Q&A: Pork Shoulders on La Caja China


I was reading your blog about cooking on your La Caja China. I just got the Semi-Pro, same size as the #2.

When you are doing pork shoulder (8 lb’s), are you figuring about 3 hrs?

Did you follow the directions that La Caja China suggests or did you tweek it?

Also when you initially fired it up with 2 piles of briquets or lump charcoal was it the internal temp on the box quite high (like 375 degrees) or lower? Do you like using lump charcoal?

Thanks for your info, it was very helpful.



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2 responses to “Q&A: Pork Shoulders on La Caja China

  1. Mike,

    Cool, I have the semi-pro, too. I would say closer to 5 hours. A store-bought pork shoulder comes from a MUCH larger pig, that the size you get when you roast a whole pig, so it’s a lot thicker cut of meat to get cooked through. Here are some recommendations, based on my own experiences:

    1. The biggest favor you can do yourself is to pick up a probe thermometer. The ability to check the meat temp, without opening the box, is VITAL. I like to cook my pork shoulders to an internal temp of 195 for pulling or shredding.

    Then I wrap it in heavy foil, wrap THAT in a towel, and let the whole think rest in a dry cooler for at least an hour, before shredding.

    2. Another important temp control method is to make sure that you clean the ashes out from under the coal grate every couple of hours. Ash is a great insulator and an inch thick layer can easily keep your Caja China 30-50 degrees below your goal temp (225-250d).

    The catch-22 is that you need to get rid of the ashes, but you want to avoid removing the ash pan, if at all possible. I do this by lifting the coal grate and turning it sideways across one end of the ash pan, then I use a large metal dust pan (square edge) and scoop out as much ash as possible.

    Then I slide the coal grate to the other end, and remove the rest of the ashes the same way. You see the temp jump 30-50 degrees when you do this.

    3. I’ve found that the standard Weber charcoal chimney holds almost exactly 5lbs of coals, so I usually start with three of these and, yes, the temp will spike quite high at first. This is why I’ll often tent my shoulders (loosely) with foil during the first part of cooking.

    I’ve also found that if I use even a little less coal (say, 10lbs) the roaster will not maintain cooking temp. It seems that there is a “critical mass” temp that the Caja China need to reach to cook correctly.

    This is also why it’s so important to not lift the lid until you reach finished temp.

    4. I’ve never used lump coal on La Caja China. Lump tends to burn hotter and faster, which is what I’m trying to avoid with the roaster, lol.

    I only use Kingsford charcoal, as I’ve found it to have a uniform and reliable heat and burn time from one bag to the next.

    Happy to help out! Anything else?

    – Perry

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