Got a couple of great questions today from JW, over at Chowhound. He asks…
Hey Chef Perry. Great Video! I am cooking a pig next week. In your opinion, what do prefer best. The Cuban way with the mojo, or something else.
Also, when I do our block parties pig, the parts that stick up the most get extra crispy/burnt.
Any way of making it more even?
Thank you! – JW
While the Cuban version is delicious, as a Georgia transplant, I personally prefer a Southern “Pickin’ Pig” with just salt, pepper, smoke, and an occasional spritz of apple-juice and cider vinegar. I use a couple of less pounds of coals per round, and roast for around 8 hours, looking for an internal ham temp of 190-195, before flipping.
RE: burnt spots – two things I do…
First, for a long cook like this, I take a very quick peek (just lifting a corner and checking with a flashlight) every couple of hours. If I see one end getting darker faster, I’ll pivot the coal rack 180d to re-position the hot spot.
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Second, if it’s getting two dark for my liking, I’ll patch those areas with foil (just enough to cover the problem). Typically between the 5 and 8 hour mark.
A final trick – adding fresh coals will really jack up the heat if you’ve just dumped ashes. I usually put on fresh coals from my chimneys, spread, and wait about 1/2 hour before scraping the insulating layer of coals beneath. This tends to moderate the heat spikes that causes burn spots.
I enjoy a good piece of grass-fed, dry-aged beef as much as the next food snob, but if given my ‘druthers, I’d take a properly cooked peice of lamb-leg, or lamb chop over cow, any day of the week.
Here’s a favorite recipe of mine, for grilling on top of La Caja China. Makes a great snack while the pig’s roasting!
8 rib lamb chops, 1 1/2 inches thick 1/4 C fresh lime juice 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon brown sugar 1 teaspoon black pepper 3/4 teaspoon salt
In a small bowl, stir together the chili powder, cumin, sugar, salt, and black pepper. Brush both sides of chops with lime juice, and sprinkle the spice mixture over the chops, rub it evenly all over the meat, and chill the chops overnight.
Prepare La Cajita China, or grill, with glowing coals. For a “high-heat” sear, I like to use my Weber charcoal chimney set directly on the Cajita ash pan. Fill the chimney 3/4, light, and allow to burn down to half full.
On the oiled rack of the grill or on a broiler pan in the broiler, grill or broil the chops 4 inches from the heat for 5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium rare, rotating halfway through for grill marks.
When I pull the chops off the grill, I let them rest for 10 minutes, then serve with rosemary roasted potatoes and sweet green peas.
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Coming up on one of my favorite barbecue holidays…Presidents Day!
Oh sure, you can have your Memorial Day, and Independence Day, and Labor Day, but the problem with those are, everyone else is barbecuing as well! It can be hard to get enough folks over to justify a decent pig-pickin’ when every Weber on the block is burnin’ dogs.
Besides, Presidents Day has such a fine history or barbecue…
“When George Washington “went in to Alexandria to a Barbecue and stayed all Night,” as he wrote in his diary for May 27, 1769, he won eight shillings playing cards and probably ate meat from a whole hog, cooked for hours over hardwood coals, then chopped or “pulled.”
By the early nineteenth century at the latest, a sauce of vinegar and cayenne pepper (originally West Indian) was being sprinkled on the finished product. This ur-barbecue can be found to this day in eastern North Carolina and the adjoining regions of South Carolina and Virginia, virtually unchanged.” (Adapted from Holy Smoke: The Tar Heel Barbecue Tradition, by John Shelton Reed, Dale Volberg Reed, and Will McKinney to be published by the University of North Carolina Press, forthcoming 2008.)
Says Steven Raichlen, author of “Planet Barbecue” and host of “Primal Grill” on PBS, “Our presidents were known to be big fans of the laid-back pastime as well. George Washington’s diaries abound with references to barbecues, including one that lasted for three days. George Washington was a major barbecue buff, and when Abraham Lincoln’s parents were married, their wedding feast was a barbecue.”
Lyndon Johnson built his campaign around Texas-style barbecues, a variation on an old tradition: In the 19th century, roast pig and whiskey were staples at political rallies. Having combined generous amounts of Kentucky bourbon and slow-roasted pork on occassion myself, I can say with some authority that this is a wise political tactic…after several hours you would passionately cast your vote for the pig, if someone put a ballot in your hand!
In fact, President Johnson had a full-time barbecue chef, Mr, Walter Jetton, employed on the LBJ Ranch full time. I have his cookbook…it’s highly amusing.
Ronald Reagan engaged the BBQ catering services of Wayne Monk of Lexington for the 1983 Economic Summit in Williamsburg.
Even President Obama, who, having grown up in Hawaii, is likely to have an undeniable love of pork…I mean bbq of course…got into the action with Iron Chef Bobby Flay, grilling up some fine looking steaks at the White House for the Young Men’s Barbeque in 2009. (Hope they were good…we payed for ’em! lol)
So, in tribute to my favorite bbq holiday, here’s how you can prepare some fantastic, White House worthy pulled pork barbecue of your own on your gas grill or La Caja China (click links for recipes.)
And, of course, if you can get a herd of hungry revelers over, you can go whole hog…but I’d put the bourbon away first, if I were you.
And here’s my favorite “traditional” bbq sauce recipe, from …which is probably pretty similar to what Ol’ George sunk his wooden teeth into, at those all-night poker parties!
Perk’s Tradition BBQ Sauce
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Combine the white vinegar, cider vinegar, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper in a jar or bottle with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 days before using so that the flavors will blend. Shake occasionally.
May all your holidays be filled with the blessings that life can bestow. And though, for all of us, in different ways, this has been a tough year, try to remember something my father taught me. Something I reflect upon that occasionally has helped me through a tough time…
At your moment of greatest suffering, when everything seems it’s darkest, somewhere in the world, some unsuspecting turkey is about to have a fistful of stuffing shoved deep into his eviserated body cavity…
In other words, things could be worse. Happy Thanksgiving!” – Bon Saget
Here’s the Burnin’ Love BBQ Plan…
Appetizer 1: Mojo Shrimp Skewers
Grilled seafood makes a great appetizer before a big dinner because not only it it a light, tasty snack that won’t dull the tastebuds, it’s also quick and easy grilling for a chef who’s in full-bore production mode.
Sometimes you just need meat in tube form. Here’s a recipe I came up with (and I’m pretty proud of) that incorporates some of my favorite island flavors with a classic tube-steak. The spiral slicing really takes this recipe to the next level!
Some chopped fresh pineapple and red pepper flake would be an awesome sweet/hot topping for this. Next time!
Big Island Dogs
4 Johnsonville stadium bratwurst
1/2 cup Yoshida’s Original Sauce
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
4 hoagie rolls
1 cup Asian slaw*
Spiral cut bratwurst (see below) and marinate in Yoshida’s sauce for 2-3 hours, turning ocassionally.
Grill brats over medium heat, re-dunking in sauce with each turn, until heated through and crispy.
Toast white sesame seeds in a dry pan over medium heat until golden and aromatic.
Toast hoagies over coals until golden brown. If you like soft rolls, wrap the hoagies in foil and grill a few minutes, flip and repeat until warmed through.
Add 1/4 cup of slaw to each roll, top with a brat, brush with additional sauce, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
This is a recipe will be included in our Lighter Side menu over at hautemealz.com, soon, and I thought it would be a good one to share here, as well.
Did you know that new research indicates that eating red meat every other day (instead of daily) can significantly reduce your heart disease risk, too…that sounds pretty good, huh? So, unless you’re eating it every single day (which is doubtful), you can stop stressing about an occasional red meat meal–especially when it’s a lean cut, like the one below.
Flank Steak Salad with Fresh Pepper Pico
4-6 slices freshly grilled flank steak*
1 cup mixes greens
1 Tbs balsamic vinaigrette
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 small avocado
1/4 cup Fresh Pepper Pico*
Sweet chili sauce might be my all-time favorite condiment, and brisket is definitely in my top 3 favorite meats. So, a thought stuck me the other day, out of the blue, Hey, those two would be awesome together! And thus, this recipe was born.
“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?