender and juicy. Since you begin the cooking process with the underside facing up you are cooking the pig from the inside out, leaving the cooking of the skin until the last 45 min allows you to get the crunchy exterior everyone loves without drying out the meat. Being able to control the temperature throughout the approximate 4 hour cooking time is key to making sure every inch of that pig is cooked. Also, since you have to butterfly the pig in order to cook it in the china box, that allows the meat to cook evenly and quicker with this method.
Spit Rotisserie – The meat cooked in this manner can run the risk of drying out in certain areas but there are a lot of factors. The meat often dries out due to the direct heat and open air which allow much of the heat to escape. Also, since a pig is typically wrapped around a spit there is no exposure of the ribs or underside during the cooking process so you are actually cooking a whole pig from the outside in. The pig is also being rotated continuously so it makes it harder to focus on an area or know what part of the pig is being over cooked or under cooked.
Hopefully this comparison of products has shed some light on any questions or concerns you might have had regarding either of the units, La Caja China or the Spit Rotisserie.
Each method is suitable for any lifestyle and can help bring family and friends together for great food, drinks and company. Happy roasting!