Author Archives: hautemealz

La Caja China = Lots of smiles!

Whole roast pig

La Caja China rocked it at last month’s Sparks of Hope camps!

Sparks of Hope Boys CampAs part of our MY KITCHEN Program, we taught cooking classes during the days, and then did a pig roast feast each Saturday night. “Knights of the Round Table” for the boys (no utensils, lol), and “Island Luau” for the girls.

For these young survivors of horrific abuse, anything that brings a smile to their faces is a major victory, and there were LOTS of smiles at the feast!

Thank you Roberto and La Caja China for being a faithful supporter of our work with these kids, and for helping us bring a smile to their faces.

And, of course, the pigs were awesome!

Chef Perry
Burnin’ Love BBQ

Carving a whole roast pig


Filed under In The Box Recipes

Cooking small amounts in a big La Caja China

barbecue (308x400)Our SimplySmartDinnerPlans friend (and La Caja China brutha), Clem, asks…

“Chef Perry. I am going to try a pork butt on my #2 la caja china this weekend for my fantasy football group. Can you advise me on the amount of charcoal to initially use for a single roast in this unit?

The la caja china recommended 18#’s seems like a lot. The tip you offered on your whole pig la caja china made sense to primarily cover the ham and shoulder areas with coals, so I thought the same for a pork butt.

BTW I am going to roast a whole pig for the first time soon and your terrific video has given me a big confidence boost. Thanks so much! – Clem”


Clem, you’re certainly welcome!

I wish I had a better answer for you on roasting a pork butt in a model #2, unfortunately, I’ve never tried that.

Here’s the challenge: you’re going to have so much extra empty space that will have to maintain cooking temperature, that while you may need less coals to get it to temp at first, in the long run you’re going to need MORE coals to keep all that empty air hot. A whole pig, or several shoulders/butts, take up a lot of mass, and once they start to warm up, they help keep the ambient temperature up.

Without that mass, it’s going to be a constant fight.

Here’s my completely unauthorized, and untested, possible solution This is what “I” would try: I would go with your idea of a selective fire, ie: build your coals up at one end of the box, and then build some kind of barrier INSIDE the box….maybe fire-brick, or foil wrapped pans (to reflect the heat). THEN heat a big pot of water to a simmer, foil the top (to minimize steam escaping), and place it in the OTHER side of the box. This should minimize heat loss.

La Caja China #3

La Caja China Model #3

Now you’ve created a (somewhat less efficient) Model #3 “Cajita”. See instructions for roasting a shoulder in a Model #3, here.

Basically, you start with 5lbs of charcoal and add 4lbs every hour until you reach your desire temp. I would add 25% to each of those numbers to make up for our fix, and do everything you can to minimize heat loss. I have some tips in my free e-book, La Caja China Guidebook that should help. If you haven’t been to our BBQ page (at that link), we have TONS of La Caja China stuff there.

Again, this isn’t something that your model #2 is designed to do, so it comes with all of the standard “McGyvver” warnings and disclaimers, lol.

That said, if you DO try it, and it DOES work…please take lots of pictures so I can add them to this post! :)

Let us know how it goes!

-Chef Perry
Burnin’ Love BBQ

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Common Grilling Problems

Grilling tips

Our friend Joanne asks:

“I have trouble cooking anything on the grill. I either burn it or it’s not done enough. I’m guessing a thermometer would help me too. Can you recommend a good one?”

Joann – They’re all pretty much the same, the important thing is to keep them calibrated. Anything from Cash & Carry, BB&B, or any “kitchen store” should be fine.  Here’s the one I use… (FYI – everything in our Amazon store is an item that one of us (Terry, Chris, and I) have tested or use regularly).

With grilling it’s usually one, or a combination, of four problems…

1. Too high of heat for the food. A lot of time we crank it up and either the outside burns before the inside cooks, or the inside is raw when the outside looks perfect.

Always keep an “indirect heat” area on your grill, with one burner on med-low (or with just a few coals) and if the internal temp of the meat isn’t high enough and you’re concerned about burning, move the food to that area and tent loosely in foil until the temp comes up to your desired doneness.

2. Not enough “babying”. Unlike food cooked on the stove-top, which often needs to be “left alone”, food on grills are at the mercy of flare-ups and temp spikes. You have to be constantly monitoring your food. Is there too much flame under the food? (move it or use a spray bottle of hot water). Is one area of the grill cooking faster? (rotate the food between all areas of the grill). This is referred to in grilling lingo as “multi-zone cooking“.

3. Was the food prepped correctly? Food that is still chilled in the center (especially with bones) is going to cook unevenly, and this is especially true on the grill.

Some folks don’t like to hear this in our sterilized, bacteria-phobic society, but most meats need to be removed from the refrigerator and allowed to rest at room temp at least 30 minutes (and up to an hour, depending on thickness) if you want them to grill evenly. A chilled chicken leg is basically a hunk of meat wrapped around a ice-cold spike.

The outside layers WILL burn before the bone warms enough to allowed the meat touching it to even start cooking.

4. Saucing too soon. Most sauces are heavy in sugar, either natural or added. Sugar burns at high temps.

Food should basically be cooked through, the grill temp lowered, the food sauced (I like the dunking method over the brushing method) and then the food returned to the grill, turning often and redunking as needed, until the sauce had glazed. This is another good place to alternate between multiple zones.

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Our La Caja China Pinterest Board

La Caja China Pinterest

Hey everyone, just wanted to let you know that we created a La Caja China board on Pinterest this weekend.

Great place to find a bunch of my recipes, tips, and tricks in one place!

-Chef Perry
La Caja China Cooking  
La Caja China World
La Caja China Smoke (coming soon!)


Filed under Media

Rotisserie Grilling Tips

Rotisserie Grilling Tips
“Spit-roasting is one of the world’s most ancient and universal forms of grilling, and there’s nothing like it for producing exceptionally moist meat with a crackling crisp crust.” – Steven Raichlen

I like chicken just about any way it can be prepared, but for the juiciest, most flavorful bird, I’ll hang my hat on rotisserie grilling, even more so now with the grill accessories that are available. This even-heating, self-basting method ensures a perfectly cooked bird, with crispy skin all around. Using a grill (with a rotisserie burner) is especially convenient when cooking for parties or holiday get-togethers, as it frees up the oven and stove-top, and you don’t even have to remember to flip or baste your entrée!

Start with a good dry rub, end with proper treatment of the finished fowl, and you’ll have a winner chicken dinner that folks are going to remember!

Plus, rotisserie cooking is thought to be the oldest cooking technique known to man… so that’s pretty cool, too.

Here are 5 things to remember when grilling a chicken rotisserie style:

Dry rub 8-24 hours in advance

Rotisserie Grilled ChickenA dry rub is a combination of salt, spices, herbs, and sometimes sugars, that’s used to flavor meat in advance of cooking. Unlike a marinade or brine, a dry rub forms a crust on the outside of the meat when cooked.

The salt draws out the juices in the meat, making it more moist and tender, while the sugars caramelize and form a seal that traps in flavor and juices.

You can add just about anything you want to a rub (and you should experiment with some of your own favorite flavors) but here’s my go-to dry rub for chicken: 2 Tbsp. sea salt + 1 Tbsp. each: dark brown sugar, coarse black pepper, granulated garlic, smoked paprika, onion powder, and Italian seasonings. Combine all in an airtight container and mix until completely blended.

Once you’ve sprinkled, then rubbed the spices into (and under) the skin, and trussed it, wrap the whole bird in plastic wrap and refrigerate until 1-2 hours before you plan to start cooking it. Be sure to sprinkle some of your seasonings into the body cavity of the chicken or turkey, as well.

Truss the bird

3Trussing (tying up) a whole bird before cooking is always a good idea as it helps keep it moist and promotes even cooking (and a prettier presentation), but for rotisserie grilling it’s absolutely essential. A non-trussed bird will loosen up on the bar, legs and wings floppin’ ever which-a-way, and start burning at the extremities long before the rest of the chicken is cooked through to the bone.

Trussing isn’t particularly difficult, but it does take some practice to perfect. Google “How to truss a chicken” for any number of excellent videos and step-by-step guides to trussing.

Watch the heat

4I like to preheat my grill (burners on full, lid down) before putting the pre-loaded spit (the rod that holds the meat) in place. Watch the bird closely, checking every few minutes at first, and adjust your flame as needed to avoid hot spots or burning the skin.
Cook to the right temp

Figure about 25 minutes per pound to cook a chicken on a rotisserie, but what you’re really looking for in an internal temp in the thickest part of the thigh of 175 °F. A lot of variables can affect the number of minutes it takes a bird to cook to the bone, including starting temp of the meat, the heat of your grill, and the weather while cooking, but 175 °F is done regardless of outside influences.

Give it a rest

Once your chicken is removed from the heat, it’s vital that it be allowed to “rest” for 15-20 minutes, tented loosely in foil.

Resting allows the meat to relax and reabsorb its own juices back into the muscle fibers as they cool. The reason for tenting in foil is to keep the surface temperature from dropping much faster than the internal temp, which can lead to drying.

Once the chicken has rested go ahead and snip away the trussing (I use a pair of kitchen shears for this), cut the bird up as you see fit, and serve.

Oh, and be sure to save those lovely roasted bones and extra bits for making stock or flavoring soups or gravies. It’s gold!


Chef Perry


Filed under On The Grill Recipes, Technique

Man cannot live on pork alone…

Pork Alone

1 Comment

by | August 25, 2013 · 10:22 AM

Q&A: Ingredient substitutions for Pierna Criolla


Maggi asks:

Hi Perry:   We just became proud owners of a #2 La caja china cooking box. But after ordering sour orange Juice and the other Mojo can of Guava shells on line the cost is really “ costly “.

Do you have any ideas or substitutions for Pierna Criolla pork shoulders?

We watched the Throwdown with Bobby Flay and Roberto Guerra. What fun!



P.S.  (Sure hope you can help us out)



Heyya neighbor!

YES! I’ve found everything I need to make Pierna  criolla at my local Mexican grocery. There’s one  in Wilsonville in the strip mall behind the Arbys. There are a couple in Tualatin, as well, but I haven’t checked them out yet.

Here’s a top secret trick…if you can’t find guava shells, buy some halved peaches (in water) drain well, pat as dry as possible, then soak overnight in Guava Nectar (available at most grocery stores with the juices or sodas.)

Also, you can make a really good “sour orange” by mixing 3 parts fresh squeezed orange juice with 1 part lemon juice. You can see the recipes for making the mojo this way, in this post.

Be sure to download a copy of my La Caja China Guidebook (it’s free!)

Lemme know if you have any other questions!

-Chef Perry

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Some common grilling mistakes…you might be making!

We have a great guest post today from our friend’s at JES Restaurant Equipment! Check out the infographic, below, on some very common mistakes that grillers make, and the corresponding tips to help make your live-fire cooking the best it can be!


Now that the weather’s warmed up, millions of people are firing up the grill and cooking up delicious meals. But how many of you are making these common grilling mistakes?

  • Pressing your burgers flat with the spatula (smooshes the juices right out)
  • Cooking too fast (or too slow – don’t forget the sear!)
  • Burning your sauce (put sugary sauces on when you’re almost done cooking)
  • Cutting into meats without letting them rest (resting the meat for about 5 minutes seals in the juices – thicker cuts need even longer)

We focused on tips for a gas grill (like the popular Holland Grills), but these tips will work equally well on charcoal grills.

Easy tips for grilling like a pro! (Infographic)! (Infographic)


Source by JES Restaurant Equipment


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BBQ Humor

BBQ Humor

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by | May 9, 2013 · 6:47 AM

Not Forgotten

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