End of Summer: Part 2
10 Tips for La Caja China Cooking in the Fall
~Chef Perry Perkins~
In our last post, we discussed the first three of my tips for roasting and grilling with La Caja China, as the weather cools.
Now, let’s take a look at the re
If you’re not blessed with a covered deck, buying an inexpensive pop-up cover is a good precaution against unexpected weather changes.
Be sure to anchor the legs (I tie them to cinder blocks) so they don’t go Maty Poppins on you if the wind comes up.
Also, remember to extend them to the full length of the legs (there’s a LOT of heat coming of the top of that box!)
- The Windscreen
If you live in a area that get’s significantly cooler in the fall, this accessory is absolutely a must. Heat loss from cool winds (known as “convection”) can absolutely kill a good grilling session.
At full load, a roasting box can produce up to 700F at the level of the grill grates. Even a light but steady breeze can reduce this by as much as HALF!
350F is great for baking cookies, but for searing T-bones…? Not so much.
The wind-screen block the process of convection from below the coals to right up to the grilling surface, and
directs your heat straight up into your food.
When grilling, I almost always use mine. Even in the summer.
I also keep a few sheets of plywood in my garage to set up as wind-screens (at a safe distance!) on the windy side of the box. Heat loss by convection also occurs when wind travels around, and especially under, your La Caja China.
And, of course, I have to add (as always)…NO PEEKING! You’re working hard to maintain the heat in the box, and each time the lid is lifted, that heat drops significant, especially in cooler or cold weather. Only open the box to flip the pig, or if you think you smell something burning!
- Box Temp
Knowing the exact heat inside the box is just good cooking, but it’s even more important in cool weather. Get a second
probe thermometer (the first one is for the meat) and insert it into a half a potato or apple. Place this on the upper pig rack and monitor to ensure that you are maintaining adequate and even heat throughout the roasting/smoking process.
It takes more fuel (aka: briquettes) to maintain your roasting and grilling temps. After all these years of cooking in and on roasting boxes, I’ve come up with a general rule of thumb.
Assuming that the normal calculations for charcoal are based on an ambient temperature of 70F, for an 80-pound pig, and using that as a base (your “control”) add ½ lb of charcoal to
each reload* for every 10 degrees (F), below that.
Example ~ 6 lbs for “70lb” box, and 7lbs the 100ln models:
*Do NOT add additional charcoal to your start load. The additional heat, coupled with the cold surface of the pig, WILL result in burning.
Also, add 10 minutes to the total cooking time for every 1 pound, over 80, that your pig weighs.
So, there are the rest of my 10 Tips for Fall! Don’t banish your La Caja China to a corner of the
garage at the end of summer…winter is cold and dark enough already...
...make this one a little warmer with the Magic Box!
Speed-o’s are optional...
As a third-generation chef, Perry P. Perkins focuses his love of cooking on barbeque, traditional southern fare, and fresh Northwest cuisine.
Perry runs the non-profit organization, MY KITCHEN Outreach Program, which teaches nutrition, shopping, and hands on cooking classes for at risk youth.
His cookbooks include La Caja China Cooking, La Caja China World, La Caja China Party, and the NEW “La Caja China Grill.”
You can follow the rest of Chef Perry’s cooking adventures at ChefPerryPerkins.com