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Getting the Most out of Your Accessories: Smokers for La Caja China

Posted by Chef Perry P. Perkins on


I own two models of “smoke units” for my various La Caja Chinas: The Smoker Pistol, and the A-Maze-n Wood Pellet Smoker, both box and tubes.

The Smoker Pistol is an electric smoke generator that mounts to the outside of the box and blows in smoke from a single-use cartridge (you purchase the cartridges in multiples). Given average temps and conditions, the Smoker Pistol will provide continuous controllable smoke for up to 4 hours on a single cartridge

The A-Maze-N Smoker is a 5x8x2", durable and portable heavy metal mesh smoke generator, which requires no electricity and has no moving parts. They can be used in just about any smoker or a grill. It weighs about a pound, and produces very little ash. The A-Maze-N Smoker will produces smoke for up to 11 hours on less than a pound of pellets.

Tips for smoking in the magic box...

  • When smoking, I recommend leaving the two end rails - the metal “lips” that slip over the short ends of the box and create the “shelf” that the ash pan sits on. 
  • If you remove those, it leaves a 1/4 inch gap at each end, which will create enough airflow through the box to let the smoker breath, but isn't enough to allow a significant amount of heat to escape, or to add much in the way of cooking time.
  • Secondly, I always set the smoker on a small piece of foil, directly on top of, and centered on, the pig rack.
  • As far as what flavor of pellets to use, well...if you ask ten pit-masters what’s the best wood to smoke a pig with, you'll likely get twelve different answers. 
  • Basic rule of thumb: heavy woods like hickory, oak, etc., for “heavy” meats (beef, pork bison), and light woods (alder, fruit tree, nut-tree) to smoke light meats like fish, fowl, or rabbit.
  • In the end, you want a light, steady smoke that is going to compliment the flavor of the food without overpowering it. My personal favorite for whole hogs, or shoulders is half oak, half pecan pellets.
  • Keep your pellets dry, dry, dry! Smoker pellets will suck moisture out of the air, and I would guesstimate that at least 95% of people who have trouble getting these smokers to light, and to keep burning, have allow their pellets to get damp.
  • Lastly, of course…NO PEEKING! Yes, it smells amazing, yes, you pig is becoming a glistening mahogany thing of beauty…you’ll have plenty of time to “ohh and ahh” when she’s finished roasting!

Both units do what their made to do – produce smoke. However, the requirement of an electrical plug in is problematic for me, as I find myself cooking in places that have no power on a fairly regular basis. Also, and honestly, the smoke pistol can be bit of a learning curve (or maybe you just need be smarter than me...)

That said, there are many thousands of folks out their happily smoking up delicious meals with both.

Try them both and decide for yourself, but no matter what...get some smoke on that pig!

~ Chef Perry

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