Ask Perry


I’m Perry, thanks for dropping by my foodie blog!

I’m blessed to come from a long line of professional chefs, and I focus my love of cooking on barbeque, traditional southern fare, and fresh Northwest cuisine…but you’ll find plenty of other foods and techniques here, as well.

My two partners in meat-mayhem, Chris and Terry, round out the team of Burnin’ Love BBQ, our local catering business. My preferred hardware is La Caja China, but I regularly cook on gas grills, pit-smokers, bullet barbecues…just about anything that will hold meat!

As a professional writer, I’ve had work included in hundreds of magazines, everything from Writer’s Digest and Guideposts, to American Hunter and Bassmaster Magazine.  My inspirational stories have been included in twelve Chicken Soup anthologies, as well.

My books include the novels Just Past Oysterville, and Shoalwater Voices, an outdoor humor collection, Elk Hunters Don’t Cry, and a short story anthology, Four From Left Field.

My first cookbook, “La Caja China Cooking” hit the shelves last summer, and its sequel, “La Caja China World” will release any day now, as well.  Our Burnin’ Love BBQ cookbook, MEAT FIRE GOOD is chocked full of our favorite pit-master recipes, as well. If you’d like, you can read more of my work at, and all of my books are available at our store.

Please feel free to share your thoughts, favorite recipes, ask questions, whatever, as often as you like!

Happy Q’ing!


PS – Just a note – I’ll occasionally move longer”sub-threads” from this page, over to my Q&A folder. Folks will be able to find their posts more quickly, and we won’t end up with the “never-ending thread” on this page! LOL

If you thought you saw it here, and now it’s gone, it’s probably there.


212 responses to “Ask Perry

  1. BTW…that’s a pretty pig!

  2. Brian

    Thanks. I took the pig out of the ice chest 2 hours before it was to go into the box. Since it was still early morning temps were in the mid 50’s. By the time the pig went in I inserted a thermometer in the ham and it read 36. I think that may have contributed to the long cook time. Next time I will try to get it warmed up more. A question about that. You always read that you should let meat warm up to room temp, which in my house is usually 68, but food safety says to avoid the danger zone of temps in the 41 to 150 range. It could take a while to get to 68 from 41. Is there a safe way to do this?


  3. Brian,

    This is one of those tricky areas where I’m not going to suggest what YOU should do, but I’ll tell you what I do, lol.

    My pigs come frozen like concrete from the wholesaler and, even if I had a cooler big enough, they take several days to thaw at room temp…I can’t imagine how long it would take if chilled.

    Even after three days (bagged and boxed) I’ve had ice crystals in the meat, and trouble spreading the pig for roasting. Here’s a tip that I found online a while back. I’ve used it, and it works well to bring the pig from icy cold to room temp in a “safer” amount of time.

    Note to all readers: Again, this is not a recommendation. You should follow the USDA and FDA recommended guidelines to insure proper food safety.

    Okay, enough C.Y.A…

    The pigs I order come in giant, heavy-duty plastic bags.

    Once “mostly thawed” I put them, bag and all, in a bathtub full of warm to hot water, squeezing out the excess air from the bag, before sealing with tape. (This helps to prevent the meat from floating.)

    I don’t want the water so hot that it cooks the meat, but that is unlikely short of boiling water. The meat warms up pretty fast because the water surrounds the meat in the plastic bags and convection currents will do the rest.

    If the water seems to be cooling down, I drain it out and add some more hot water.

    I’ve brought whole 80lbs pigs from the “ice crystal” stage to 60 degrees in the center of the ham (that’s close enough to “room temp” for me!) in less than 2 hours.


    PS – I would agree that the temp was the problem. It takes an inordinately longer amount of time to cook very cold meat, than it does pre-warmed, and on a hunk of pig that big, it can actually effect the pit temp for several hours.

    PPS – I wonder what filling hot water bottles and placing them (bagged of course) inside the body cavity would do?

  4. Les

    Hi perry. I just put together my new caja china #1 and I’m planning on roasting a 60 lb pig next weekend. I want to do 2 pork shoulders this weekend to practice and I’m wondering if you have any good recipe tips. I think I’m going to get a cooler and soak the meat overnight in some kind of mojo marinade and brine and ice. I’m also curious about covering the meat with tin foil so the top doesn burn? When is the best time to do that while balancing not opening the top to let out all the heat?

    Thanks. Just ordered your book but unfortunately it won’t be here until next week


  5. Les, so sorry it took so long to get back to you. I’ve been traveling the last couple of weeks and things piled up, lol.

    One of my favorite recipes for pork shoulders isn’t actually mine, but Roberto’s:

    Pierna Criolla a Lo Caja China

    Another favorite is Gracie’s Sweet Kalua Pig

    Both of these recipes (and lots more) are included in the just released cookbook, La Caja China Cooking!

    Thanks for your order, btw!

    I usually tent (loosely) each shoulder and let it remain so until I flip them.

  6. Thanks for your comment on my blog, Dine & Devour & for the link to your blog, Ill be sure to check back regularly! And I’ll look for your La Caja China book! Have a Great weekend! xx

    I’ve “Like”ed your facebook page 🙂

  7. Rebecca,

    Thanks! I’ve added you to the blogroll, as well. Great site!


  8. Dave Bodkin

    Hi Perry

    I’ve had my Semi-Pro for a week and cant figure out where all the trays stack? After paying that kind of money the least Roberto could do is include some final instructions or post some pictures. I can’t figure out how the tray with 4 legs and 3 smaller trays fit into the scheme of things. I’m no rocket scientist but it should’nt be this hard. Do you have any pictures you could share?


    Dave Bodkin

  9. Dave, yeah…the details can be a little sketchy, lol. I’m pretty sure that the “tray with the four legs” is actually part of the “Ash & Charcoal Disposal system.”

    During cooking, this actually is used outside the box, as a place to set the hot coal tray, and to safely dump hot ashes and coals (as opposed to on the ground.) If you have the top tray that covers the box, the heavy gauge coal rack that goes on that, and the sheet metal wind-screen, anything else pretty much has to be part of the disposal system.

    This part for my roaster is actually on back-order, so I haven’t seen it yet myself, but here’s a picture of the rest pf the unit, as it arrived to me:

    If you want, take a picture of the parts you’re talking about and email them to me at and I’ll confirm this.

  10. Ed Fabian

    How do you cook pork shoulder in the china cooker for pulled pork? Do you cook it slower with less charcoal or what? What would the temperature be? I am planning on pulled pork this weekend.

  11. Ed, thanks for dropping by! See these posts on pork shoulders:

    i would aim for a box temp of around 225 degrees, until the meat reaches 195-200.

    Let me know if you have any questions!


  12. Dave,

    Yeah, that is definitely the ash disposal stand. Not sure how the additional trays fit on it.

    Looking at your other pictures, you do have the rest of the cooker assembled correctly. I’ve contacted Roberto for clarification on assembly instructions for the a.d.s.

    I’ll let you know asap.


  13. Coby L

    Hi Perry,

    I am cooking a 48 lb lamb on the caja china this weekend. Any suggestions on total cooking time, amount of charcoal, etc…? I’ve done a pig before, but I am concerned about cooking the lamb to medium-rare temperature. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


  14. Dave,

    Here are two instructions sheets I just recieved from Roberto. I think the second one, “Ash Disposal Unit Assembly Instructions” is what you’re looking for!

    Let me know!


  15. Coby,

    Thanks for your post! Here’s the recipe from my cookbook, “La Caja China Cooking.” (

    Let me know if you have any further questions, and I hope the lamb turns out great!


    Moroccan Whole Roast Lamb
    Recipe by Dee Elhabbassi

    1 – Grass-fed, three-month-old lamb around 36-40 pounds, skinned. As much surface fat removed as possible.

    4 sweet onions, pureed 2 C fresh garlic, ground
    2 C butter 2 C olive oil
    Salt to taste 3 bunches cilantro, diced
    ¼ C cumin ½ C coriander
    ½ C paprika 2 Tbs fresh black pepper

    Combine all chermoula ingredients and mix together over medium heat until it forms a paste. (Chermoula is a Moroccan marinade.)

    Allow chermoula to set overnight.

    Rub this mixture over the surface of the lamb making sure to get it evenly distributed, inside and out. Plan on allowing the chermoula to sit on the meat for 48 hours before you cook.

    Place the lamb between the racks, tie using the 4 S-Hooks, and place inside the box, ribs side up. Connect the wired thermometer probe on the leg, be careful not to touch the bone.

    Cover box with the ash pan and charcoal grid.

    Add 16 lbs. of charcoal for Model #1 Box or 18lbs. for Model #2 Box and light up.

    Once lit (20-25 minutes) spread the charcoal evenly over the charcoal grid. Cooking time starts right now.

    After 1 hour (1st hour) open the box flip the Lamb over (ribs down) close the box and add 9 lbs. of charcoal.

    After 1 hour (2nd hour) add 9 lbs. of charcoal.

    Do not add any more charcoal; continue cooking the meat until you reach the desired temperature reading on the thermometer.

    IMPORTANT: Do not open the box until you reach the desired temperature.

    Cooking a whole lamb is as much an event, as it is a meal.

    With a little planning and preparation, it’s no more complicated than cooking a whole pig. Call ahead to your local butcher (if possible, one that specializes in Greek or Middle Eastern meats,) to order your lamb.

    Plan on about 4 pounds of raw weight for each guest.

    Carving a whole lamb can be intimidating, so take it in sections. You’ll need a large area to work with and several serving dishes or big pans.

    Cut away the hind legs, then the forelegs. From here you can start carving up the individual sections.

    The meat will be very tender, so slicing should not be a problem.

    Fresh Lamb: Rare 140, Medium Rare 145, Medium 160

  16. Coby L

    Hi Perry,

    Thanks! I do have one question. Is 10 lbs the minimum amount of charcoal to get the box roasting (I think I read that in a previous post?) I’ve read on the internet that folks have been able to cook their lamb in about an hour (which is a big difference from the recommendation on the caja website) – so I don’t want to over do it. I will also use a thermometer for the lamb and interior temperature of the box.


  17. Coby,

    I wouldn’t go below the 16lbs for the amount of meat you’re cooking.

    A Caja China needs to hit a certain “critical mass” temp-wise to get the cooking going. I know that Roberto did dozens (if not hundreds) of experiments to get the right combination of initial # of coals, to added coals, to finished cooking time. It’s really a science!

    I once used just a few pounds too little charcoal in the past, by mistake, and it took exponentially longer for the meat to come to a finished temperature. (Like 8 hours instead of 3!)

    Also, I think 10 pounds might be the minimum for firing up the smaller Cajita China (Model #3), but I think you’d have a LONG wait, trying to start the bigger boxes with that.

    These have been some great questions and, if you don’t mind, I’m going to move this part of the thread out of the “Ask Perry” section, and make it a dedicated post in the Q&A folder.

    Anything else?

    Thanks again!


  18. Leslie

    Thanks for the post to my reply on Facebook. The lamb turned out great. The only issue is the internal temp. 163 after the first hour – but we let it go all the way to 194 and pulled at 3 hours exactly. It was perfect. Next one is going to be bigger.

  19. John Ucovich

    I plan to roast a 35-40 lb pig in my caja box this Christmas. I recently bought your book “La Caja China Cooking” and page 134 describes the recipe for the mojo criollo marinade. It asks to add 1 1/2 gallons of saline solution to the mix! Isn’t that much? Page 16 has a recipe that requires only 1/2 gallon of water with 13 oz salt. And the mix for this recipe is 1 part mix and 3 parts brine. Could you explain the difference between the two? Also, in warming up the pig to room temperature after the overnight marinating, do you thing placing the pig, all set to go, in the caja china box with heat lamps overhead would work? The caja box would act as a reflector to speed up the warming process. Just an idea and if it would work would beat filling up a bath tub with hot water.
    Thanks for your domments,

  20. John,

    First of all, thanks for stopping by, and THANKS for buying the book, lol!

    Great questions! I took a look at both recipes and can see where it could be confusing, sorry about that. The recipe on page 16 is more concentrated because it’s an injection brine, and doesn’t need to have enough volume to submerse the whole pig in. The recipe of page 134 is really a marinade, so it needs the extra volume. I know I listed it as both, should have been more specific. For a Mojo injection, I’d cut the amt. of water to 1/2 gallon.

    The Cuban recipe (pg 134) is also a more traditionally mild flavoring agent, whereas the pig-pickin’ is a bit more “in-your-face” (I created that recipe and I like strong flavors, lol.) I’ve also combined the two, using Cuban ingredients in the proportions listed for the pig-pickin’ injection, and then injected instead of marinated. In fact, that’s what I do pretty much all the time, now.

    I’m not sure I’d recommend heat lamps, my concern being that it could bring the outer-meat in the “bacteria zone” quicker, and keep it there longer, while trying to bring in “inside” meat up to temp. I guess if the lamps were on a fairly low heat…? I like the idea of thawing in the Caja. Maybe if you placed some warm water bottles (I’d use 2-liters) under the pig, and the low-heat lamps above, for a more even thaw?


  21. Hi Perry.

    Great book! All sorts of interesting things to cook.

    A question. We did a 9# “test turkey” in the Caja China #2 using the recommended amounts of charcoal; the box seemed to be running hot with the thighs reaching 175F at an hour and a half. Next up is a 20# turkey. Are there any adjustments I should make for such a big bird other than simply cooking it until it’s done?

    Also, the lid of the box gets so hot it melts my Nu-Temp probe wires! I was just looking at the Thermoworks website and discovered that they have a relatively low-cost thermocouple meter and a new BBQ meat probe that has stainless steel-armored wire good to 662F. Of course it’s more expensive than Nu-Temp but it’s going on my shopping list.

  22. Oops..can’t even spell my email address right.

  23. John,

    Okay, first question: how did that 9lb turn out? That’s a pretty small amount of mass for the Caja #2. I think that in the cookbook we base the temps and times on 3 12-14lb turkeys (so, 36-42lbs of meat.)

    That’s going to make a HUGE difference in box temp and cooking time. That’s more what the Model #3 is designed for.

    I think I’d do 2 20lb birds, and stock the freezer, lol. But, yes, I would absolutely recommend using a thermometer. I’ve burned out a couple of wires myself, but now I run the probe and wire through the hole that I drilled for the smoke pistol, and plug the rest of the hole with paper.

    I keep saying I’m going to thread a cork on the probe wire, but, well…someday, lol.

    I’ve also seen recommendations to run the wire UNDER the metal rail, so it doesn’t come in direct contact with the lid. Haven’t tried that.

    Lemme know how the turkeys turn out!


    PS – Do you brine your turkeys?

  24. John Ucovich

    Thanks for the response. The Food Network had a mojo criollo marinade recipe posted which is quite similar to yours however no mention of mixing with a brine for injection was made. I know that the La Caja China web site video shows him mixing a saline solution with the mojo marinade. The 1/2 gallon amount sounds about right and that’s what I’ll do. I also plan to rub some home made adobo dry rub over the pig as part of the injection marinade and overnight cooling process. Your views on the heat lamps were real good. I really think bringing it up to room temperature in the caja is the way to go. I think the secret may be in circulating warm air over the dude. That would mean rigging up a heater/fan arrangement. Also heating pads set on low temp and not in direct contact also come to mind. I plan to do the overnight marinating in my wheelbarrow in the garage with some bags of ice. December here in CA can have cool nights. Again thanks for the response and will let you know how things turn out.

  25. The little turkey turned out great. Nice and moist with crispy skin. I didn’t brine it; it was an ordinary Butterball billed as Young Turkey.

  26. I would think that the saline is the most important part. Adds a wonderful savor to the meat,, and, at the same times, helps it retain moisture so it comes out nice and juicy.

    I think the warm air idea is a good one, too. How long will a cheap blow dryer run before burning out? LOL

  27. Excellent! I always bring mine because I like the way the salt flavor is imparted directly into the meat. Also, the brine causes the turkey to retain a LOT of moisture and makes fro a much more “forgiving” turkey (ie: less likely to dry out.)

    I’ve had customers comment that they’ve never liked white meat turkey until they tasted ours because it was just as juicy as the dark meat.

  28. Pig came out very good. I cant use the word great because I prefer a different flavor and meat texture. I roasted a 50 lb pig. We injected it with Mojo marinade Friday evening and since we had a cold snap I left it hanging in the garage. It was barely above 40 degrees. Started the timer at 11:30 and the pig was done at 4PM. I believe it could of crisped a little more but the charcoal was waning down. I asked a no one was interested in knawing on the skin they all wanted “MEAT.” I do have a list for the next pig roast I do along with some cleanup comments.

    First it must be a Cuban thing but I really like a smoked flavor better so next time I’ll use the smokepistol and Butt Rub. Try to maintain a lower temperature 225’ish for a long slow roast.

    Second I dont care what others want I think knawing on the skin would be a great dessert 🙂 so next time after the flip I’m adding some extra charcoal

    Third next time I wont oil or Pam the inside of the box maybe just the roasting grid. (More with cleanup comments)

    Fourth next time a bigger pig a small big roast faster ergo a bigger pig takes longer allowing more beer drinking time.


    Cleanup notes:

    I would say RTFM but there is none ;-( The Semi Pro uses a lot of “Aluminum” not Stainless steel. DO NOT use oven cleaner, degreaser chemicals unless you want to stain the inner walls and trim around the Semi-Pro.

    I was under the impression from photos on La Caja’s website that the inside walls floors drain area were stainless and a “tub” with welded seams. Water tight if you will… It is NOT. I believe it is simply sheet metal cut to fit an affixed to plywood. Not a “Sink” as I thought. This allows water to seep out around the seams and I wonder how sanitarry that will be after 50 roast sessions?

    Cleanup in general was pretty easy I did used some Simple Green hence my warning about using a degreaser chemical. Bottom-line for cleanup is spray only the grids with PAM, and use hot soapy water for washdown.

  29. Hey everyone,

    I’m trying to win a new La Caja China in the current, “King of Pork” contest (and I’m in the lead!) Thing is, I don’t have room for another roasting box, so

    when this thing arrives (assuming I win one of the three) I’m going to give it away to someone here on my Facebook list.

    No strings attached…well, okay there is ONE little string…

    I need you to go to and click on the Facebook button to add La Caja China to your follow list.

    I’ll be able to see everyone who joined as a “common friend” and we’ll do a random drawing of those people for whichever cooker I win! I’ll even toss in a copy of the cookbook!

    Please pass this along to your lists!


  30. Warren Sloane


    Thanks for your book! It has tons of wonderful ideas. Question…I am getting my father the Model 3 for Christmas and thought it would be a great idea to cook in it for Christmas dinner…

    Wondering what you would suggest for 8 people. Looking for either some sort of beef, lamp or maybe even pork….


  31. Warren,

    Lots of stuff you can cook on the Cajita for 8!

    Roast Turkey
    Prime Rib
    Pork Shoulder
    Castillian Leg of Lamb

    If you really want to wow them with something different, I would go with Roberto’s “Pierna Criolla a Lo Caja China.”

    This is my favorite dish in my Cajita. Most of the ingredients can be found at a local Hispanic grocery, or can be ordered right from La Caja China’s website.

    I can make some substitution suggestions if you need, as well.

  32. Warren Sloane


    Decided to go with Doug’s Mock Tri Tip from your La Caja China recipe book. 1 questions.

    One big question. I am cooking about 8lbs of long should I plan it cooking before it reaches 145? Just trying to plan timing and there is no mention in the book of how long it should take.

    Thanks and Merry Christmas to you and your readers!


  33. Warren,

    Glad I stopped and fired up the laptop, lol (We’re doing the “Family Christmas Marathon” today.)

    I called Pastor Doug (his recipe) and he confirmed what I was thinking…

    I wouldn’t worry about the amount of meat you’re cooking, especially with La Caja China, as the amount if time it adds to the cooking is pretty insignifcant. I know that seems weird, but it’s proven true for me time and again.

    The key is internal temp, for best results you MUST maintain an internal box temp of between 250-275 no higher. As long as that temp is maintained, and you don’t open the box (key#2) I’d plan on 60-90 minutes to reach temp. Start watching the thermo at 60 minutes, and make sure you tent the meat in foil (off the heat) and rest for 20-30 minutes before slicing.

    If it’s really cold outside, you’ll need to babysit the Caja to keep the temp even. What I usually do it cut the amount of coals I add in half (after the initial fire-up) and double the frequency.

    IE: if the recipe calls for 10lbs every hour, I add 5lbs every 30 minutes (or 7lbs in very cold weather.)

    Lemme know if this makes sense or if you have any more questions, I’ll be back online tonight and all day tomorrow.

    Merry Christmas!


  34. Warren Sloane

    Des it make much of a difference as I plan to use the cajita or the Model 3?

    Stupid question but I guess you are using 2 for the actual meat and one just inside the box?

    Thanks and have a Merry Christmas!!

  35. Cajita might have a slightly shorter cooking time, but as long as the temps are the same, it shouldn’t make a big difference.

    The meat WILL be closer to the heat, so I would recommend tenting loosely with foil and them maybe browning uncovered for a few minutes at the end.

    On the cajita, yes, I use two thermometers, as it doesn’t have one built in. I usually just stick the second probe through a raw potato and set it (flat side down) on the rack next to, but not touching, the meat.

    Lemme know how it goes!


  36. Warren Sloane


    Thanks so much for your help. It turned out GREAT. I put some pictures on facebook

    It ended up cooking a bit longer than I would have liked as it was much faster than expected. I Forgot to tent it as you suggested so that was probably the issue.

    Will definitely try again. Thanks!!

  37. Warren Sloane

    OK…so I have a model 3 now and want to try it more and more…

    Any good ideas for a Boston Butt?

  38. Warren,

    I’ve done a bunch of good stuff on my Cajita. One thing I’ve been wanting to try is a basic pork shoulder recipe, but inject the shoulder with hard cider instead of mojo.

    Another one I’ve been looking at is doing a brisket, Mexican style, and shredding it for tacos.


  39. Warren Sloane


    Hope you had a happy new year!

    One thing I find frustrating with the Caja China and especially their website is in all of their cooking instructions there is no estimate on how much least that I could find.

    For example we are cooking a couple Boston butts but nowhere can we find anything that say about how long it takes….I know I know…BBQ is ready when its ready 🙂

    Any ideas on about how long it should take?

    Thanks TONS!!!

  40. Mark Zimmerman


    We’ll be cooking a 70# pig tomorrow and the highs are supposed to be around 40° in a number 2.

    Do we adjust charcoal or cooking time to compensate for the colder weather?

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  41. Mark,

    40 isn’t too bad. I would make sure you start out with every ounce of the recommended coal weight, to make sure that the box reaches it’s “honey spot” for you. Keeping the box protected from the wind is key, I often start mine in the driveway, and once the fire had gone out, roll it into my garage (keeping the door open, and the box a safe distance from any flammables, of course.) Also, shave 10 minutes of each “add coals” cycle, this has helped me in the past.

    Lastly, if you’re concerned about the outside temps effecting cooking time, you MUST bring the pig to room temp (or as close as possible) before it goes in the box. IMO this is, by far, the #1 reason for delayed cooking times.

    Check back in if you have any more questions, and let me know how it goes.

    Enjoy that piggie!


  42. Mark Zimmerman

    Thanks for the quick reply, Perry!

    I added a thermometer to get an internal box temp. I’ll start keeping a log so over time I can understand how the ambient external temp affects the box temp.

    Regardless, we’ll go until the internal temp on the pig hits 190°.

    Carolina pig pick’n. Nothin’ better.

    Just got the Smoke Pistol and may break it in on this one, too.

  43. Awesome!

    Hey, that smoke pistol can be a little tricky (at least, mine was, lol.) Here’s a good video:


  44. Mark Zimmerman

    Very helpful video. We’ll be patient. The more important other new accessory we’re adding is a bottle top opener. Hopefully, won’t need a video for that one!

  45. Mark Zimmerman


    Pig was great. Flurries and wind so temp felt like the 30’s. We started with 23# of charcoal, added the 10# increments at 50 minutes each, then the 12# at the half hour. Flipped. Took a bit longer to get the temp to 190°, but not too bad.

    Smoke pistol fired up fine, but I learned it will go out in cold weather if turned down to low. Managed to restart though.

    Served to a group of Aussie exchange students so they could learn what real bbq was all about. They loved it.

    Thanks for the tips.

  46. Pingback: Rob's Rants » An Arctic Luau

  47. I hope the link from my website doesn’t bring you any weirdos.

    Great blob by the way. When you’re back from your trip and I’m back from tripping out I’ll swing by and get that box of goodness and future yumminess out of your way. I can’t wait!!!!!!!!!!!

  48. Jackson T

    I just purchased your book, La Caja China Cooking, this past week and I’m planning to fire up my LCC#2 this weekend. Going to cook two 9lb boston butts and I’m hoping you can answer a few questions and give me some advice….

    I’m going to brine the butts for about 24 hours and put one of the rubs from your cookbook. You “tent” your pork shoulders from one of your posts to keep them moist….should I tent the butts in foil loosely or will the brining be enough?

    I also purchased one of the smoke pistols to use while cooking the butts. Will the smoke still flavor the meat if I do tent them loosely or do I have to leave them completely uncovered?

    Any idea how long it might take to cook these to 195F and then should I wrap them in foil after cooking, wrap in a towel, and place in a cooler for an hour like you did with the pork shoulders?

    I am shooting for pulled pork as the finished product.

    thanks for your help and love the website/cookbook.


  49. Hi Perry,

    I’m hoping you might be able to help me find a propane cook top. I’m looking for something portable that I can setup next to my home made china box to create an outdoor kitchen space. Not interested in a grill with a burner or two. Would prefer a 4 burner cook top that I can hook up to my tank.


  50. Brian, for my money, you can’t beat Camp Chef. I had my 3-burner for 10 years and it always worked flawlessly. I since passed it on to a first, who has used it hard for another five, still runs perfect. Heavy-duty, easy to clean, and lots of BTU’s.

    We use it with the Caja, as well. Another thing I like about it is that, unlike a lot of the stuff of the market, it’s pretty much all metal (no plastic) so if it get’s a little warm next to the roaster, things don’t start melting.

    Just keep the propane tank on the far side, lol.


    PS – Here’s the new one I’m planning on getting this summer:

  51. Brian,

    Just a follow-up. We did a 90lb pig yesterday, started with 15lbs of coals, and added 10 lbs every hour, and scraping* off the ashes every 2 hours (very important.) Cooked 7 hours and the pig was tender and perfect for pulling.

    Tip: Cooking this much longer, I would recommend that you tent the pig in foil for the first 3-4 hours to keep the cavity from getting to dark.


    *I’ve been using a big metal dust pan to scoop the ashes off the lid, instead of lifting the lid and dumping. I lose a lot less heat that way.

  52. Judy

    Perry, do you barbecue pigs for private parties? Hosting a large party in July and looking for someone who would take care of roasting a pig or a steamship round – or both. What would you charge?

  53. Judy, absolutely! It needs to be within a reasonable driving distance of the Portland Metro area, and I need to be able to cook onsite. If you’re interested, please email me at, thanks!

  54. Hi Perry!!!!!
    Thanks for the comment on my blog! My husband loves his Caja China and came across your cookbook on a couple of months ago and ordered it instantly. The weather in Michigan has finally turned around and we can’t wait to try out some more of you awesome recipes 🙂 Keep an eye on my blog, there will surely be lots more BBQ

  55. Sorry, I hit post comment too soon!
    I plan to feature lots more BBQ recipes and pictures soon!

    Thanks again!
    Steph @ Eccentric Kitchen

  56. Stephanie, 24/7 support for anyone who’s bought one of my cookbooks, lol! No worries on watching you’re blog, you’re already in my RSS reader, and I just added you to the blogroll!

    Thanks for dropping by!


  57. lee

    Hi Perry
    Hope you can help with some questions I have..
    I tried my la caja china no 2 at easter for the first time with a 20 lb suckling pig as a trial run with a view to doing a larger pig in the summer.I followed the instructions on the side of the box(I still cant understand how a 20lb pig has the same heat and cooking time as a 50lb pig)All was well until after the flip .The skin went black within 10 minutes and although the meat was edible it was a real let down.I have seriously thought about not doing a larger one in the summer for a family get together after the carbon disaster but somehow think it will be easier to do a larger pig with more meat.The side of the box says the maximum pig is 100lb but could you use a bigger pig but just cut its head off to get it in the box?.If so what sort of size pig could you use.Also my therometer went crazy during cooking must be due to the heat,I did put the wire under the lipping so is there anything more I can do to protect my new one.
    I would like to have pork that falls of the bone rather than sliced(I think you guys call it pulled pork is that right ?) I just wonderd do i use the instructions on the side of the box or do I use less charcoal and cook for longer.I hope you can help and Im sure Ill have some more questions soon.
    Many thanks Lee

  58. Lee, 20lb is probably a bit small for a full-size box. The smallest I’ve done in a model #1, or Semi Pro, is 42lb. RE: blackening – Typically, burning is caused by too much coal, or having just dumped the ashes and having a lot of hot coals still on the grate, this can cause a big jump in heat.

    Again, likely due to the smaller size of the pig, so not as much heat is being absorbed in the box after the flip. Probably has thinner skin, as well. I’ve never had that happen with a larger pig.

    Yes, you can fit a larger pig in the box my removing the head, but you definately want a probe temp with that much meat, and figure 3-4 hours longer to get it to the “falling apart” pulled pork stage. An 80lb pig takes us 7 hours to get to the pickin’ stage. I have a hole drilled near the base of my box for the smoke pistol. Usually I run my probe wire through this hole and plug the gap with a paper towel. (

    I think you’ll find a bigger pig to be much easier to deal with. I always follow the box instructions exactly and just keep adding coals every hour until I get a shoulder temp of 195, then flip, and let rest for 45 minutes.

    Lemme know if I can answer any further questions, and let us know how that pig turns out!


    Perry P. Perkins
    La Caja China Cooking

  59. lee

    Perry,are you saying for an 80lb pig you cook as per box instructions then instead of flippin after the 4 hrs keep adding 10lb of charcoal every hour for an extra 4 hrs then flip.Does the meat not dry up ?

  60. Lee…no, the 3-4 hours would be my guess for a full 100lb pig. For the 80lb ones I do, it’s between 2 & 2.5 hours beyond the printed instructions. Box temp runs about 225-250 (about the same as a smoker), so no drying out, especially on an animal with that much fat. One note – with the longer cooking time, I always drape the pig loosely in foil, so it doesn’t get too dark.

  61. lee

    perry would you leave the flip till the last 30 mins as usual.And would you use the foil after the first 4 hours.
    If im right for a 100lb live weight pig i would follow the box instructions then instead of the flip after the 4 hours i cover with foil and keep topping up the charcoal for a futher 3- 4 hours then flip for the final 30 mins.Is that right .
    Thanks Lee

  62. Lee, yes – regardless of the cook time, leave the flip to the end and then “peek” regularly (every 5 minutes or so) until it’s brown and crispy to your liking. Personally, I leave the foil on the whole time, as there’s nothing much to “brown” on the bottom side of the pig.
    Yes, follow the roasting instructions and then add 2-4 hours for “pullable” pork. However, the meat temp is far more important than the cooking time, so a wired probe is invaluable here. 195-200 = perfect pulled pork.

  63. lee

    Hi Perry
    I have been looking at some dual probe thermometers but before i invest would like your opinion.My last single probe therm was damaged on the flexible wire through the heat even though i put it under the metal lipping.could i pass it through a hole drilled in the side of the box,i presume this would cure the problem.Also if i bought a dual probe could i put the second one through to just read the la caja china box temp.What is the best temp range to cook a 100 lb pig i can take coals off or add them to suit.
    Thanks Perry…

  64. I like to use two single probes as they work as a back-up system for each other. If one goes out, I have a back-up for the meat. As you mentioned, I run mine through a hole near the bottom of the box that I fill with a piece of Styrofoam, works great.

    I aim for 225-250, just like with pork shoulders.

    I used two of these probes:

    I also used this dual probe a time or two (not mine) and it works great:

  65. Craig L. Brown

    Hello Perry,
    My name is Craig Brown, of Millies BBQ Sauce, we have tow sauces Millies Sweet & Tasty, and Millies Sweet & Spicy. My wife and I have placed the sauce into 116 stores in the Midwest, St. Louis Mo area. We are looking to expand across the U S. We recently just a The Barbecue News contest best sauce on Chicken 1st place and The sauce on Pork 5th place. I would love to send you a bottle to try out in the near future. I put a respond about how to wood from Cuba. My contact infomation e-mail address is

  66. Perry,
    Just bought the Caja China book. I’m going to get a lot of mileage out of it this summer! I’m planning on trying the Cuban stuffed turkey recipe with the Caja China this weekend. Is the bird actually supposed to be stuffed? If so, what would you recommend? I have a lot of tough critics to please! Thanks.


  67. lee

    Thanks for your last reply perry,i have just been reading the above posts and when you mention you have done a 90lb pig etc are you talking live weight or dressed.Also here in the uk we dont tend to inject our meats so can you tell me if using a brine solution makes the pork taste salty.What are the benifits of using the brine ?.
    Thanks again Lee

  68. Lee, you bet! 90lb is the “dressed” weight, ie: ready to go in the box.

    As far as injections, it’s all a matter of what you consider “salty”. You certainly don’t need to salt the cooked meat, but it also in no way off-putting, as long as you follow a tested recipe.

    Brine, because of the salt content, will give greater flavor than a marinade, the salts open the proteins in the meat and they absorb more moisture, so brined meat will be juicier after cooking. (And more forgiving to over-cooking!)

    Personally, I think that pork benefits best from both marinating AND brining. Think of it as two separate techniques, the injection moistens and flavors the deep muscle tissue, while the marinade adds flavor to the exterior of the meat, and to the skin. For a whole pig, I’ll typically do a “dry marinate” ie: a thick spice paste, or a dry rub.

  69. Anonymous

    Wow perry thanks for a great answer, I certainly am going to try the brine solution.Do you use charcoal briquettes or lumpwood charcoal ?.I used lumpwood on my suckling at easter and from what I have read it may have well contributed to the high temps.
    What are you thoughts ?
    So looking foward to pickin this pig oink oink

  70. My rule of thumb is to use lump for high-heat-direct grilling (steaks, chops, etc), and briquettes when I need a slow burn, or on top of the box (where flavor isn’t in the equation.) Honestly, it’s never been a big deal for me.

    As long as I don’t use lighter fluid (and a lot of it) I can’t really tell any difference between lump and briquettes. I’m a lot pickier about the whole pellets vs. real chunk wood debate, as I CAN taste something “off” in pellet smoke.

    May sure to check back in and let us know how that piggie turns out!

  71. Tom

    I I posted this twice I apoligize

    Perry ,
    I have enjoyed your blog. I have not tried my Caja China yet I have the 70 Lb size I think thats a #1?? Anyway
    I am having trouble finding a small Pig ( less than 40 lbs.) Locally or online. Do you have any suggestions on where to locate small pigs. I tried specialty meat places no one could help.
    I found 1 website that has suckling pigs but it’s almost $11 a pound. That is a bit steep I thought.
    This weekend I am going to try a mix of 1 8lb Butt and 4 Whole Chickens.2 racks of ribs. I didn’t find in your book how to do different kinds of meat. Could you explain how to roast multiple kinds of meat in one box? Do I put everything in at the first and then pull it out as it gets done Or add it along? Oh and I plan on brining and using a rub on the butt and use different methods on the chicks. I may try the Mojo sauce on one
    I hope to maintain about 255 -270 d F in the box for as long as it takes to roast the Butt. Any insight will help. I think i read that when the butt gets 195 d F turn and brown the other side till it gets to ( this is the part I don’t know ) _ _ _ d F ?? I am still a noob at this Thanks

  72. Tom, thanks for dropping by! Where are you located? The two places I’ve found in my area are a Japanese Grocery called Uwajimaya, and a restaurant supply store called Cash & Carry ( Also, check with your local grocery store’s butcher (Safeway, Albertsons, etc), sometimes they have access. The restaurant supply is going to be, by far, your best deal. Ig pay about $2.20/lb for whole pigs, and $2.90/lb for whole lamb. If you can’t find one in a local search, talk to the owners of a local (non-chain) restaurant or coffee shop, they should know.

    FYI – finding a pig under 40lbs is going to be rough, and insanely expensive, as it’s not cot-effective for the farmer’s to sell them at a normal per-pound rate. You could probably get a 50lb cheaper, and have left-overs. Asking around at your local farmer’s markets can be a good bet, as well.

    I typically don’t do multiple meats in the box, at the same time, but I know some folks on the Facebook page have. I’ll usually do one meat inside the box, and another on top. Still, most recipes start with the same instructions, so:

    1. I would recommend investing in a digital probe thermometer for EACH meat, so you can track their progress without opening the box. Make sure to run the wire UNDER the metal rail, not over it, or you’ll burn it up.

    2. I would try to time it some that everything get’s done at the same time, but be aware that you’re going to add some cooking time, likely up to an hour, by opening the box multiple times.

    3. Correct 195 for the butt (this will “hold-over” cook to 200, which is “pullable” pork. Don’t worry about tracking the temp after flipping it, it’s cooked, you’re just browning the skin at that point.

    4. I would tent the chickens and the ribs loosely in foil the whole time to keep them from burning. Just remove the foil for the last 10-15 minutes to brown.

    La Caja China should be posting an article of mine in the next day or two that has some more helpful tips. Let me know if you have any more questions!

    Good luck!


    Perry P. Perkins
    La Caja China Cooking
    La Caja China World

  73. Anonymous

    Thanks Perry
    I am in Kentucky near Nashville. I know now why it’s hard to find small pigs< 40lbs. They aren't available anywhere!. I will go to some similar places yoou suggested
    After reading this I may cook the ribs on top and Butts / Chickens in the box.
    I have one probe already
    I was thinking of making a couple of small holes and insert the meat Thermo's in one and a inside air temp in the other so I woun't burn the wires up. Also on here I read someone put a beer opener on theirs. Sorta of pimp out my box ! I will seal the holes with something.
    I am going to try a smoke pack in foil inside. Not sure if it will work but I will try it anyway until I get or build a smoke generator of some type Has anyone tried this?
    I will tent the birds I'm glad I read about that . Didn't see it anywhere else ..
    Wish me luck!

  74. Sounds good. I usually do my ribs on top, as well. I also run my probe wire in through the hole I drilled for the smoke pistol (when I’m not smoking) and then stuff a chunk of cork in the hole to fill the gap, works great.

    La Caja China used to have a custom bottle opener to screw on the side of the box, but I just went to the website and looked and can’t find it there. I have one I’ve never used that you’re welcome to, just tell me where to ship it.

    I’ve never used a smoke-pack (I have a box of them, but keep forgetting, lol) I sometimes put the top grill inside the box (over the food) and then put a small tin pan of wood pellets on top of that. The rack keeps them close enough to the bottom side of the fire pan to smolder nicely. Best of luck, take some pics to post on the FB page!

  75. BD

    Hi Perry, great site. I’ve read through all of the Q&A topics but can’t find one addressing what dressed weight of pig do you need to feed “X” amount of people. Do you have a formula for example how large of dressed pig to feed 80 persons? Thanks.

  76. BD – that’s amazing…I swear I was just going to post this today, lol! Here you go…

    In general for pork:

    Live weight 100 lbs.
    Dressed (72%) 72.5 lbs.
    Eatable yield 50-52 lbs.

    I base my calculations on “dressed weight” because that’s how I always buy my pigs. Remember, this is a generalization, pigs (like people) can carry widely different ratios of muscle, bone, and fat.

    I plan 3/4lb per person (dressed weight) for “mixed groups” (Men, women, and children), or potlucks with lots of side dishes.

    I plan 1lb per person (dressed weight) if it’s mostly men, or if I’m just serving pulled pork sandwiches as the meal.

    Hope that helps!


    Perry P. Perkins
    La Caja China Cooking
    La Caja China World

  77. Tom V

    The Roaster did a wonderful Job on the Chickens and Butts. I only used 1 thermometer and monitored a chicken till they were done then I monitored the Butts. Did one rack of ribs on the top and finished them inside the box. The other 2 racks were cooked on the smoker grill.
    Sausage on the top grill and a Pinapple on the spit.
    It was really good. Lots of meat leftovers.
    I willpost pics on face book soon

  78. Tom, sounds awesome! Wow, that’s what I call a mixed grill!

  79. Tom V

    The fourth of July Weekend we are going to roast a 100 lb pig in a 70 Lb box. The butcher we are getting the pig from said he could quarter it and take the head off.
    100 lb was the smallest we could find in as short time. Working gets in the way sometime.
    If we quarter it and take off the head and feet I am thinking the quarters will fit in tot he box ok. I just hate to lose the ears and cheeks (8o( I am planning the same roasting time as a 70 lb pig but it will probably be different way of cooking. ? Any thoughts ?
    The mixed grill was a hit now I will be busy for the next few weeks. !!

  80. Tom, I don’t know that I would worry about quartering the pig. If you cut off the head and the lower legs, I think the pig would fit (I’d invest in a hacksaw, just in case, lol). I’d ask him to bag the head and keep it with the carcass.

    Season, run, marinate (whatever) the head, the same as the rest of the pig, then wrap the whole head in foil and put in in the box wherever it will fit (or roast it in the oven.) IMO, some of the best meat on the pig, is on the head.

    I’d figure about the same roasting times, as it won’t be a 100lb pig, after all that trimming. Maybe pad your estimated cook time by 30-45 minutes, a little extra resting time isn’t going to hurt.

  81. wendy sietman

    Hey Perry

    I am thinking about making stuffed mushrooms with crab and stuffing what would you recommend? and i would love to know how to make seafood chowder but you know my family very picky so veggies are pretty much x out lol

  82. Tom V

    Hey Perry
    We are getting our first pig tomorrow. Awwwww . Anyway the butcher said the pig is skinned not “blanched and dehaired” like I thought it would be. The pig looks like the pictures on you site and LA Caja China site. It this what you get when you buy a pig ???
    I think the botcher( Freudian Slip ) The Butcher said it is about 120 lbs, it was supposed to weight less than 100. So I hope it fit without too much “customizing”
    I think we are going Luau to pickin temp .
    Wish me luck. I will try to post on FB Saturday.

  83. Anonymous

    Tom, if the pig is “skinned” you would see actual meat (muscle) tissue, and it would be evident where they cut around the feet, legs, and head.

    If it looks like the ones we post, your butcher needs to go back to school…because it has NOT been skinned, and HAS been blanched and dehaired (is there visible hair?)

    If you can, post a picture to our Facebook page: and I’ll tell you for sure.


  84. Tom, if the pig is “skinned” you would see actual meat (muscle) tissue, and it would be evident where they cut around the feet, legs, and head.

    If it looks like the ones we post, your butcher needs to go back to school…because it has NOT been skinned, and HAS been blanched and dehaired (is there visible hair?)

    If you can, post a picture to our Facebook page: and I’ll tell you for sure.


  85. Ignacio

    Have a couple of questions that I would appreciate your input on. I, being Cuban born, am a Caja China cooking method fan. I started cooking with mine (Caja Asadora) a few years back and have been loving it. My first, or really only question is, if when you smoke with the Caja China does it leave a permanent smokey flavor on your other foods when cooked non-smoking in the same Caja China? That is to say if the smoking residue will permanently affect the Caja?
    The reason I ask is that I am doing a build on a Smoker/Caja and was wondering if the dual use will negatively affect the unique Caja cooking flavor.Look forward to your opinion.

  86. Anonymous

    Hi Perry
    Its only a week to go to the big party and with my new thermometer arriving today thought i would ask what temp i should aim to get the inside of the box to.Also what would you set the min and max temps to.I am going to drill through the side of the box for the probes but wonderd how far up from the bottom you would drill it.
    Thanks in advance Lee

  87. Lee, based on our previous conversation, you’re roasting a whole pig, right?

    If so, you’re shooting for a box temp of between 225-250, but I wouldn’t worry about it if it runs a little higher. Follow the instructions on the box, exactly, and you’re pig will be perfect. If the want a “pickin’ pig” just continue adding the amount of charcoal the instructions say, every hour, until the temp in the thickest part of the ham (rear leg) reaches 195-200, around 2 additional hours. Do this BEFORE flipping the pig, and be sure to tent the whole pig loosely in foil, from the start.

    I drilled pretty low, about 2 inches from the bottom, as I wanted the hole to be below the level of the bottom rack.

    Lookin’ forward to the report!


  88. Anonymous

    thanks Perry your a star !!!!!!

  89. lee

    hi perry well at last ive picked up the pig today it weighs in at 99 lb with its head removed.We plan to eat for 2.00 so will take it out to rest at 1.00 what time do you think i should start to cook for pulled pork.I was thinking of lightin the coals at 4.30 and racking them out at 5.00 giving me 8 hrs of cooking time.How does that sound to you?.
    Cheers Lee

  90. Lee, that’s exactly what I would do. That way, if you reach 195 early, you can always pulled the pig out at at 11:30 or 12pm, and it will still be serving temp at 2pm.

    Lemme know how it goes!

  91. lee

    Hi Perry heres the results….The coals were lit at 5.00 and started timing from 5.30.I added the 10lb after an hour but after an hour and a half the oven temp was only 130 and I heaped on about 18lb of coals to get it up to the 230 area.Once i had reached it to maintain the temp i had to scrape of the ashes every half hour
    and add coals,it took 10 hrs to get to the 195 and the result was if i say so myself a perfectly cooked 100lb pig the meat was so moist it fell off the bone
    and the cracklin was to die for.Wow how much better is this than a normal
    spit roast .I would like to say thank you for your time and patience in your
    posts and for helping me out.when we served up we allraised our glass
    and toasted”perry perkins” If the wind was in the right direction you may
    have heard us.Thanks for all your help Lee

  92. Lee, awesome! Sounds like a great time was had by all…congrats on a perfect pig!


  93. I attempted Doug’s Mock Tri-Tip recipe and it only took 20 minutes for the chuck roasts to reach 145d. Should I tent the meat in foil to slow down the cooking process?

  94. James, that’s strange…starting with 10lbs of coals and cooking 5min per side over direct heat, a 2inch thick roast typically takes me about 45 minutes to reach 145d in the box. What was the outdoor temp?

    I wouldn’t tent with foil, as there’s no reason to slow down the cooking.

    How did they turn out?

  95. Chris Martin


    I am planning a 100 lb pig cook in about a month. I bought your book “La Caja China Cooking” and it has been a tremendous help! I do have a few questions; In the “Memphis Whole Pickin’ Pig” section, the instructions call for 3 cups of rub, should I double that for the 100lb pig? Also, how much baste should I inject in a pig that size? Should I still follow the 1 part baste with 3 parts brine ratio listed in the instructions?

    Also, I will want to cook a couple chickens along with the pig (for the “non-pork” eaters!). Any tips on how to cook them along with the pig? I do have a grill that I can set on top of the Caja China to utilize the coals.

    Thanks alot for the help!


  96. Chris, glad you like the book!

    The rub amounts for “Memphis Whole Pickin’ Pig” are based on a 70-80lb pig, so I don’t think you need to double it for a hundred-pounder. Maybe just adjust to 4 cups. Same with the baste/brine.

    I wouldn’t try to roast the chickens inside the box. Firstly, there’s not going to be much extra room with that big of a big, plus it might really throw off your cook time by lifting the lid to add them, check them, brown them, and remove them. I would spatchcock your chicken (cut out the backbone) and grill it on top over a three-zone fire (having the “cool” area in the middle is less likely to effect the cook time of the pig).

    One of my favorite chicken recipes is the Cambodian Grilled Chicken in “La Caja China World.” Since you own the first book (thanks again!), feel free to shoot me an email, if you’d like, and I’ll reply with that recipe. You can also modify this one:

  97. Tom V

    I agree with Perry about the Chickens there won’t be room.
    I did a 130 lb pig awhile back It was still cold in the hams. If you probe it and it is still in the 40 – 50 degree range Start very early and have lots of Charcoal. It seems to get exponentally longer to cook when it is cool and so large. It took ours 10 hrs and 88 lbs of charcoal. we only removed the lid to tent it and once to flip it. I Strongly suggest an electronic probe throught the side of the box into the meat if you are going over 70 lbs.
    And last What exactly is a “Non Pork eater” (80D LOL

  98. Chris Martin


    Thanks for getting back with me so quickly! I would like to try out your Cambodian Grilled Chicken. I sent you an email to your address.

  99. Chris Martin


    hahaha… a “non-pork eater” is someone who shouldn’t be invited to a whole pig roast! But unfortunately, I am in charge of cooking… not the guest list!

    Can you elaborate on your tent-ing technique (how, when, and at what temps)? I have only cooked one pig in the box before and it was only about 55 lbs. It took just a few hours and I wasn’t worried about it. This “big boy” has me a little worried!



  100. Chris, your recipe is sent!

    I agree with Tom, starting with a “cold” pig is a recipe for trouble. I always let mine come to room temp for an hour or two (as long as you’re comfortable with) cooking goes MUCH faster!

    Big pig…small pig…doesn’t matter. The box does all the work, just have extra charcoal and a few more ice-cold beers at hand and you’ll be fine!

  101. Tom V

    I tented the pig after the first couple of hours, it had started to get fairly dark so I just pulled 2 sheets of foil down the whole length of the pig. We just laid it on top without wrapping it around the pig. I left it on there till near the end and I took it off when I flipped it over. It fell apart while filpping it lengthwise. it was too big to clamp in the racks so we wrestled it by gloved hands. Really messy.
    Since this pig was 130 lbs we removed the head and one shoulder to get it in the box. It was on top of one rack .. We fed 30 – 35 people, It was so hot some folks didn’t make it. So we still have leftovers !! That was really pushing the limits of the #`1 I probably won’t cook that big of pig again. I prefer mixed grill or a pig less than 50 lbs.
    Couple of weeks ago me and a friend cooked a leg of lamb a sirloin roast a brisket and a rack of beef ribs. took quite a bit of management but it was all very delicious.. The beef was grass fed and pampered so the meat was marbled nicely. No additives or rubs.a bit of salt only. (suprisingly good ) laid the ribs in the bottom of the pan under the other cuts of meat.
    Only took an hour for the lamb and the sirloin bit we left everything else in the box without adding charcoal for several hours. I will do that again.
    Plus y friend had an Iberico type ham foot on prosuittio style ham from Newsomes in Princeton Ky. ( read book pig perfect) plus some wines from the 60’s It was a day no one that was there will forget . Oops got off the subject, I tend to do that when talking about food.
    Best thing is monitor temp in the ham when its done (185 f) it will be ready to pick.
    I gotta stop now I am starving all the sudden.
    Post on here how it went . I would like to hear you adventure .

  102. Hello Everyone, when you slow roasting the pig, use a smaller one maybe 35-50 pound pig, season well with all your spices and rub. But please use Millies BBQ Sauce.

  103. Josh


    I’ve been debating the merits of La Caja China for a couple months now (my wife is sick of me talking about it!!). I think the only way I can justify the purchase (to my wife) is if I can use it to cook ribs, briskets, pork butts, and maybe even mass quantities of burgers. As such, I have the following questions that I hope you’ll be willing to help me with.

    1.) Have you used the smoke pistol that the La Caja China folks sell on their site? I’ve read blogs where folks use a pan of wood chips inside the unit, but would like your opinion. If you’ve used the smoke pistol, will you please comment on it’s effectiveness? If you’ve found another way to smoke meat with La Caja China, I’d love to hear about it.
    2.) I see you mentioned that Cuban pork is done tender, but firm. How do ribs turn out? I’m really looking for ‘fall off the bone’ ribs. I see that many people use La Caja China to cook ribs, but I haven’t seen any pictures/videos that show that the ribs are really tender.
    3.) How do pork butts turn out? Right now, I use a combination of a Smokenator (a clever addition to a Weber Kettle grill) and my oven for a total of 16 hours (at 220 degrees) and the butts literally fall apart. They are amazing. I’m confident that the pork butts that come out of La Caja China are great, but I’d really like to know if it will be possible to get the type of results I get from the smoker/oven.
    4.) I’m look at the #2 unit. I know you have the Pro, but are you able to comment on the durability of the wooden units? Are they sturdy? Structurally sound? Etc? any info you have on this would be helpful.

    I’m already very thankful for all the information you’ve provided on ‘burninlovebbq’ and countless other sites, so if my above questions are too cumbersome, I totally understand. If you are able to answer them, I’d really appreciate it!!


  104. Josh,

    First of all, thanks for dropping by!

    I hear you…I think my wife’s final word on the subject was along the lines of, “Just buy the freakin’ thing already!” LOL

    1 – Smoke pistol: Yes, I’ve used it, as well as the pan method, and a couple of others. You can see my full review in this post:

    2 – Ribs. Yup, I do low and slow ribs, both beef and pork in my La Caja China, and have several great recipes in my La Caja China cookbooks (

    For beef ribs, see this recipe:

    3 – I know exactly the method you’re referring to, as I did it the same way for years. Butts and shoulders are my #1 use for my boxes, and I’ve cooked many dozens of them, both for myself and for customers of our bbq catering biz. I can smoke 6-8 shoulders at a time in the larger boxes. I inject and rub, then cook to 190, then wrap and rest. Shoulders come out perfect. Search this site for “shoulders”, there are a bunch here, and more in the cookbooks.

    4 – I have the Semi-Pro, two of the model #2 units, and a model #3. My first box was a model #2. It’s five years old, and we’ve done about a dozen pigs, 25-30 shoulders, 18 turkeys, 20-25 briskets, a couple of lambs, and a bunch of chickens in it, and it’s still going strong. I need to replace the firepan, but that’s because of user error (I backed over it with my truck and tweaked it, lol.) If you’re in a low-humidity area, I recommend keeping it covered and it’s fine to store outside. I keep mind the the garage, as I live in Oregon.

    Hope this helps! I love answering questions about La Caja China, and barbeque in general, so keep firin’ away! If you haven’t done so, make sure to download my free ebook, La Caja China Guidebook, here –

    Thanks again!


    Perry P. Perkins
    “La Caja China Cooking”
    “La Caja China World”
    Burnin’ Love BBQ

  105. Josh

    thanks a lot Perry. Your review of the smoker was exactly what I needed. Based on your recommendation, I ordered my La Caja China (and your cookbook from Amazon) yesterday. I really can’t wait to get started. I’ll let you know how it goes!!

  106. Josh, excellent! (and thanks for the cookbook order)…let us know how it goes, we’re happy to answer any questions!


  107. Rick

    I’m doing my 4th pig on the La Caja China for our annual Ugly Sweather/Pig Roast Christmas party. I’ve done the Cuba injection the last couple of years and now looking for something new. Maybe a brine with apple juice or a rub coating the whole pig. Any suggestions?

  108. Anonymous


    Thanks again for your guidance. I made the beer can chicken recipe from your cookbook (can’t remember the name) last weekend and it turned out great (direction from the cookbook was dead on). The whole family loved the chicken and the leftovers make for a great week of lunch!

    My A-Maze-N smoker will be here tomorrow and I’d really like to try smoked pork butts this weekend. In order to achieve the ‘fall off the bone’ tenderness that results from 16 hrs at 220 degrees, should I just use the cooking instructions that you have in the cookbook for other butt recipes? I assume that the method needs to be altered, but I have no idea where to start.

    Do I need to use less coal to start with and then add less incrementally each hour (relative to the instructions in the cookbook)?
    Do I need to monitor the temperature inside the box? and if so, do you have any tricks for managing the temperature inside the box (seems like doing this could be very difficult).
    I’m not necessarily looking for a recipe, just the process/method.

    Any instruction you could provide would be greatly appreciated. As I’ve mentioned before, I certainly don’t want to be a pest, so if you cannot spare the time to respond here, I totally understand.


  109. Josh


    Thanks for your guidance. I made the beer can chicken recipe from your cookbook this weekend and the results were great (I followed the cookbook to the letter). The whole family loved the chicken and the leftovers make for a great week of lunches.

    My A-Maze-N smoker should be here today and I’d like to try a few pork shoulders this weekend. Your instructions above are great, but do have 1 follow up question: about how long does it usually take for the shoulder to come up to 190 degrees? I assume that it takes several hours, but I’m trying to plan a bit, so I was hoping you could narrow that down a bit.

    Overall it sounds pretty simple (something I loved about the chicken recipe), but if you have any other helpful hints on smoking shoulders (i.e. what flavor of wood do you use?), I’d love to hear them.

    Thanks again!


  110. Clint

    Ordered the amazn smoker as well.we will be doing a 40 lb pig this weekend, first time to try to smoke a pig. We usually just rub the pig down and use olive oil and roast, comes out great. Do we need to brine to smoke? and do we need to tent the pig too? I will leave off one of the side covers for a vent for smoking. any added time to cook?

  111. Clint, great! Congrats on the amazn smoker, you’re gonna love it! I don’t usually brine my pigs, but that’s because they are usually in the 90lb range. I can’t imagine that brining a 40lb could do anything but make it better. I wouldn’t start out with the pig tented. If you start smelling something suspicious, have some foil ready to tent (very loosely) just the effected area.

    I always leave a rail off and it dosen’t seem to effect the cook time, but I do long roasts, so that might make a difference. Adding 20 minutes couldn’t hurt.

    Let us know how it goes!

  112. The pork shoulders you’re going to roast are a LOT thicker than what’s going to come on an 80lb pig. 6-8 hours minimum.

    Strongly recommend injecting 4-6 hours in advance of roasting, then let them come to room temp and run generously with bbq or Cuban rub.

    I like to smoke shoulders with a blend of apple and hickory.

  113. Anonymous


    I am going to roast another whole pig in my la caja china next week. I would like to do it hawaiian style (kalua pig). All the recipes I come across in this style use pork butts. I would like to use a whole pig somewhere around 40lbs. Do you have a recipe, tips, and/or advice to roast a whole pig hawaiian style in my la caja china?

    Please help.


  114. Try pecan and cherry wood and also Millies BBQ sauce.

  115. Scott, couldn’t be simplier that kalua pig. Use the instructions on the box for the smaller size pig. Inject thawed pig with a brine of 3 cups brown sugar, 1 cup salt, 1/2 cup Stubbs Mesquite liquid smoke (my preferred brand) and 4 cups of water. Inject the whole pig and allow to sit several hours, coming to room temp. Brush the skin side with a little more liquid smoke (or, do what I do, and use the A-maze-N smoker), and cook per the instructions. FYI…the sugar is my add, traditional kalua pig would be just salt and smoke.

    A completely NON-traditional (by extreemly popular) add would be my sweet sauce for serving on the side. See here:

  116. Haparide


    Thanks so much for the quick response and info. Planning to cook it next week and will keep you posted on how it came out.

    Love the blog, keep up the good work.

    Thanks again,

  117. Jody R

    I am going to be roasting an 80 lb pig in about 3 weeks and am going to use the phillipino recipe from the la Caja china World and was wondering about brining. The recipe doesn’t call for a brine but what are your feeling on brining before starting the recipe

  118. Jody, first of all, thanks for picking up a copy of La Caja China World! While I can’t see where brining can ever do anything but make a pig better, I’ve never brined an 80lb pig (I usually inject the big ‘uns, and save the brining for 30-40lbers.) If you brine, I would suggest a very simple sugar/salt brine (Ratio: 1.5c sugar/ 1/2c salt / 1 gallon water), as you don’t want anything masking the subtle and wonderful flavors imparted by the lemongrass and plantain in that recipe

    Also, here’s a tip that’s not in the cookbook – to get that skin super crispy, position the pig in an open area while bringing it to room temp (just before roasting). Point 2-3 fans to blow directly on the skin-side of the pig. If you’ve injected the pig, rub the skin with some fine sea salt before starting the fans. If you marinated, you don’t need add salt to the skin. The drier that skin gets prior to roasting, the crispier it will turn out.

  119. Rick, I like to inject with equal parts apple cider and cider vinegar. Toss in a little salt and maybe some garlic. Baste the meat side of the pig generously with the same just before closing up the box, and save some to sprinkle on the chopped meat. You might try the Fillipino Lechon recipe from La Caja China World, as well. I think that’s what I’m doing for Christmas.

  120. Clint

    Pig had a good flavor, put a dry rub on the pig and left off one of the ends on the caja china. Temperature started at 300 degrees and settled in at around 270 degrees. The pig cavity still got real black, maybe I need to cover with foil. Also the amazn smoker burnt real quick, I had it on top of the pig on a piece of foil. I t was totally gone by the flip time. The skin did not crisp like It usually does, maybe the dry run affected the skin, or maybe the temperature was too low. No smoke ring, but it did have a nice flavor and was moist. Any other tips on how to do this?

  121. Josh

    Hi Perry,

    I’ve been going strong with my roaster. I’ve done chickens, pork shoulders, and yesterday did a brisket. I’m definitely learning as I go, but so far everything has turned out great.

    I’m having one issue however with my A Maze N smoker. I’ve used it twice now and in both cases, despite starting the unit per instruction, once in the roaster, all of the pellets smolder at once rather than slowly burning though the maze. On my second attempt, I tried tenting the smoker with foil to keep the heat away, but it didn’t work.

    I’m sure that the issue is that the roaster is too hot for the smoker, but I’m following the 10 lbs of coal/hour formula, and don’t want to deviate and have the cook time go long.

    Any ideas?



  122. Well, I’d suggest placing the smoker dead center of the box, and then keeping the coals a bit thinner in that area. The middle of the pig is the thinnest part anyway, so it shouldn’t require as much heat.

  123. Karl law

    Perry, have your cookbook, can you tell me about mojo chicken. Does it go on the racks or in a pan? This is my first time using the caja china box. Thanks!

  124. Karl, thanks for your post (and for buying the book! lol) The Mojo Chicken recipe, as shown in La Caja China Cooking, is meant to be roasted inside the box. I typically put the spatchcocked chicken on a low rack in a pan. Add a little apple juice and cider vinegar, or beer under the rack. Like this:

    Mojo Chicken

    Also, you could just as easily follow that recipe right up to the cooking point and then grill it, as I do with my Lazy Chicken recipe, here:

    Let us know how that Mojo Chicken turns out!

  125. Chuick mSchlarbaum

    How much charcoa and times for al for a #3 ?

  126. Chuick, what are you cooking in the #3?

  127. JOE


    My wife purchased a La Caja China #3 for X-mas. Is it possible to do a 18-20 Lb pig in this box?


  128. Joe, congrats on your #3 roaster, I’ve put a LOT of miles on mine, and love it!

    20lb pig? Absolutely! Pigs, like people, tend to come in different shapes, even at the same weight. So, if you find yourself with a “long” piglet, you may need to remove the head (which you can actually set in the abdominal cavity and roast, barbacoa style.)

    Here are the basic cook instructions for this size pig, from my Balinese Babi Guling (spiced roasted pig) recipe in “La Caja China World.”

    Instructions for Model #3:

    Bring brine/injected pig to room temp.

    Place piglet on a rack in a low-sided pan, skin-side down, and place tray with meat inside the box, and tent very loosely with foil. Cover box with the ash pan.

    Add 5 lbs. of charcoal and light up. Once lit (20-25 minutes) spread the charcoal evenly over the tray. Cooking time starts right now (write down time).

    After 1 hour, scrape away excess ashes and add 4lbs of charcoal.

    After 2nd hour, open the box and toss the foil, and connect the wired thermometer probe in the thickest park of the ham (rear leg), close the box, scrape away excess ashes, and add 4lbs of charcoal. (You can brush with additional marinade at this point, as well.)

    Continue to add 4 lbs. of charcoal every hour until you reach 190F-195F on the meat thermometer. Flip pig and brown 10-15 minutes, peeking every few minutes until skin is a deep mahogany and looks crispy.

    Remove piglet from La Caja China and allow to rest, tented loosely in foil, for 20 minutes before carving.

    Make sure to download my free ebook of La Caja China tips, as well:

    Good luck, let us know how it goes!


  129. JOE

    Thanks for the response and info Perry. I cant wait to roast my little piggie but first im going to start small and do some ribs and a pork shoulder.
    till I get it down right. Also when doinng the 18-20 lb pig in LCC#3 I would still put it in between the two racks with the S hooks correct? I will be sending pics when its done. THANKS AGAIN

  130. Joe, the #3 doesn’t have a rack system like the bigger boxes (at least, mine didn’t.)

  131. Carol

    Is your mother-in-law, Dixie, (see by any chance from Indianapolis? I found the same recipe in a 1985 Indianapolis Junior League cookbook called Winners.

  132. Nope, my MIL hails from Oklahoma.

  133. What gauge metal would I use to make ash tray for a Caja China?

    I have alredy constructed the box and lined it with Marine Aluminum.


  134. Wilram, so…disclaimer…I am NOT a “do-it-yourself” kinda guy, lol, so a lot of this is Greek to me. But here’s a PDF I found that seems to have pretty good details on a build-your-own caja china. It lists 16 gauge for both the charcoal tray, and the interior drip tray. Hope this helps.

    Post some pictures of your project, we’d love to see it!


  135. Thanks, Perry. Will send some photos real soon.


  136. Rich

    I would like to make ribs in my la caja china and a-maze-n pellet smoker. Is there any way to reduce the temp. inside to box.

  137. Rich, thanks for your post!

    The temps in the lower half of the box (where the ribs would be) only run around 225/250…if you need to go lower than that, you can always use less charcoal, or remove the end rails from the box. Covering the meat with a layer of foil would reduce temps, as well.

  138. Rich

    Thanks for the help. What type of wood pellets would you suggest?

  139. For beef ribs I like to use a blend of oak and hickory, for pork I use apple.

  140. Rich

    I was thinking of using equal parts of hickory, apple and pecan. What do you think?

  141. Okay, so I hope this doesn’t get me written off by the “purists” lol, but honestly…when blending woods, I can’t really tell much difference. Mesquite vs. Alder? Sure, I can taste that, but the subtleties of “two parts this, to one part that…” are totally lost on me. It all tastes like smoke, and that’s good…’cause I LIKE smoke, lol.

  142. John Dawson

    How does the pellet smoker unit work inside your La Caja China unit with no air flow?

  143. I remove the end rails from the box, this creates a 1/8-1/4 inch gap at each end, allowing the box to “breath”. – Adds maybe 30 minutes to the overall cook time for an 80lb pig.

  144. I want to send you a couple of photos of my project. What email address should I send them to?

  145. Angie

    Perry–I’m getting ready to purchase my first La Caja and had the smoking unit in my cart–but reading your post about the a-maze-n pellet smoker–you talk about leaving one side of the la caja open—is this something you can do on the non-PS series (though I’d love a PS series–for my back yard I just can’t quite justify it–YET hah)? I tried to find pics but for some reason my browser would keep re-directing me somewhere else—THANKS MUCH!

  146. Angie, congrats on the new LCC! Yes, all of the “plywood” models have removable end rails. I use the A-MAZE-In smoker in my Model #2 all the time!

    Welcome to our blog, feel free to drop by with questions and comments any time, we’re happy to help!

  147. Angie

    Hi Perry—I’m sure this has been asked and answered multiple times but hoping you can answer again—though I got the LCC #2 so that I could feed all my friends–there will be times I want to cook smaller amounts of food—what are your tips for smaller food batches (i.e.7 lb prime rib and a 5 lb pork)
    Thank yoU!

  148. Angie, that’s a tough one. I’ve experimented with partitioning the space within my model #2, but the results haven’t been post-worthy. I have a model #3, as well, so it’s pretty handy for that.

    Typically, if I’m cooking something smaller, that doesn’t justify the coal usage, I’ll use the top-grills and just light a fire at one end of the box. I do this a lot when camping with our church, as I’m using it to feed both the group and my own family.

    I guess the short, and less that satisfactory answer is, if you’re going to be doing a lot of small-batch roasting, a #3 is pretty handy.



  149. Angie

    Thanks Perry…that’s what I thought….hmmm how to “sneak” a 2nd box into my family….. :)…..for now will use LCC for lots ‘o food and the weber for smaller batches. I live in Seattle and have read that it cant be out in bad weather but that’s pretty much most of the year. So understanding it would impact charcoal burn, can it be used in “Seattle drizzle”?
    And last, I left the end rails off to allow air for the A-maze-n smoker that I got…but do you put them on when you aren’t using a smoker (to keep heat in)….ok I’m done pestering now..ha

  150. Now that you have discovered the a-maz-n pellet smoker, will you be including some more recipes that include this product in your new book? (You are working on a new book, right?)

    Willie Ramirez

  151. Perry,
    If I use a Rib Rack like the Brinkman 9007, what changes should I make in cooking them in a Caja China style cooker?

  152. Jim Wilmott

    I’m stumped on one of your recipes Page 23 La Caja China Cooking-Southern Roast Turkey. You have1 1/2 cups of salad oil and 3 cups of melted butter but I can not figure out what when and where those ingredients come into play..I plan on doing 4 birds for Saint Paddies days so need your help. Thanks

  153. Jim…that’s so weird! I just pulled my copy off the shelf, and it reads:

    “Put your frozen turkey in the bucket, and fill with water until you have totally submersed your turkeys, put a weight on each turkey to hold it down. Cover your buckets with towels and leave your turkeys like that over night.
    Take the turkeys out of the water the next morning, rinse them clean, and pat dry. Combine oil and melted butter and rub generously on the birds, including inside, and as far under the skin as possible.
    Sprinkle turkeys generously with pepper and paprika both inside and outside, and bring to room temp.”

    If you’re doesn’t read exactly like that, please let me know asap…I’ll need to make a phone call to the printer!

    Thanks for the heads up!


  154. Jim Wilmott

    No Sir, Pat dry then sprinkle missing the other part…
    Thanks for the help
    the data on the book is;
    (print edition 1451598017) ean-13:9781451598018

  155. Joe

    How long would it take to make ribs in LCC#3.
    Also how long for a pork shoulder?

    Thanks for the help.

  156. Angie

    Hi Perry…well rain or shine ( have covered area in case of rain) the LCC takes its maiden voyage this weekend….going relatively small for the first round…..3 racks of pork ribs and 2 12 lb turkeys. I understand all the variables that make an answer tough, BUT, can you tell me roughly how long the turkeys could take… guess is 2.5-3.5 hrs depending on outside temps and how long it takes me to flip ‘n bast (which means top is off the cooker)…..just curious if I’m in the ballpark….THANK YOU!!!

  157. I think 3-3 1/2 hours should do it. I’d skip the basting and just brine the and roast breast-down, then you don’t have to remove the lid during cooking. Outside temps, at least in my experience (and I can speak down to 17 degrees, lol) should be too much of a factor, maybe budget an additional 20 minutes, just in case. The birds will stay hot way longer than that.

    Here’s the best brine I’ve done yet:

    Let us know how it goes, and post pics to the LCC Facebook page!


  158. Fred Wilson


    I’ve enjoyed using my model #2 La Caja China roasting box. Due to the size of my family, different types of meats have been cooked simultaneously to maximize cooking space but received with mixed results. Please provide any comments or recommendations on cooking spare ribs and whole chickens and pork shoulder and whole chickens.


  159. Fred,

    First of all, thanks for posting! As much as I would love to give you a happy answer for this, I’m not going to sugar-coat it…after much trial, error, and mixed results of my own, I can’t recommend cooking different types of meat, especially those with significantly different cook times, in a roasting box. My exception to this rule, is briskets and pork shoulders, as they both turn out pretty good in the same cook time.

    That said…

    If I were going to cook something like whole chickens with pork shoulders, I’d count back from the time the shoulders would be done, subtracting the cook time for the chicken from that total, so you know when to add it, and then adjust the total to allow the box to come up to temp (that’s key). Example:

    – Pork shoulder will be done roasting at 6pm
    – Chicken requires 50 minutes (I’m just throwing in a number)
    – Add 20 minutes for reheating of the box*
    – Chickens need to go in the box at 4:50pm

    *Try to time it so that you’re adding fresh coals just about 10 minutes before opening the box back up, so the heat-spike will speed up the box re-heat.

    Remember the three commandments:

    1. No peeking! (Leave the box closed as much as possible)
    2. Bring meat to room temp before you start cooking
    3. Clear away the ashes often, to decrease their insulating effect which works as a heat-block.

    I use a large metal dust pan, and a wide drywall mud spreader to scrap away excess ashes, so I don’t have to remove the lid to dump them.

    Hope that helps, let me know how it goes!


  160. Tom

    I roasted 4 Chickens 2 Butts and pork ribs all at once successfully last season. I used a probe thermometer to monitor the chickens when they got almost to the right temp ( you be the judge) I opened the lid set it sideways on over the butts to help save some heat. We flipped the chickens over and replaced the lid for about 20 mins. we repeated the lid and removed the chickens. We then inserted the probe into a butt and closed it back up. I added some extra charcoal ( about a pound every 15 mins to area over the butts for 1 hour and did the ash management sooner than recommended,~ about every hour for the next 2 hours. But I don’t remove the lid. A square shovel does the trick. I left this until butts reached 200 f then flipped them. left them until they were done. Now the ribs. They were under the butts that were on the rack the whole cooking time.On Heavey duty foil. they cooked in their own juice plus the chicken and butt juice with onions garlic and lemon slices on the foil in the juice as well. The butts were rubbed with my recipe. and the chicks only had salt and pepper. It all turned out delicious. This was not standard operating procedure for barbeque but the La Caja China cooker is not just any barbecoa.
    It took a bit longer but it was worth it. Hope this helps

  161. Anonymous


    I just purchased both of your books via kindle as I am roasting a whole pig in my La Caja China this weekend. I would like to do a Kalua flavored pig but also want to brine it. I found a variation to the recipe in your cookbook on your blog, which I have listed below. I plan on using the blog version. I have three questions.

    (1) Do I need to add any additional sugar to the brine base (1.5 gallon water + 13 oz salt) which is then blended to the Luau Mojo recipe (listed below)? The reason I ask, is that most brine recipes I have seen contain quite a bit of sugar and yours doesn’t call for it. I am assuming there is enough sugar in the OJ and pineapple juice but just wanted to confirm no more sugar is needed.

    (2) I have done four pigs in my Caja China and one turned out to be way too salty after brining; it was not edible it was that salty. I followed a brine recipe that called for 1.5 cups of salt and 0.75 cups of sugar for every gallon of water (nothing out of the ordinary). I brined for 3 days as well as injected. I want to avoid this disaster again. Does your recipe below intend for the pig to be injected with the combined salty brine/mojo solution? Or is it to be only injected witht he mojo and soaked in the brine? My plan is to inject the combined solution (mojo & brine) as well as soak the pig in both for about 16 – 20 hours. Please let me know if I have interpreted this wrong.

    (3) Lastly, I really want the smoke flavor to come through – I have had trouble with this in the past. Please let me know if there are any additional tips you have; I know givng the brine more time would help but unfortunately I am somewhat limited in my schedule.



    This is my variation of Roberto’s Cuban Mojo. “Real” luau pig is typically seasoned with just salt and liquid smoke. I like the sweet, Polynesian overtones that this marinade/mop adds to the pork.
    1 C orange juice
    1 C pineapple juice
    ½ C mesquite liquid smoke
    1 Tbs oregano
    1 Tbs minced garlic
    1 tsp cumin
    3 tsp salt
    4 oz. of water
    Mix all the ingredients and let it sit for a minimum of one hour.
    For marinade/injection, add the above recipe to 1 ½ gallons of water, and 13 oz. of table salt.
    Blend all ingredients and let it sit for a minimum of one hour, strain and inject, or place meat in a cooler and pour marinade to cover overnight.
    After injecting/soaking the pig or shoulder, apply a salt rub all over the meat, use Kosher Salt or Sea Salt.

  162. Q

    Thanks for taking the time to read this!

    I have a quick question:
    We are roasting a 70 lb pig in a La Caja China Roaster.

    My partners mother in law is Cuban and tells us that there is an old Puerto Rican recipe that calls for REMOVING the skin from the pig prior to roasting, then seasoning the meat, and placing the pig back “into” the now separate skin, then roasting as usual.

    Now I am not a fan of this, but I figured I would ask if this is something you would suggest? I mean, might it dry out the meat?


  163. Scott, great question! In fact, I liked it so much, it’s today’s post! LOL –

  164. Greg

    Perry.. Love your Blog. Anytime someone can make grilling, smoking and BBQ bigger and better.. it is a good thing. Though you and your readers might like to know I ran across a great grill giveaway. Free stuff is always a good thing. Not only is this company giving away a grill BUT they are giving away Allen Brothers gift certificates. Had to share that. I just want to pass along something I found .. if it is inappropriate for your blog please delete. Thanks for being bad@ss with BBQ. Here’s the link to the grill giveaway I found.

  165. Rich

    Perry, what would you suggest for sides at a pig roast?

  166. Tom

    Brow sugar cinnimon and a rum soaked pinapple on the spit on top of the Caja. Its delish

  167. Eric wheeeler

    Ive recently purchased a La Caja China and have been trying to control the oven temperature by regulating the amount of coals i have on top at any given time. To help, i purchased a grill thermometer from the local hardware store, drilled a hole in the middle of the box and stuck the end through. However, i quickly realized that the thickness of the side wall prevented the threads on the probe to stick into the inside of the box which prevented me from securing the device in place with the wingnut that came included. Since the probe was still sticking out inside the box i didnt think it would be a problem. I added two loads of hot kingsford charcoal out of my charcoal chimney to the top of the box and the box temp never made it over 200 degrees according to my newly installed thermometer. It seemed a lot hotter so i stuck a probe thermometer into the box, and as additional precaution added another grill thermometer directly to the grill grate. When i checked all three thermometers they all had different readings of roughly 200, 300, and 400 degrees. Now im just confused and dont trust my thermometers. I suspect that the newly installed side thermometer is reading low because the wingnut isnt attached to the back (not sure though), and i suspect that the the thermometer i had sitting directly on the rack was reading high cause of its contact with metal. I did a new test with a pototoe half on the grate with a probe sticking into it and the wire coming out of end of the box. I had both end pieces removed as i was also experimenting with the Amaznpellet box that you recommend. I added hot coals from one charcoal chimney and spread them out evenly over the top of the box. I watched the temperature rise on the digital thermometer over the couse of 30 min or so up to about 286 degrees where it peaked. I looked at my installed box themometer and it never made it over 200 degrees.
    I will continue to experiment but i was a little surprised by my results so i thought maybe you had done similiar tests and would be able to give a few rough estimates and answer a couple of questions.
    1: if i follow the reccomended guidelines of 18 pounds of charcoal, what is the inside temperature of the box?
    2: how much coals should i use to maintain an oven temp of 250?
    3: do you have a box thermometer installed and does it give accurate readings. Does it have threads long enough to secure the nut on the inside of the box?
    4: do you monitor oven temp? If so, what is your preferred method?

    I was very surprised that one chimney full (5lbs) of coals was providing me 285+ degrees of heat (I immediately wondered if my probe reading was accurate but have not had time to do another test run to compare results). If i use the recommended 18 lbs Of charcoal than it seems as though i would be cooking at temperatures of 500+ degrees!

    I know ive thrown a lot at you, but tailgating season is right around the corner and i want to be able to use this box to its fullest potential! Any comments would be greatly appreciated!


  168. Eric, thanks for the questions! I’m heading out this minute to start cooking for my little girl’s birthday, but I’ll be all over your post when I get back. I think I can help!


  169. Eric wheeeler

    Ok thanks, i look forward to hearing from you!

  170. Chris

    Hey Perry,

    I’ve reached out to you in the past asking for advice on a good turkey stuffing, and your advice has proved VERY successful. Thank you. I’m trying out my Caja China for the first time within the month, and I have a couple of questions, that I cant seem to clarify.
    1. I noticed on one of Caja China Youtube posts, that they suggest rubbing a combination of saline solution (?) and adobo on the back of the pig when marinating. Do you also recommend this? If so, what would be the best proportions for a 60 lb pig? If not, what kind of rub/salt would you recommend? How much?

    2. After picking up my dressed/butterflied pig from the butcher. How do you go about cleaning the pig before marinating it? One suggestion was washing with a hose/bathtub, and scrubbing it with coarse salt and thoroughly rinsing?

    3. And finally, should the pig be at room temperature when MARINATING it? I know it should be when it goes in the Caja China, but there seems to be conflicting opinions.

    Any help in these matters would be greatly appreciated! Thank You. Enjoy the rest of the summer.


  171. Chris

    Hey Perry,

    I’ve reached out to you in the past asking for advice on a good turkey stuffing, and your advice has proved VERY successful. Thank you. I’m trying out my Caja China for the first time within the month, and I have a couple of questions, that I cant seem to clarify.
    1. I noticed on one of Caja China Youtube posts, that they suggest rubbing a combination of saline solution (?) and adobo on the back of the pig when marinating. Do you also recommend this? If so, what would be the best proportions for a 60 lb pig? If not, what kind of rub/salt/oil would you recommend? How much?

    2. After picking up my dressed/butterflied pig from the butcher. How do you go about cleaning the pig before marinating it? One suggestion was washing with a hose/bathtub, and scrubbing it with coarse salt and thoroughly rinsing?

    3. And finally, should the pig be at room temperature when MARINATING it? I know it should be when it goes in the Caja China, but there seems to be conflicting opinions.

    Any help in these matters would be greatly appreciated! Thank You. Enjoy the rest of the summer.


  172. Ty Covey

    Perry – I’m cooking a 100-pound pig over Labor Day. This will be my second one in the Caja China. The insturcitons on the box say you can cook a 100-pounder in 4 hours, but in some of the threads you refer to cook times of 6.5 to 7 hours for a pig that size. I want the pig as tender and pickable as possible, but also want to be able to plan when we will serve it. Should I plan on 4 hours or 6-7? And if I go 6-7 hours, do I still add ten pounds of charcoal every hour?

    Separate questioon: I used a digital probe to track the meat temp last time, but the temp spiked very high early, which worried me and caused me to elevate the coals (put bricks under the corners of the grate), which may have been dumb. Should I expect the meat temp to spike early on? Maybe I just used the probe wrong.

  173. Yes, if you want “pickin’ pig” give it a solid 7 hours in the box (and maybe another hour of resting time). Yes, continue to add the coals every hour and remove ash every other hour. Basically, just add four hours into the middle of the printed instructions, and then follow the rest.

    Re Probe: Yes, the meat may spike…just keep follow the instructions. It will spike, hit a LONG plateu, and then slip over into the “sweet spot” for the last hour or so. I’ve stopped even using a probe unless the weather is very hot or very cold out. Otherwise, I just follow the instructions and it comes out perfect every time.

    Note: Make sure you save that amazing broth in the bottom of the pan. God gave every piggie just enough fat to baste the pulled pork when it’s done, lol. I usually mix in a little salt, pepper, and apple cider vinegar with the broth, mix well with the pulled pork, and let it rest, covered, 15-20 minutes to soak up the goodness.

    Let me know if you have any other questions, and come back and tell us how that pig turned out!


  174. Chris, welcome back!

    There are tons of rubs, marinades, and injections you can use. Honestly, I just give it a healthy coating of coarse sea salt, maybe after a brush of soy sauce, and let ‘er cook. After flipping, and scoring the skin, I give another brush of soy sauce, and then a brush of oil to help the skin crisp.

    Pig should arrive from the butcher ready to roast. No additional cleaning should be required.

    For a marinade to do any good, the pig needs to be submerged in it for 6-8 hours, minimum. Personally, I think that’s too long to be at room temp. I usually let it warm up after I take it our of the marinade. Honestly, I never use marinade anymore, it’s a big messy hassle. I’ll occasionally inject, but seldom even do that anymore. I like my pig to taste like pig.

    Have a great roast!


  175. niki

    HI Perry, can you help me out? I bought your book La China cookbook and I love it….I have cooked many an pig and a few turkeys..I love the recipe with the frozen turkeys – My problem today…I let my jackass friend borrow the cook book and the cooker, he only returned the cooker…..could you please email me the way to do the turkeys…….I don’t remember the whole process and I can’t buy the book as a Kindle version… fault for not assuming he returned everything ! ugh!
    my email is below! THANKS

  176. Niki – SO sorry, I just found the email for this question! I don’t see an email for you…? Post it, or send it to and I’ll hook you up! – Perry

  177. Rod


    I have a caja china model 1 using for the first time in 3 weeks for about 80-90 people. The oficial website says model 1 is for up to 70 lb pig. you say in your book that model 1 is up to 100 lb. Not sure if 70 lb dresse wt pig will be enough finishe meat. I am wondering about throwing in a couple pork butts too for good measure. Is this insadviable or if ok how would you do it.

    Thanks- Love your Caja China book


  178. steve

    I did purchase your first book centered around La Caja China. I am wondering if you can give me some advice. I am doing my very first pig roast and will be using La Caja China. I will marinate (inject) with Mojo 12 hours in advance. I will follow La Caja China cooking instructions but also want to use the smoke pistol I purchased from La Caja China.
    First do you think the Hickory chips would conflict in taste withe mojo marinade?
    Does the smoke pistol add heat as well and reduce cooking time?
    Do I need to pick up the ash /charcoal grill to let some heat out?

  179. Steven,

    Thanks for your email!

    I’ve never smoked a pig while using mojo (have done both, many times, separately), but I image it would taste awesome! I don’t actually use the smoke pistol any more, but I have in the past. Here are some of my posts related to it:

    Hickory should be fine, though I usually use an oak/apple blend. The smoke pistol will not add any additional heat, so no reason to adjust the roasting time, or release heat. You will, however, need to remove the end rail (whichever is furthest from the smoker). This should leave a ¼ inch gap to allow for air flow and smoke to escape.

    Be sure to download my free La Caja China tips e-guidebook, from the blog –

    Let me know if you have any more questions, happy to help!

    -Chef Perry

    Perry P. Perkins
    Executive Chef & Menu Designer

  180. Angie

    Hi Perry–well it’s time to get my favorite outdoor cooking toy out of the shed! I’m having a “Butts Around the World” party in a few weeks—making Kalua pork, Cochinita Pibil, traditional American bbq pork and an Asian spiced pork—do you have any good Asian rub/sauce mixes that would work for this-everything I find online is for butts you can spray and mop during cooking—-any help is appreciated!! I have your cookbook for the china box but didn’t see what I”m looking for in there!

  181. Angie,

    Your timing is perfect! Here’s a recipe I worked on all winter, and it’s a big hit!


    2 Tbs. onion powder
    2 Tbs. ginger powder
    2 tsp. cinnamon
    2 tbl fennel seeds*
    8 whole star anise*
    12 whole cloves*
    3 tablespoons kosher salt
    3 Tbs. red pepper flakes (opt.)
    6 Tbs. brown sugar
    *Grind these from whole, in a spice grinder.


    1/2 cup Thai fish sauce
    1/2 cup lime juice

    Optional, but recommended: I like to butterfly this shoulder, brush all sides with the fish sauce/lime juice, sprinkle inside generously with 1/2 of the rub, and then spread the inside with 1/4 cup each: fresh mint leaves, fresh cilantro, and fresh basil, all chopped. Roll it back up, and tie securely with 4 strings, and sprinkle the exterior with the rest of the rub.

    Let me know how it goes! (I LOVE your theme!)

    -Chef Perry

  182. Angie

    Thank you so much Perry—-that sounds delicious and I’m sure it’ll be a hit!! Will send pics and post on the LCC facebook page—it’s a big big world I can see this being the 1st annual Butts Around the World event so put your international thinking cap on as I’m sure I’ll ping you again!

  183. Angie

    One last question—approximately what temp do you try to maintain in the box?

  184. steve

    Thannk you Perry. Very helpful. I am just confused that with the smoking pistol that I purchased for La Caja China I also needed to purchase an inside thermometer temperature as well as as a meat thermometer for the food I am cooking. That is why I thought the smoking pistol also creates heat. The whole pig should have an internal range of about 190 degrees.
    What should the range of temperature be for inside the box with inside thermometer temperature? What do i do if the temperature exceeds the recommended internal temperature? Do I lift the tray and let some heat out. Or is this an isssue I really never worrry about if I use the correct amount of charcoal. I would assume with the one 1/4 inch gap I will have on the opposite side of the smoker will let some heat out and may take a little longer to cook like maybe anoter 20-30 minutes.

  185. susan jasiewicz

    Do I use a 9×9 pan for the Spam pineapple upside down cake? Thr pan in your picture looks like a 9×13. If I use the bigger one, do I change the ingredients?

  186. Susan, yes…that’s a 9×13, I double the recipe for the party, but, if you need to make that much, I’d suggest using two 9×9 pans.


    Chef Perry

  187. Anonymous

    When the mojo recipe calls for 1TBS of bay leaves should I grind the bay leaves then measure out 1TBS? Or use a certain number of whole bay leaves?

  188. Glen gurevitch

    Hoping this is where I ask a question. Having 150 folks over. Cooking pig, in box and also having grilled leg of lamb and a shrimp boil. Thinking of cooking a pig along with either butts or shoulders together to have enough pork. Ever do both together and what size pig and Shoulder/butt would fit in together? Have the large caja china. Thanks!!

  189. I’d figure 2 whole dried leaves for 1 Tbs.

  190. Glen,

    Thanks for your question, brutha!

    Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it. The size of the shoulders/butts you’re going to find at the store are going to be from a LOT bigger pigs than the one you’ll be roasting in your caja. Because they’re so much thicker (and denser) than the on-pig shoulders, they’re going to take a LOT longer to cook. I’d recommend doing the butts overnight (we have a great oven method over on our page: and time them to rest, chop, and mix it in with the chopped pig.

    I’ve done this dozens of times and it works great (in fact…don’t tell anyone…it makes the finished dish better!)

    -Chef Perry

  191. Glen gurevitch

    Thanks so much. Great idea! Well now that I have you, also thinking about cooking 8-10 (7lb) marinated legs of lamb on the grill over indirect low heat wrapped in foil the whole time and just browning at end if need be. Any advice and how long and at what temp do you think. Wanna come? Couple kegs and live band! Oh and your secret is good with me.

  192. Pingback: BBQ Tip #22: The Minion Method – Easy “Low and Slow” BBQ | Embers and Flame

  193. Wes

    Good Afternoon, We recently purchased a #1 Caja and have been experimenting with some ribs and chickens for friends and family, but the one problem I have is that most of the time we are cooking for 2 and dont need to cook such large amounts of food at a time, I have looked all over the web and through various cook books but dont see anything about cooking smaller amounts on the caja, like 1-2 racks of ribs or a pork shoulder. So far I am working on trial and error for charcoal amounts and cook times as well as covering items with foil for the initial cooking to keep them from turning to charcoal and have had relatively good success, but any insights or tips you canoffer would be greatly appreciated.

  194. Wes, I wish I had a better answer for you, but there really isn’t a cost-effective method for cooking small amounts of food in the larger La Caja China models.

    You’re going to spend a lot of charcoal keeping all that empty space hot, and it’s going to want to cool down fast, making it difficult to maintain a constant temp. I have a model #3, as well, and it works great for this, but short of building some heavy, metal dividers that would reduce the amount of space you’re heating inside the box (sort of a “box within the box”), there’s just not much you can do to change the fact that the larger models are designed to cook large amounts of meat.

    Thanks for stopping by, and if you come up with something, please let us know!

    Chef Perry

  195. Chef Perry,
    Thanks for sharing all this, what an amazing resource! I have a question about cooking brisket in the caja china. I found a recipe on the website [] that says you can cook “as many as 6 briskets” and the cooking time in the recipe is only 5 hours. Is this accurate in your experience? I’m planning on cooking 90 lbs! Is there a brisket recipe in your book?
    Thanks for any help

  196. Frances, I’ve never used that recipe, but that’s about the same about of time I use to do 50lbs (3 full packer briskets). About 5 hours cook time plus 60-90 minutes resting wrapped. My full reply was getting lengthy (shocker!) so I just went ahead and pulled the brisket-related recipes from my cookbook, La Caja China Cooking, and created a little PDF “e-Report” for you titled, “How to Smoke Briskets in La Caja China”.

    You can download it for free, here:

    Please let me know if you have any other questions, I’m always happy to help…and let us know how those briskets turn out!

    -Chef Perry

  197. Matthew Ford

    Hi Perry,
    You’ve created a terrific resource here. Thank you.
    A puzzle for you. I’ve got to cook 30lbs of Brisket, 10 chickens, 10lbs of beef ribs as part of a competition. The only way I can do that kind of volume is with my caja china. My provisional plan: Get the briskets going – aim for the 160 (4-5 hrs?), foil and then leave at the bottom of the box. Add beef ribs (they won’t say if they are back or short(!), so assuming short) and restart the CC. I’m hoping that the ribs and the briskets will hit the 190-195 mark around the same time. I’ll then rest them both in a cooler, and then start the chickens. I’m estimating that the total cook will be in the 10 to 12 hour range. Have you ever tried anything this daft, and do you have any suggestions? Thanks! (side note: All of this meat is to feed the masses for the peoples choice. The judged meat will be cooked separately).

  198. Matthew, thanks for your question! No, I’ve never done that…but if I HAD to, I think I’d do it exactly as you suggest.

    You’re right, the resting period in the cooler is going to be key. I would also suggest “pre-heating” the box: fire it up, let your coals gray, and the add the meat to the box just before you spread the coals. This will jump-start the cooking on your briskets by a LOT.

    Have you done chickens in La Caja China before? If found that thin skinned meats like chickens and turkeys really need to be watched closely, as the burn easily. I tent each chicken loosely with a piece of foil (all separately, you do NOT want to create a heat block with a big piece of foil, believe me, lol). Remove the foil 5-10 minutes before you think the birds are about done. Note: Do not “shake the ashes” off right before you brown the birds. The major heat spike will blacken ’em for sure, especially if you’ve brined or rubbed them with anything sugary.

    The only other thing I can think of is just make sure that all of the meats are as close to room temp as you’re comfortable with, before they go in the box. Makes a huge difference in cook time and finished quality of the meat.

    Let me know if you have any more questions. Good luck!

    Chef Perry
    Burnin’ Love BBQ
    MY KITCHEN Outreach

  199. Leo


    I’ll be purchasing an aluminum #2 soon. Their site says it’ll hold up to a 110lb live weight pig. What would that yield once dressed? What would it yield once cooked?

    Also, what is the largest dressed pig that you have put in a #2? I’m feeding a lot of people and would like to maximize the space.

  200. Ray

    Perry…..I have 100lb pig dressed… long do you think it will take to get to 195?? 6-7 hrs or more like 8-9hrs?

  201. ChefPerry


    If you’re looking for “pull-able” pork (and at 195, I’m guessing you are, lol), I’d say 7-8 hours. Be sure to cover loosely with foil at the half-way mark, and flip 2 hours before done.

    Chef Perry

  202. ChefPerry

    Leo, I’m SO sorry…I never got notification of your question!

    Figure dressed weight (including head) at 75% of live weight. I usually plan 1lb dressed weight per man, and 3/4 per woman. Biggest I’ve squeezed in, without head (cooked that separate) and hocks, was 145lbs.

    Remember, pigs (like people) carry their weight differently. A “long” pig is easier to deal with (just chop off the head, lol), a “wide” pig, is more problematic, as you only want to lose so much of the leg meat.

    Hope that still helps, let me know!

    Chef Perry

  203. Ray

    Thanks Chef Perry!! Just got pick today….mix up at butcher that’s why it’s 100lb….I have it on ice in the box and was going to get it out about 4hrs before cooking to bring box temp up to normal and to bring pig to closer to room temp…..saw that tip in your book! Think that’s enough time? Also, so are u saying around 4hr mark tent foil on it? Two more questions…follow same charcoal instructions?? should I flip at a certain temp or just about 6hr mark?

  204. Ray

    Oh and head is off and I had to cut off some of the legs too so it would fit….so I’m guessing 90-95lbs without head

  205. Nicholas

    Hello Chef!

    I have just picked up your book and it had many great tips and recipes within. I recently purchased a La Caja China Semi Pro model (the one with diamond plating on the outside). We were eager to try it out and therefore couldn’t wait to get started. First we wanted to make ribs. We picked up 5 racks of baby back pork ribs and followed the directions according to the box. The ribs were “fall of the bone” but not quite juicy and didn’t tear of the bone like a rib should. Many also seemed to be burned. The second item we made in the box was a boston butt. We wanted to make pulled pork. Following the directions exactly we managed to get the butt to the proper pulling temp but the outside more so burned rather than created a delicious bark. Could it be that we need to adjust the amount of coals that the box calls for? Have you ever had these issues.

    We are cooking a half a pig this weekend. (Just one half of a butterflied hog) should weigh at about 60-70 lbs. We are wanting for this pork to pull. Do you have any tips on how to best achieve that. It seems that the four hours La Caja China suggests is for slicing or chopping the pork. Is that true?

    Also how hot does your box typically get when roasting butts, ribs, hog etc? It seemed that our box, which has a thermometer included on the side, hovered right around 300.. We usually cook pork shoulders at 225 and they turn out great so we were thinking maybe that the temp was just a touch too high. Need some experienced advice, please!

    When you say you loosely tent a type of meat let’s say a shoulder, do you wrap it or just lay foil over the top of the shoulder. Although when you say to tent a whole hog you say to do it for the first 3-4 hours does that mean if i’m wanting my hog to pull I need to open the box to remove the foil? Or should I just leave the foil draped over the pig the entire cooking time until it is time to flip?

    What is the best temp for pulled pork? I’ve seen everything from 185-205.. thoughts?

    I hope my message was clear and I hope to hear from you very soon! You have put together a terrific blog!

  206. Wes

    Good afternoon Chef,
    We purchased our box #1 about 2 years ago and have been really enjoying it since, I have also added 3 of your books including the latest one to our cooking arsenal as well. We finally decided to add the #3 box to our collection recently as well and with that being said I have only had time to use the little box 3 once so far for 2 racks of ribs ( Which turned out great) but we are gearing up to do a 10.3lb Bone in New York Roast for our family supper for Christmas, so I just thought I would reach out and see if you had any tips for charcoal amounts or cook times for a roast that size. Thank you for your time and expertise.
    Merry Christmas from Arizona.

  207. Captain Ron

    Perry I understand you are in Oregon. I also am from Oregon. I am very interested in the La Caja China pig roasting box. I would like to see one and learn how it works before I purchase one. Would it be possible to drop by and have a look or are you going to be doing a pig in one in the near future that I could come and observe.

  208. ChefPerry

    Captain Ron,

    So sorry for the late reply! Just found this notification. I’ll be roasting a pig in Canby on March 12th, and you’re welcome to drop by and check out the process.

    Also, if Battle Ground Washington isn’t too far of a drive, I have the Model #1, Model #2, and the Semi Pro, you’re welcome to borrow one for awhile to test it out yourself.

    Let me know,

    Chef Perry

  209. ChefPerry

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