Our Facebook Friend Mary asks:
Hi Chef Perry! We’re planning on cooking 3 turkeys in our La Caja China box for Thanksgiving…. 12-14 lbs each. Can anyone tell me approximately how long it will take? Thanks in advance….and planning on brining them if that makes a difference? – Mary B.
Mary, thanks for asking!
Every year, we roast 8-10 whole turkeys in our Semi Pro for the Thanksgiving dinner at our local homeless shelter, The Father’s Heart, in Oregon City.
Here are 5 tips we’ve learned over the years, for roasting the perfect turkey(s) in La Caja China roasting boxes.
Burnin’ Love BBQ
5 Tips for Perfect La Caja China Turkeys
Make sure your turkey(s) are COMPLETELY thawed by the night before. The bone temp of the turkeys will make or break the La Caja China process. The USDA recommends cold water thawing.
Allow about 30 minutes per pound, and be sure the turkey is in a leak-proof plastic bag to prevent cross-contamination and to prevent the turkey from absorbing water, resulting in a watery product.
Submerge the wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed.
Always, always, always brine your turkeys (or chickens) before roasting! The differences in the flavor, the tenderness, and the juiciness of the meat are indescribable.
To brine one turkey, bring 1 quart of water to a simmer, add salt and sugar, stir to dissolve completely. Add 3 quarts of very cold water to cool. (See our recipes, the the link below, for some great tips on other delicious ingredients you can add to your brine!)
Place turkeys in a water-tight container, large enough to allow a little space around each, and pour the cooled brine over the turkeys, add more cold water to cover (if needed). Move turkeys to a cold area, or refrigerate 8-10 hours.Discard brine and rinse turkeys thoroughly, before prepping for roasting.
Just Also, be sure to cover (just) the top of each turkey loosely with a small piece of foil. The thin skin burns easily in the direct heat of the caja. You need a separate piece for each turkey, so you don’t block the heat getting down and under the birds (been there, done that! LOL)
4. NO PEEKING
I know I’m a bit of a broken record on this subject, but it really is important. Lifting the lid from the box effectively removes all the cooking heat, and it takes a LONG time to build back up, as your turkey is cooling at the same time. Use a remote probe thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, and (personal opinion) a metal dust pan and scoop to remove the ashes, instead of removing the lid. NEVER lift the lid until your turkey has reached “resting temp”…which is 10-15F below your target finished temperature.
5. COLD WEATHER COOKING
Let’s face it, holiday cooking, for many of us, means if we want to BBQ or grill…we’re cooking in the cold! Make sure you start out with every ounce of the recommended coal weight, to ensure that the box reaches its “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.
For more tips, tricks, and insider secrets on cooking anything in (and on) La Caja China, be sure to download our free La Caja China eGuidebook!
If you’d like to see a full holiday menu, including this delicious La Caja China turkey recipe, please vist our post: La Caja China Christmas Menu with Recipes
Oh, and if you’re hankerin’ for smoked turkeys this year, watch our short video: Smoked BBQ in La Caja China with the A-Maze-N Smoker