How do I cook a pig in that?
So the date is set and you have about 40 people coming over to celebrate…time for a pig roast! Question is, how should we roast it? In La Caja China? In a spit rotisserie? Lets delve into the different cooking methods so that you can see which one suits you best. Regardless of your choice, at the end of the day the results will be a delicious meal and a successful party!
Let’s start with the Roasting Box or Caja Asadora (also known as a Cajun Microwave in some areas.) This is a wooden box that is lined on the inside with either galvanized steel or aluminum depending on the model you choose. The top of the box is closed with an ash pan and charcoal grid. The charcoal rests on the top of this pig roaster, above the charcoal grid. This method allows the meat to become moist and tender within 5 hours because of the oven-like effect of the enclosed cooking area. This china box also allows for easy mobility thanks to the wheels and long handles.
So what is the actual cooking process? It is fairly simple. When buying the pig ask the butcher to butterfly it. Season your pig the night before with your favorite spices. We are partial to the Mojo Criollo marinade, which is a staple in many latin cultures. Make sure to bring your pig back to room temperature before starting to roast. This will help ensure that your Caja China cooking times do not exceed the advertised time of 4-5 hours. Once you are ready to start cooking, place the pig between the two steel racks and secure it with the S hooks. You will place the pig skin side down inside the roasting box, then cover the box with the ash pan and charcoal grid.
You will need about 14 lbs of charcoal to start with. We recommend using a chimney starter to evenly light the charcoals before spreading out over the box. Make sure you keep the pig covered and the coals monitored for about 3 hours, peeking ever so slightly throughout to make sure there are no hot spots. Every hour or so you will need to remove the ash and add 8-10 lbs of fresh charcoal to maintain the cooking temperature within the box. At about the 3 hour mark you are going to want some help because it is time to flip the pig. You will place the ash tray and charcoal grid on top of the long handles. Each person will grab one end of the double racks holding the pig and flip so that the skin is now facing up. This is the last leg of the cooking process. For the next hour or so, after having added your fresh coals, you will cook the skin to your desired crispiness. Once it looks ready and the temperature of the meat reads about 190 degrees you are ready to present your creation to those patiently waiting to sink their teeth in!
The LaCajachina method requires little maintenace, and is a great excuse to gather around the china box, drink some beers and have a few laughs as the pig roasts. The cooking time is definitely great, you do not have to be slaving as you cook for hours on end or waiting around 10 plus hours to eat.
Next let’s look at the Spit Rotisserie. This method is definitely interesting to watch as you see the pig turning hours as it cooks. Once the pig is seasoned and prepared for mounting you will place it through the spit rod, securing it with the spine hook and forks. The coal is on the bottom tray and the rod is turned by an electric motor. Not much to it huh. This method is fairly easy the pig appears to basically cook itself. However, there are some drawbacks. For one, the cooking time is a lot longer, anywhere from 10 hours and up. This is a result of the heat lost to your surroundings as the pig is being cooked in the open, unlike the enclosed space of the Caja China. You will need to have a lot of appetizers and finger foods to keep your guest at bay as the wait for the main course!
The other aspect of the spit rotisserie that is often overlooked is the necessity for an electrical outlet. Any time electrical components are involved, of course, there is the potential for malfunction. Be sure to purchase only high quality products, such as the rotisserie pictured above. A flawed or cheap motor can make a great party into a nightmare! Choosing the right manufacturer is key.
Either way you chose, the outcome will be delicious and your guests will be asking you when you will host the next party so they can bring their friends to sample the mouth-watering results that a well done roast will provide. The Spring is here, and Summer grilling season is around the corner. Until then, happy roasting!