There is nothing better on a summer's day than grilling on the patio or deck. The newest craze to hit the outdoor cooking scene is La Caja China, which is basically an oversized pressure cooker. It follows an ancient Asian cooking principle of putting charcoal on top of the food instead of underneath. This cooking technique is especially popular as a method of roasting a whole pig, which can be accomplished in just four hours. While the construction of the box is not terribly difficult, the actual roasting technique, and knowing when and how much charcoal to add, may take multiple attempts to get right.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- 2 cm (3/4-inch) thick plywood
- Wood screws
- Circular or table saw
- Drill with screwdriver bit
- Heavy aluminium or steel
- High-performance glue
- Two wheels
- Sheet metal
- Metal cutters
- Two metal racks with feet
- S hooks
- Metal lid
- Mesh grill
Cut plywood to the dimensions you've decided on for your box. La Caja China boxes come in various sizes, depending on what you are cooking. If you will be cooking a whole pig, the pig will be cut to lie open flat, so size your box accordingly. Screw the plywood together with wood screws.
Cut the aluminium and line the inside of the box. Glue the pieces of aluminium to the plywood.
Consider adding legs and wheels to the box for ease of use. Your box should resemble a square wheelbarrow.
Make a lid for the box out of sheet metal. Pound it with a mallet so there is an indentation in the centre of the lid to catch the ash from the charcoal. The lid should fit tightly over the box, with a one-inch indentation. Add handles to each side.
Cut a sheet of metal mesh to fit over the lid. This is where the charcoal will sit.
Strap a marinated pig between two metal racks, and connect the racks with S hooks. Set the pig into the box skin-side down. Add charcoal to the top of the box and cook, adding charcoal every hour for three hours. Open the box, turn the pig skin-side up. Slash the skin every four inches. Close the box back up, add more charcoal and wait 45 minutes for the skin to turn crisp.
Tips and warnings
- Wear elbow-length insulated gloves when working with the charcoal.
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