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End of Summer: Part 1

Posted by Chef Perry Perkins on

End of Summer: Part 1
6 Tips for La Caja China Cooking in the Fall

~Chef Perry Perkins~

Well, summer’s coming to end, and we all know what that means... means NOTHING!

For those of us who refuse to hibernate all winter, living off our own fat (nothing personal) and dreaming of smoky, roasty meat, the coming of fall changes nothing but the dress code…at least where I live!

There are, however, a few modifications to our caja cooking, when cooler weather get’s breezy, rainy, and even snowy. Here are my Top 10 Tips to keep your roasting box chugging away, and producing perfectly smoked and grilled meats, long after I hang up the Speed-o.

(Don’t picture me!)

  1. Cleaning

    I keep my roasting boxes pretty clean, giving them a good hot-water and soap scrub after every use. But, twice a year, typically spring and fall, I like to pull everything apart and do a real “deep clean.”

    Replace any necessary parts. I work my boxes like rented mules, lol, which means that they see a lot of wear. Plus, I like stuff that shiney! Every two or three years I replace the top grills, cover, and coal grate. (For budgeting reasons, I alternate, replace just one or two items each year, as needed.) Fall is a great time to add accessories and replacement parts to your Christmas list!

    Remove, wire brush, and soap-scrub all rails (let the dry completely, before re-assembling.

    Wire brush and soap-scrub the interior with very hot water.

    Chef’s Tip: A clean garden sprayer filled with hot, soapy water works great. Plus, you’re cleaning the sprayer at the same time!

    Brush and wash the wheels and axles, dry thoroughly, and lightly apply oil, or a rust-inhibitor, to the axels.

    Using a soft brush, wash the exterior with hot, soapy water. Lightly sand any greasy spots that won’t come clean, and spray those spots with a little clear coat (after drying completely.)

    Wire brush the lid, coal grate, and wind-screen to remove any ash deposits, baked-on gunk,
    or rust.
  2. Shorter Days = Less Light

    Fall means shorter days, and that means chasing daylight. If you don’t have good lighting in the area where you set up you’re La Caja China, consider investing in some clip-on electric lamps. They’re cheap, lightweight,  portable, and snap on just about anything! (I’ve used an old camera tri-pod, and even a tree branch, when nothing else was available!) Make sure you have an all-weather extension cord, and a high-watt bulb in case you can’t clip it within a few feet of the box.

    Not only does good light make the job of cooking easier, it also draws the evening bugs away from the meat, and is a must for safety when cooking with live fire.

We’ll cover the rest of my End of Summer Tips in Part 2, including:

  • How to reduce heat loss from convection
  • Maintaining Box Temp
  • Adjusting charcoal Amounts for cooler weather.

Nether rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night…

~Chef Perry

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

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