I love discovering different ways to cook items especially barbecue and the La Caja China is new take on an older cooking technique. When we talk barbecue here in the Southeastern USA we are talking about cooking pork. So I saw this strange cooker on TV a couple of years ago. It looks like a Chinese tea box on wheels and the guys operating the thing used it to cook a whole pig in four hours. The meat looked incredibly moist and the skin was very crispy. But four hours? It usually takes the biggest part of a day to cook a whole hog over a barbecue pit.
La Caja China
The cooker itself is called La Caja China and was invented by a man that came from Cuba. As a boy he remembers seeing this type of cooker being used by the Chinese railroad workers. As a man he built a similar model and a company was born. The company is still run by his son and they make some incredible cookers.
The construction of the La Caja China is a box lined in seamless aluminum with an aluminum lid that closes the box. The La Caja China has wheels on one side and handles on the other making it easy to move like a wheel barrow.
The pig (you can cook more than just whole hog on this also) is sandwiched between two grill grates that hold the pig in and allow for fairly easy turning when the time is right. The interesting thing about the design is the fire is built on the outside of the cooker right on the lid. Charcoal is piled on the lid after the cooker is loaded and the fire is built on top of the cooker on the aluminum lid. You can also do some barbecue grilling just like you would a regular charcoal grill. If you are doing some meat item that takes more than an hour you will have to refresh the fire on the hour to keep the heat up. That means a new bag of charcoal every hour you are cooking.
You can cook pork shoulders, whole chickens, ribs, briskets just about anything you can do on a regular BBQ pit you can cook in La Caja China. The company has a couple of models that range from around 300 US dollars for the basic unit to 1250 for a professional model made out of stainless.
The company is coming out with accessories so you can do rotisserie or other types of cooking on top, smoking and items to handle as well as protect the grill with a cover. I have never cooked on one of these but would jump at the chance to try one out. The pig I saw come out of this cooker was in record time and looked absolutely delicious.