Restaurants using La Caja China equals more profit

•April 17, 2013 • Leave a Comment

If you are in the restaurant business then you know business can be tough with need to constantly keep customers satisfied with your food and service in order to make your business successful. A new trend among many executive chef’s is bringing La Caja China into their establishment. A growing number are reaching out to us and order our roasting box to use in their restaurants, hotels, and catering services.

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Whether using it for a special occasion such as an outdoor festival or holiday held at their restaurant, or for a weekly or monthly pig or lamb roast, they know this small investment will keep the patrons coming back for more.

The Caja China, or China Box is a versatile box and if it lands in the hands of a smart restaurant owner / executive chef then it can make magic in their establishment. Roasting a whole pig is the most common use for the cajun microwave but I have been seeing chef’s really think outside the box and cook all sorts of meals within this box, appealing to a variety of pallets. Pork shoulders, ribs, whole chickens, ducks…etc.

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The great thing about this is that you can cook a greater amount at one time which cuts down the waiting time for the guests in getting their food; I don’t know about you but when I am hungry I want my food. In all reality, this will allow the chefs to manage their backroom more efficiently and the manager will have a happy front of the house that will definitely bring them back for more.

An investment in lacajachina is a smart move allowing for versatility in the menu that will always have your guests coming back for more. Increasing foot traffic will ultimately increase your profit and before you know it that caja asadora will have surpassed it’s initial investment.

I challenge you as a restaurant owner and chef to think outside the box and start cooking inside the box. Happy roasting!

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How do I cook a pig in that?

•April 4, 2013 • Leave a Comment

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!

China Box 70-80 lb from Latin Touch

This Caja China style Roasting Box from Latin Touch roasts up to a 70-80 whole pig.

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.

cajun microwave style pig roast

Time to enjoy the fruits of your labor…

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!

This Spit Rotisserie from Latin Touch roasts up to 60 lb pig, lamb, or goat.

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!

Swine and Wine recap from South Beach Wine and Food Festival

•March 27, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I had promised to give a recap of the nights festivities at the 2013 Swine and Wine held at the Biltmore Hotel in beautiful Coral Gables, FL, so here it it…better late than never.

The night was perfect with the smell of delicious pig’s roasting in the Caja China from 19 different chef’s, mojitos and of course the wine was flowing. I was in much anticipation and did not know where to start this delectable journey for my taste buds. This event was hosted by local chef Michelle Bernstein and sponsored by a household name in any latin home, Goya Foods. It amazed my how many different ways pork can be cooked in la caja asadora, then again I am not a culinary chef by trade. Here are a few images of some of the masterpieces we got to sample at the event.

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This was host Michelle Bernstein‘s creation, Lechon asado with Vietnamese noddle salad.

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This dish is from chef Ingrid Hoffman, Tequila-chipotle pulled pork buns. Can you say yummy! She is one of my favorite chefs and she gave the attendees an at home experience as she hugged, kissed, shook hands and explained her creation in detail.

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This was from Jorge Padron, Lechon asado with Cuban style risotto. This was probably the one that most resembled what I am accustomed to eating at every family party and holiday and it tasted just as good.

The evening was not just about trying the different styles of pork cooked in the roasting box and prepared in different was, it was a competition between these 19 chefs for the coveted Pat La Frieda “Piggy Choice Award” which was voted by those attending and tasting. This years winner was a first timer to the event, Chef Ryan Nielsen from Bongo’s Cuban Cafe and Lario’s on the Beach with his truly delicious traditional lechon asado and sweet maduro mash layered on crispy pork skin and topped with crunchy spanish onions. Yes, it sounds as amazing as it tasted and looked…

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This event was great and I was so happy I was able to attend and be part of these culinary masterpieces. It was also great seeing so many ideas come out of the same cooking method, roasting a whole pig in La Caja China. I can’t wait to get our roasting box and put it to use soon, maybe I will impress the family with some yummy creation.

Happy roasting, until next time!

Caja China and Fine Chocolate together at last

•February 27, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Doesn’t seem like your typical pairing…the Caja China and Chocolate…who are you kidding, it is a genius idea! We have the privilege of being invited to participate in Miami’s first ever Fine Chocolate & Food Show at Pinecrest Gardens March 9-10, 2013

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The event will showcase local chef’s and world class chocolatiers while presenting a selection of fine food products and beverages. With over 80 vendors throughout the gardens offering up samples of their best, this is going to be an event worth your time. We will be set-up alongside some of Miami finest eateries serving up pulled pork sliders and other goodies in our roasting box, letting you experience firs- hand the delicious delicacy of pork cooked in a cajun microwave.  There will also be live cooking demonstrations and pairing seminars of fine foods and chocolates as you peruse the beautiful botanical gardens. Of course, crafted beer, wine and spirits along with some entertainment will top off your experience.

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This is a definite family event, there will be an area within the gardens that has a water splash and play area, as well as a petting zoo for kids. After all the chocolate tasting they might need an area to run off that sugar high while you enjoy some live music. We are thrilled to be part of an event with so many amazing chefs, restauranteurs, and entrepreneurs in attendance.

Too leave you with an inspiration to come by and visit if you are lucky enough to be in Miami, or to plan your next trip for the 2014 show…feast your eyes on what you can be enjoying…

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Now how is that for temptation! We hope to see you as we are are firing up our CajaChina…until next time, happy roasting!

La Caja China on South Beach

•February 21, 2013 • Leave a Comment

The much anticipated SoBe Wine and Food festival is upon us here in sunny Miami, FL and if you are a foodie this is heaven for your taste buds; famous chefs from everywhere come to one area and bring their culinary talents to South Beach…sounds a lot like Lebron coming to the Miami Heat huh. Jokes aside, one of my favorite events of the weekend is the Swine and Wine event co-sponsored by La Caja China, which will be held at the Biltmore Hotel hosting a mix of two of my favorites, cajachina pork inspired dishes and  great wine.Image

I have written past posts highlighting different meals that you can make in your roasting box, well at this event there are roughly 17 different ways the pork will be prepared using La Caja China. Can you imagine! Local chefs from Miami such as Michelle Bernstein making a whole Whole Lechon Asado with Vietnamese Noodle Salad  & Pork Dashi. Ingrid Hoffman making Tequilla-Chipotle Pulled Pork Buns with Fennel-Tomatillo Curtido , Avocadolicious Sauce & Toasted Coriander Seeds. Cory Lambert from Swine Southern Table & Bar restaurant making Pork “Brisket on a Biscuit” Vanilla Pork Belly, Blackberry Jam and Buttermilk Powder White Chocolate Pork Rinds…and that just names a few locals. There will also be a few great chefs from the great city of New York showcasing their roasting talents, such as Cesare Casella from Salumeria Rosi, Brad Farmerie from Public and Harold Moore from Commerce. I wish they had all the recipes to take home so that I can give my culinary skills a try because they sound delicious.

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The South Beach Wine and Food festival spans over 4 days and hosts different events throughout Miami aside from South Beach. You have cooking demonstrations, seminars, dinners, brunches and parties with top chefs and personalities from The Food Network. Beer and wine tastings along with a wealth of food to taste is located in the Grand Tasting tent, the biggest tent set-up right on the beach. Here you can rub elbows with many celebrities while giving your palate a treat.

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This event is quite the experience and for me I enjoy the Swine and Wine event and the Grand Tasting, definitely both are worth my money and my stomach and taste buds thank me every year. If you ever need an excuse to come visit Miami and get away from the cold then this would be one good excuse! Hog roasting and wine is the fine dining of what can be accomplished with your roasting box. Here’s to some happy roasting…

More and More Up and Coming Restaurants Featuring La Caja China

•February 6, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Being quite the foodie with a love for eating out I couldn’t help but think why more restaurants don’t offer dishes they cook in a Caja China. The Roasting Box (aka cajun microwave) isn’t only meant for whole pigs, it can be the start of innumerable delicious dishes restricted only by the creative mind of the chef. Among the most popular dishes are pork shoulder, duck, lamb, fish, and even clam bakes! The possibilities that La Caja China offers truly are endless.

I started doing a bit of research online and found that there are some restaurants who are now featuring dishes prepared in lacajachina for special celebrations. Some establishments actually cook a whole pig for Sunday brunch while others have a different item everyday on the menu. An excellent example of this growing trend can be found in Phoenix, where at The Mission and Cafe Blink, which were highlighted in The Phoenix New Times. I think this is an ingenious idea and these chef’s should be applauded for spicing up their menu and giving their guests a reason to come back. If you look at this from a business perspective it makes total sense! You, as a chef, purchase a caja asadora for roughly $189 plus shipping. You buy your meat, let’s take a whole 80lb pig, and roast it for approximately 5 hours, you know have enough meat to feed roughly 80 people or more. Give a price range of each meal anywhere from $10-25 and you have paid your initial investment your first day. How many different main dishes and appetizers can you create? That’s really up to you. Not only can you provide different foods on your menu but you can create an exciting atmosphere if you decide to bring the cooking to the front of the house and treat your patrons to the thrill of cooking with a China Box. Let them witness how those new dishes come to life by creating a treat for every sense…I would definitely make a reservation!

You will be the talk of the town by thinking outside of the box and cooking inside of the box…La Caja China.

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Superbowl Sunday + Caja China = an amazingly delicious time!

•January 28, 2013 • Leave a Comment

The greatest day in football is fast approaching, the only day even non-football enthusiasts gather to watch, Superbowl Sunday! What better way to feed a bunch of hungry football fans than roasting a pig with your very own Caja Asadora/Caja China. Imagine serving pulled pork sliders or juicy whole roast pork with rice and beans in about 4 hours!

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We have made it a tradition with our group of friends, we gather around the Roasting Box (also known as a cajun microwave) and enjoy some appetizers (usually wings, hot dogs and burgers) on our top grill while waiting for the main course. I can honestly say our party has grown each year that we actually put a screen projector outside in the backyard to watch the football game. The cajachina and Superbowl Sunday has become quite the pairing so if you need a new kick for your Superbowl party this might  be the way to go.

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We still have time to get you a new La Caja China delivered. Give us a call at (305) 967-3020 or visit us online at http://www.shoplatintouch.com.