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.
In light of this momentous occasion, I’m going to offer each of my La Caja China Cookbooks, directly from my e-store, at 20% off the cover price! (Be sure to use the links and coupon code, below). These are the ONLY cookbooks on the market for the Cuban roasting boxes, and feature dozens of delicious recipes that I’ve personally created and tested, from across the country and around the world.
Nothing roasts a pig faster, or easier, than La Caja China…but there’s a LOT more to explore that just the whole hog. Here’s a little about the cookbooks and a favorite recipe of mine, from each…
Oh, and join me on Twitter tonight to chat during the episode, just search for #BizarreCaja, and join the conversation!
The secret to perfect roasting
Authored by Perry P Perkins 20% Coupon Code: MUFRQDBX
Recipes and tips for using La Caja China to prepare fabulous dishes from around the world!
La Caja China, for all the pig-related press, is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment I’ve used in a lifetime of cooking and barbecue.
I can prepare everything from holiday dinners like St. Patrick’s Day corned beef and Thanksgiving turkey; ethnic delights like Malaysian Satays and Italian porchetta sandwiches, to Kalua pig and Moroccan lamb. I can grill steaks, braise chickens, and roast prime-rib that rivals any restaurant, and do it all in my own backyard!
And, of course, I can roast melt-in-your-mouth whole pigs that send my guests into fits of gastronomical joy.
Even more importantly, I can prepare these dishes for crowds that would normally require a smoke house, a four-foot deep pit dug in my yard, multiple gas grills, and several full-size ovens. Not only that, but I can do it anywhere, anytime!
La Caja China isn’t just about great barbecue and roasting, it’s about friends and family, it’s about creating memories, and… let’s be honest… it’s about being “that guy” (or gal) who can make the dinner, holiday, or party, a memorable event.
Roasting Box Recipes from Around the Globe
Authored by Perry P Perkins 20% Coupon Code: MUFRQDBX
La Caja China, the Cuban roasting box, has become the toast of food writers and celebrity gourmets, including Food Network’s THROWDOWN Chef, Bobby Flay.
In La Caja China Cooking: The Secret to Perfect Roasting, we took a gastronomic tour of America.
With this new collection of recipes, your La Caja China becomes a magic carpet, allowing you to take your friends and family to the far corners of the world, and experience the delicious wonders waiting for you there!
In every culture and country that we researched in gathering this collection, we found people who enjoyed gathering together with loved ones, lighting a fire, cooking meat over it (or under it), and eating together.
Not coincidentally, we think, these folks shared a common passion for life and laughter, as well.
In La Caja China World, we invite your taste buds to join us on a globe-trotting adventure with dishes like:
Grilled Tri-Tip & Chimichurri in Argentina
Whole Roast Pig & Coconut Rice in Bali
Roast lamb & Potatoes in Greece
Beef Short Ribs & Scallion Salad in Korea
Christmas Goose in Sweden
If you’re looking to roast, grill, bake, braise, smoke, or barbecue; whether you’re cooking for a hungry crowd, or creating memories with your family – look no further than La Caja China World!
About the author:
Chef, cookbook author and food blogger, Perry P. Perkins comes from a long line of professional chefs. As a third generation gourmand, he focuses his love of cooking on barbeque, traditional southern fare, and fresh Northwest cuisine.
Perry has written for hundreds of magazines, everything from Writer’s Digest and Guideposts, to American Hunter and Bassmaster Magazine. His inspirational stories have been included in twelve Chicken Soup anthologies, as well.
Yesterday, I had the honor of sharing this amazing device with none other than my grilling guru, Mr. Steven Raichlen, (author of “The Barbecue Bible”, which is my gold standard for bbq/grilling cookbooks) who had posted the following message on his Facebook page:
“Yes, I’ve used caja chinas & they give you amazingly moist tender pork. Drawback is you don’t get a wood smoker flavor.”
Well, you know I couldn’t let that go…so I (very politely) replied that you could, indeed, get great smoke flavor in anything you roast in La Caja China, and pointed him to our review of the AMNPS. This morning, the awesome Mr. Raichlen posted the following…
“This in from Perry P: a smoker device you can use with a caja china. I stand corrected & and we all stand to eat like kings!”
Well, needless to say…my hat doesn’t fit too well this morning!
In honor of my 5 seconds of fame, the equally awesome Todd Johnson, over at A-MAZE-N Products, LLC (owner and creator of the AMNPS) has generously offered to donate a brand new A-MAZE-N Pellet Smoker, as a prize for the best barbecue photo posted on our Facebook page.
1 photo per person. (G-rated, must be your photo, preferably with no minors in the shot.)
We’re looking for finished foodie shots of meat on the grill, in the Caja China, in your Weber, your pit…you name it. Show us what you would add smoke to, with your free A-MAZE-N Pellet Smoker, the next time you barbecue!
Contest ends Wednesday, February 29 (‘cause that’s leap-day, and I thought it was cool.)
Please do not post contact/mailing information, we’ll contact the winner.
Oh, and just to tease you…in June, I’m going to give away a MAJOR PRIZE here on Burnin’ Love BBQ (no, not a leg-lamp) for the best photo taken using the AMNPS! Seriously…this is going to be a biggie!
Out Burnin’ Love BBQ friend Josh is considering adding a La Caja China to his cooking arsenal, and posed some excellent questions. I’m re-posting them, along with my answers, for anyone else who’s thinking of picking up a magic box.
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.
Perry: Hey Josh, 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
Josh: 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.
Perry: Yes, I’ve used the smoke pistol, as well as the pan method, and a couple of others. You can see my full review on my favorite smokin’ hardware in this post: A-Maze-N Pellet Smoker Review.
Josh: 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.
Josh: 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.
Perry: 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, 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. Save any juices, and mix them back into the shredded meat with a touch of cider vinegar. Shoulders come out perfect. Search this site for “shoulders”, there are a bunch here, and more in the cookbooks.
Josh: 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.
Perry: I have the Semi-Pro, two of the model #2 units, and a model #3. My first box was a model #2. It’s seven years old, and we’ve done dozens of pigs, 25-30 shoulders, a couple of dozen turkeys, 20-25 briskets, a couple of lambs, and a whole 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, the La Caja China Guidebook, here.
Perry, I have a HUGE pig roast coming up. Well the pig is going to be average size, but we are tailgating on the river and I ‘ve invited my biggest customer and his family to join me. I have done a lot of pigs in the LCC and I am good with that part.
Do you have or does any of the cook books have some hits or ideas on the process after the pig is done? In the past it was always family and friends so we just cut it up the best we could and ate it. I need to do this more like a catering event with side and things. Thanks…
Okay, so I did some looking around, and couldn’t really find any illustrated carving instructions that I really liked…so I made my own!
These directions would work nicely with any of the “Pig Roasting Party Themes” included in my free eBook, the La Caja China Guidebook. And, of course, there are tons of side dish recipes in La Caja China Cooking, and La Caja China World.
A Buffalo wing, hot wing or wing is a chicken wing section (drumette or flat) that is traditionally fried unbreaded and then coated in sauce.
Classic Buffalo-style chicken wing sauce is composed of a vinegar-based cayenne pepper hot sauce and butter. Buffalo wings are traditionally served with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing or ranch dressing.
Buffalo wings were first prepared at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York by Teressa Belissimo, who owned the bar along with her husband Frank Lenz. Upon the unannounced, late-night arrival of their son, Dominic, with several of his friends from college, Teressa needed a fast and easy snack to present to her hungry guests. It was then that she came up with the idea of deep frying chicken wings (normally thrown away or reserved for stock) and tossing them in cayenne hot sauce.
The first Chicken Wing Day took place in Buffalo, NY on July 29, 1977
In honor of the eventful occasion, here’s my all-time favorite “wing-related” clip (Thank you Adam Richman for your sacrifice, lol), my own personal wing recipe for grilled wings from our cookbook, MEAT FIRE GOOD, and an extremely helpful video I found on how to cut and trim chicken wings for grilling.
This is pretty close to the original spicy Buffalo chicken wings recipe from the Anchor Bar, in Buffalo NY, where they first appeared in October, 1964. The recipe has been modified slightly for the grill.
36 chicken wings, separated
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1 C all-purpose flour
1 ½ Tbs white vinegar
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
¼ tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp seasoned salt
6 Tbs Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
6 Tbs unsalted butter
blue cheese dressing
Mix all except chicken, salt, oil and flour in a pan, bring to a simmer, stirring, and then cool.
Toss the wings with the oil, and salt. Place into a large plastic bag, add the flour, and shake to coat evenly. Remove from the bag, shaking off excess flour.
Place wings on hot grill, turning several times until golden brown.
Remove wings from grill and place them in a sealed bowl with the sauce and shake well.
Serve immediately with blue cheese and chilled celery sticks.
I own a lot of cookbooks…a LOT of cookbooks, and the list is growing at a rapid rate. However, if I were told I had 5 minutes to get out of my house and leave everything behind but an armload of my favorite cookbooks…there are five or six that would immediately pop to mind.
Besides my own cookbooks, or course (wink wink), these would top the list!
A fascinating look at live-fire cooking around the world. Lots more than just a cookbook!
A 900,000-copy bestseller and winner of the IACP/Julia Child Cookbook Award, The Barbecue! Bible includes full-color photographs illustrating food preparation, grilling techniques, ingredients, and of course those irresistible finished dishes. A new section has been added with answers to the most frequently asked grilling questions, plus Steven’s proven tips, quick solutions to common mistakes, and more.
And then there’s the literal meat of the book: more than 500 of the very best barbecue recipes, inventive, delicious, unexpected, easy-to-make, and guaranteed to capture great grill flavors from around the world.
Lots of strong opinions, family histories, and great bbq recipes!
North Carolina is home to the longest continuous barbecue tradition on the North American mainland. Authoritative, spirited, and opinionated (in the best way), Holy Smoke is a passionate exploration of the lore, recipes, traditions, and people who have helped shape North Carolina’s signature slow-food dish.
Three barbecue devotees, John Shelton Reed, Dale Volberg Reed, and William McKinney, trace the origins of North Carolina ‘cue and the emergence of the heated rivalry between Eastern and Piedmont styles. They provide detailed instructions for cooking barbecue at home, along with recipes for the traditional array of side dishes that should accompany it. The final section of the book presents some of the people who cook barbecue for a living, recording firsthand what experts say about the past and future of North Carolina barbecue.
Filled with historic and contemporary photographs showing centuries of North Carolina’s “barbeculture,” as the authors call it, Holy Smoke is one of a kind, offering a comprehensive exploration of the Tar Heel barbecue tradition.
Picked this one up on a whim, in Oahu…and fell in love with it. My daughter’s birthday luau each year is a big hit, largely due to the great recipes and info in this cookbook!
Sam’s recipes reflect a melding of East and West, with distinctive Polynesian flourishes and some highly innovative twists that could have been conceived only in the creative and original mind of Chef Choy.
Here are over 80 recipes including both Sam’s innovations as well as his renditions of Island favorites. They range from simple preparations like poke, an addictively delicious raw seafood appetizer, to elaborate and beautiful dishes like Sautéed Island Fish Trio, sure to dazzle the table and palate at your next dinner party.
All the recipes use readily available ingredients. Where hard to find ingredients are involved, a guide to mail and Internet sources will give mainland readers access to poi, tropical fruits and even fresh fish.
I found this treasure several years ago at a school book sale in Portland. Not only are the recipes and back-stories great, but the photographs from the autor’s “tour de white-trash” will have you howling or cringing depending on just how much your family tree forks (or doesn’t!)
From Oleen’s Stuffed Pepper Slippers and Franceen’s Good Ol’ Meat to Mrs. Tooler Doolus’s Oven Spaghetti and Bobbie’s Lemon/Lime Jell-O Cake Supreme, Ernie Mickler has collected another whopping batch of the“most magnannygoshus” recipes of the Very Deepest South. Previously known as SINKIN SPELLS, HOT FLASHES, FITS AND CRAVINS, this collection has a new name and a new cover that calls to mind its best-selling brother, WHITE TRASH COOKING. Same good eatin’, though.
Oysters being my favorite food, this cookbook was recommended to me by “Dan the Oysterman” in Oysterville, Wa. If you think you’ve had oysters every possible way…you’re wrong…by several dozen recipes, lol. A great, and comprehensive cookbook.
The Joy of Oysters tells the story of oysters in North America from the first settlers to the latest harvests of these delectable morsels by dedicated oystermen and women on every shoreline. Discover the details of each oyster species, how they are grown and how the most famous oyster restaurants prepare them for their customers. Join in the fun with tales of oyster festivals from Florida to New England to the Pacific Coast.
The Joy of Oysters is the perfect gift for that friend who can’t get enough Bluepoints or Belons, Hog Island Kumamotos or Westcott Bay Petites. Whether you like your oysters live on the half shell, baked, fried, curried or served up plump in a traditional oyster stew, The Joy of Oysters will fill your need for all things oyster.
The Wise Guy Cookbook: My Favorite Recipes From My Life as a Goodfella to Cooking on the Run By Henry Hill
If you want an American’s guide to real Italian food…this is the book for you. Liking the movie, “Goodfellas” doesn’t hurt either!
Henry Hill was a born wiseguy, and his love of food got him through both the good and bad times. Even cooking on the run in the Federal Witness Protection Program-where prosciutto was impossible to find and gravy was something you put on mashed potatoes-he managed to keep good Italian food on the table. He still brings this flair for improvisation to his cooking. No recipe is set in stone. And substitutions are listed just in case.
Now, in his inimitable style, Hill tells some spicy stories of his life in the Mob and out, and shows readers how to whip up his favorite dishes, Sicilian-style-recipes to make even the toughest tough-guy beg for more…
Mom’s Antipasto € Sunday Gravy (Meat Sauce) € Cheaters Chicken Stock € Striped Bass for Paulie € Fat Larry’s Pizza Dough € Henry’s Kickback Antipasti Hero € Sicilian Easter Bread with Colored Eggs € Clams Casino € Osso Bucco € Oven Penitentiary Sauce with Sausage € Michael’s Favorite Ziti with Meat Sauce € and many others
“Consider it a cautionary tale, in the event summer weather ever returns: Portland’s Bureau of Development Services, the agency responsible for enforcing city codes and getting rid of nuisances, will impose monthly fines on food cart operators who leave tables and chairs on sidewalks outside their businesses after receiving written warnings. Although restaurants are permitted to have outdoor seating on city sidewalks, food carts are not, a BDS spokesman said Thursday.” (Read the entire article here)
I forget…is it “Keep Portland Weird” or “Keep Portland Stupid?” Portland’s Bureau of Development Services seems confused as well.
I’m sure glad that there’s nothing more important in the entire city of Portland for these bean-counting bureaucrats to focus their beady little eyes, and ticket pads, on than…of my God, the horror…FOOD CARTS!
It’s a good thing they don’t have any real work to do, unemployment would be even higher!
Food carts (yes, with tables and chairs) seem to work just fine in crowded cities all over the world, and in fact are a major tourist draw (note to Portland’s Bureau of Development Services…TOURISTS = MONEY, just FYI…)
Unfortunately without having SOMEONE to fine, most of these city-desk knobs would be out of a job, so I guess it’s in their best interest to make the vendors job harder, and the customers experience less convenient, to justify their paper-pushing. Congratulations on giving people one less reason to go downtown.
Perry P. Perkins
Author & Food Blogger
So, yeah…I think that pretty much sums it up.
Feel free to visit Oregonlive.com and leave your own thoughts. You can contact Portland’s Bureau of Development Services here: firstname.lastname@example.org and here: 503-823-7700…at least I think you can. The page’s informtion was last updated in 2006, but, you know…they’ve been busy dealing with bistro-table related emergencies and all…
Hey, when you go…piss off a bureaucrat…bring your own chair!
PS – There’s a great new book out on the Portland food cart scene, “Cartopia: Portland’s Food Cart Revolution” by Kelly Rodgers & Kelley Roy – which tells, through stories and photography, how the perfect storm of Portland’s independent culture, artisan economy, and “foodie” scene created the food cart revolution.
“Portland has over 500 food carts, some clustered into “pods” in parking lots and others staking their solitary claim on the sidewalk. Artisanal, quirky, independent, and an exceptional value, these food carts are the perfect symbol of what Portland is all about.
As authors Kelly Rodgers and Kelley Roy explore the factors that have placed Portland in the street-food spotlight, they also document the personality and character of the Portland carts, and by extension, Portland itself.” (from Amazon.com)
Now, ya’all know I love my La Caja Chinas, all three of them, but let’s face it, there is one issue with the Model #1 and Model #2 pig roasters (resolved in the Semi Pro) that can be frustrating…the drippings pan.
For a foodie like me, that broth that gathers in the drip pan under the pig is liquid gold. I dream about how that rich, amazing broth flavors my rice dishes, bean pots, soups, and anything else I can think to pour it into.
But – it’s kinda a pain to get that pan out of the box without spilling it everywhere!
Then, not only am I losing my lovely hog juice, but I’m creating a big greasy mess in the bottom of the box…and who’s gotta clean that up? Me!
So…we were roasting our last piggie in my model #2 at a friends house, and I was whining about getting those invaluable out of the roaster, without making a huge mess, as I’m incapable if lifting the pan out of the box and getting the broth into a container, without spilling it everywhere.
My friend had a Siphon-Mate Transfer Pump new in the package, on his shelf, and offered to let me use it, so I thought…why not give it a try?
First, of course, we took it into the kitchen and pumped hot, soapy water (first), bleach water (second), and clear hot water (third, and forth) through to make sure it was clean, as it wasn’t manufactured with food in mind, lol.
When the piggie was done, sure enough, the drip pan was full within a half-inch of the rim…a guaranteed grease tsunami waiting to happen. Instead, I let it cool for about 20 minutes, until the broth was just warm, but the fat was still liquid, and dropped the intake into the pan, and the output hose into my stock pot.
A half-dozen pumps later and the pan was nearly empty, and easy to lift out without a single drip! The rest of the box was a 2 minute clean-up job with a few paper towels and a little of La Caja China’s degreasing spray.
Clean up of the Siphon-Mate was as easy as repeating the intial cleaning steps.
Best of all, I have 3/4 of a gallon of liquid gold pig broth to flavor beans, pork gravy, and my infamous Pulled Pork Dirty Rice. Needless to say, I’ve ordered my own Siphon-Mate, and can’t wait for it’s arrival!