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Caja China advice?

Yeah. Seems like there are a few Caja China threads that pop up, but they don't last.

2 days ago
Lobstr in Home Cooking

Caja China advice?

Here's what I ended up doing. I finished cooking the pigs about 4 hours in advance, then just left a few coals on top. I then turned it over the the caterers to keep watch. Ultimately, as I feared, the pigs turned out a bit dry with all that wait time. The skin was still crispy though. I guess that's the trade-off (crispy skin vs. moist meat). But it was still enjoyed by all, and I think I was the only one that critical about it.

Aug 27, 2014
Lobstr in Home Cooking

Slow Cooker Pasilla Pulled Chicken

Thanks. I do think the quicker cook time will help. I layered as instructed, but I suppose it's just too easy to overcook breasts with the given variables like cooker temp and size, etc.

May 15, 2014
Lobstr in Features

Slow Cooker Pasilla Pulled Chicken

I tried it in a slow cooker at low for 7 hours, and the chicken breast came out overcooked and chalky. I just don't think chicken breast can be properly cooked in a slow cooker for just this reason. Chicken thighs would've been great though.

May 11, 2014
Lobstr in Features

Whole Pig Roast - how to hold it for hours before serving?

200 pounds? Damn, that's sizable, John. I'm roasting two 60 pounders in caja chinas.

Apr 29, 2014
Lobstr in Home Cooking

Whole Pig Roast - how to hold it for hours before serving?

Thanks, Cheez62. Glad to hear that drying the pig hasn't been an issue for you.

Yes, I'm talking about a whole pig, and serving it whole

Apr 28, 2014
Lobstr in Home Cooking

Whole Pig Roast - how to hold it for hours before serving?

Using a caja china. Takes about 4.5 hours total. The last half hour is the crisping up of the skin, which I need to be present for. Hence, the "finishing it early and holding it"...

Apr 28, 2014
Lobstr in Home Cooking

Whole Pig Roast - how to hold it for hours before serving?

To the folks who have done whole pig roasts:

How far in advance of serving have you FINISHED the roasting, and what did you do to hold it? In the past, the roasts I've done in a caja china were served immediately, but now I'm doing one for my wedding, and, for obvious reasons, I have to finish it all a few hours before dinner time.

Could be 4 hours before serving. I'm thinking of leaving just a few coals on to keep warm, but I'm worried about it drying out.

What do caterers do in this situation?

[I originally posted this in another thread, but figure it's better as a new question]

Apr 27, 2014
Lobstr in Home Cooking
1

Caja China advice?

To the folks who have done whole pig roasts:

How far in advance of serving have you FINISHED the roasting, and what did you do to hold it? In the past, the roasts I've done were served immediately, but now I'm doing one for my wedding, and, for obvious reasons, I have to finish it all a few hours before dinner time.

Could be 4 hours before serving. I'm thinking of leaving just a few coals on top to keep warm, but I'm worried about it drying out. What do caterers do?

Apr 27, 2014
Lobstr in Home Cooking

Peeling Onions by the bushel

I use a slightly different peeling method.
1) Cut the onion in half, pole to pole.
2) Cut out the stem end-- not with a flat cut, but with a v-notch cut: turn the onion half so the cut side is up on the cutting board, tilt it slightly with one hand, then make the v-notch cut. In other words, I cut into the exposed flat side, not the outer peel side, down into the board (not in the air)
3) I do this cut quickly, so it's not perfect. That means the two cuts of the V don't completely match up on the peel side. Thus, when I go to pull out the notched chunk, some of the outer peel goes with it. That makes it much easier to peel, since getting the peel started is usually the cumbersome part.

This method also gives you less waste (a flat cut to remove the stem end removes more useable onion than a V-notch).

If the description doesn't make complete sense, just try it. You'll see.

Sep 20, 2013
Lobstr in Home Cooking

Hatch chiles [Split from Boston board]

The PR machine in LA is what. Hatch chiles made a huge splash at supermarkets starting last year as if some fancy caviar was just discovered. Ralphs and Bristol Farms at least. "Hatch Chiles here for only two weeks!" "Hatch Roasting this weekend only!" They made it out to be uber special. "Only grown for two months out of the year!" They put up entire display stands with Hatch chiles, cookbooks, Hatch products, tips for how to roast and freeze to have a year's supply.

Maybe in some parts of the country it's a legit, timely novelty. But in LA, Anaheim chiles are available year round.

Aug 31, 2013
Lobstr in General Topics

Hatch Chile Madness?

Yes. I just bought some (Bristol Farms in Los Angeles) and... I don't get it. Not that it's not tasty, but there's nothing special about it to me. Basically a spicy Anaheim chile. I feel like I've been swindled by the PR folks -- when something is only available for a month or two out of the year, it must be special, right?

@amazininc: yes, Padron chiles... now, those guys ARE tasty.

Aug 30, 2013
Lobstr in General Topics

Hatch chiles [Split from Boston board]

Yes, exactly, bbqboy. Thanks for linking that.

Aug 30, 2013
Lobstr in General Topics

Hatch chiles [Split from Boston board]

I just bought some (Bristol Farms in Los Angeles) and... I just don't get it. Not that it's not tasty, but there's nothing special about it to me. It's basically a spicy Anaheim chile. I feel like I've been swindled by the PR folks -- when something is only available for a month or two out of the year, it must be special, right?

Anyone else?

Aug 30, 2013
Lobstr in General Topics

Pig Roast

Awesome. That had me laughing.

Jun 10, 2013
Lobstr in Home Cooking

Caja China advice?

It really does cook that fast. A bigger pig takes a bit longer, but it's not a linear equation. I'm sure someone has/will do some scientific tests, but I believe there's some pressure-cooker effect going on inside the closed box which allows it to cook that quick. Best to stick a probe thermometer in the pig to monitor the internal temp w/o having to open the box.

As for bringing the pig to 70 degrees, that can be frustrating, especially if it's not that warm in the morning. If you have it in a bathtub, just turn on the warm water. If it's in a cooler, maybe you can do a similar thing by removing the ice, turning on a hose and letting it fill it with room temp water while allowing the water to drain out so there's a constant flow (convection).

Oct 23, 2012
Lobstr in Home Cooking

Caja China advice?

Nicely done. So what's your final verdict, comparing Kent to closer/cheaper options?

Sep 10, 2012
Lobstr in Home Cooking

Caja China advice?

Good omen, I say. Looking forward to the post-game report.

Sep 06, 2012
Lobstr in Home Cooking

Caja China advice?

How much does it cost from Kent? I assume it's a fresh (not previously frozen) pig?
Please let us know how it goes.

Sep 06, 2012
Lobstr in Home Cooking

Caja China advice?

If you've got a pig that good to begin with (ooh sounds good), I wouldn't do too much to it. Good instincts to skip the mojo. You want to taste the real porcine deliciousness of that fine animal. I'd still inject it with a simple salt brine, though. At least in the leaner parts. Then maybe tuck some herbs into the internal cavity where they won't burn, mainly to perfume it. Sounds like you don't need much more than that except maybe a serving sauce/glaze on the side (a light apple or other fruit-based sauce, compote, or even salsa).

Where did you get the pig, Cherie? Sounds like awesomeness there.

Oh, If you need, I offer my taste-testing services free of charge.

Sep 04, 2012
Lobstr in Home Cooking

Caja China advice?

Leave the head on! A whole pig roast won't be the same if you have a headless pig. No personality. Might as well just get some pork shoulders at that point. Also, the cheek meat is arguably the tastiest part.

As for info and a good method for making sure the pig comes up to temperature before roasting (70 degrees), see my previous post: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7005...
It definitely makes a difference if you've planned ahead for that. On the day, however, if your pig is still only at 60 degrees and it's game time, just start roasting. Yes, it'll take longer, but it'll take a WHOLE lot longer if you keep waiting for it to come to room temp before putting it in.

Aug 07, 2012
Lobstr in Home Cooking

Caja China advice?

Garistone is right. After the flip, you most likely didn't have enough heat from the pan and/or didn't roast long enough. Leathery skin is just a stage before getting to crispy crackle-iciousness. The last addition of coals after the flip is specifically for crisping up the skin, so make sure to scoop out excess ash (which insulates) and add enough coals. And like Garistone said, don't worry about leaving the lid ajar. There's moisture in the box, but the skin is so close to the heat source, it'll still crisp. If you check and the skin is still leathery, just put the lid back on and go longer. And finally, don't blame the salt rub -- it would only have helped, not hurt.

Aug 07, 2012
Lobstr in Home Cooking

Your whole roast pig options in L.A. (fresh and pre-roasted included)

I've used Broadleaf the last few times I roasted a pig. Great place. The pigs came unfrozen.

When I first called around, I thought for certain I could buy a whole, uncooked pig from an asian or latino market. And I'm still certain you can, if you know the magic password phrase (something like "I am not from the Health Department"). So thanks for compiling the info, odub.

As for roasting your own, I highly recommend it. Here's a whole primer I wrote up on the various roasting methods: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7005...

Overall, the Caja China is much simpler than the cinder-block method. Here are details of how I built my homemade caja china (with photos): http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7005...

Buying a pig pre-roasted is indeed simpler and quicker (not necessarily cheaper), but your guests will miss out on SO much of the fun. And you will miss out on the primal thrill of cooking a beast, the adulation of blissful diners, and the swooning hearts of young maidens besotted with your culinary awesomeness. If you're into that kind of thing.

Jun 27, 2012
Lobstr in Los Angeles Area

Pig Roast

To answer my previous question about bringing the chilled pig up to room temp:

After doing lots of research, I've come to the conclusion that most people won't officially give you advice that veers from official USDA recommendations... if they even give you advice. That's because no one wants to mess with the messy issue of food poisoning. You know, liability and all. Essentially, it comes to how comfortable you feel with your meat (yes, laugh). Most backyard chefs have raw meat that sits in the so-called temperature danger zone longer than their lawyers would like. And for the most part, it's OK (CYA disclaimers of my own here -- at your own risk, blah blah...).

Just remember, soft/raw eggs are also a big no-no according to the official lawyer-ly code. But we all do it anyway (and include the same CYA disclaimers).

Everyone stresses how you should start roasting with a pig that's at room temp. Just like how you should let a raw steak come up to room temp before cooking it -- aka "tempering". Well, I'll say it for the record -- it takes a really damned long time for a chilled pig to warm up to room temp if you just let it sit at room temp. Last time, I had the unfrozen pig in ice in the bathtub overnight. I took it off the ice an hour or two before roasting in the morning. After 1.5 hours, it barely got above 48 degrees F. And because I was all freaked out about the danger zone, I just started the roast while it was cold. (still turned out OK, but took longer)

Next time, I won't be as freaked out to let it sit. Yes, I know I'm inviting critics to tell me all about their experiences with food-borne baddies. But I feel comfortable letting good meat come up to temp -- I'm talking about home cooking, not commercial operations. It's about your own comfort level here.

Next time, I have another strategy to try:
On the morning of the roast, since the pig is already in the bathtub, why not just turn on the hot/warm water and let it soak, thereby hastening the tempering process? The only downside is then having to dry it off well before roasting, but I can live with that if it 1) saves time, 2) makes a better cooked pig, 3) theoretically keeps diners more alive, and 4) makes the worriers less worried.

And no, I'm not giving you official advice. That would make my lawyer unhappy.

Jun 27, 2012
Lobstr in Home Cooking

What happened to "hacks"?

What happened to the ability to "hack" recipes? I don't see that button anymore (or any updated version of it)

Oct 26, 2011
Lobstr in Site Talk

How to save/favorite a story?

How do I "save to profile" or "add to favorites" a story on CHOW? Not a Chowhound thread (I know that you just click the "Save to Profile" with threads/boards) -- I'm talking about articles/stories/galleries on CHOW. No "Save" buttons there. With all the changes, I still have yet to see how to do it.

Oct 26, 2011
Lobstr in Site Talk

Pig Roast

Perry, how long before roasting do you typically take the pig off ice in order to let it come to room temperature (obviously it'll depend on size, but any rules of thumb)? And are you worried about that so-called danger zone of temperature if it sits at room temp too long? Last time I roasted a pig, I didn't let it come all the way up to room temp (with the obvious tradeoff of longer cooking time).

Oct 21, 2011
Lobstr in Home Cooking

On the First Match.com Date, Who Pays?

Let's get one thing clear: there's a difference between "treating" and "being obligated to pay." If a woman likes a man to pay b/c it's a nice treat, then that's ALL that is. A treat. Completely different if she EXPECTS him to pay, making it an obligation. Everyone who argues that the man must pay on the first date solely because of his gender is not facing the simple truth that that's just plain sexist. If I pay for a woman, I choose to do so as a treat; if she expects me to pay, then it's no longer my treat.

And if she's right to expect me to pay, then what am I right to expect of her? (No, I'm not talking about THAT.) That she should not be working outside the home? That she should not get paid the same wage as a man for the same job? Because after all, that's the flip side and the basis for all of these men-paying traditions.

Call it chivalry, masculine protectiveness, or whatever you want, but those are just nice ways of saying men and women are not equal (which equals sexism).

Can't have it both ways (and that's for both men and women). If you argue that a man should always pay, ask yourself honestly if you can justify that reasoning logically. Rationally. Not just the "oh, well, that's just how I feel." And in all aspects, like in the aforementioned workplace or equal rights or Title IX; not just where you find yourself on the side of benefit. Be honest. Really.

Notice that I'm talking about paying based SOLELY on gender. If it's a matter of who makes more $, that's a different matter. And one that I absolutely can justify logically.

<Candycotton> seems appalled that a guy actually accepted her offer to pay -- in other words, that he took her at her word. She says she only "offered to split as a courtesy." Not because she actually meant what she said.

"Every time he asked me out it was like he was spending my money- and I couldn't afford it even if I was just feeding myself! "

Huh? He was spending HER money...? By splitting the bill? I might be missing something here, but she never paid for him. She's furious because she had to SPLIT the bill and pay for her own part. Which she couldn't afford. Yet she continued going out with him.

And when she went out with another guy who made less $ than she, she still expected that guy to pay. And called it sweet. Perhaps she could've just paid for him and then they'd both have eaten a full meal.

To <truffles2>: So women who want to date a bunch guys should pay for it also, right?

I'm not even gonna bother addressing the argument about women having to spend more on making themselves to look nice.

Where does Helena come from? The 50's? Again, apply all of your gender rules consistently and see what holds water. Honestly. Really.

Finally, to <buttermarblepopcorn>: Right on. Right - on. (pat on the back).

Pick a world to live in, people. Preferably the modern one.

Aug 19, 2011
Lobstr in Features

Pig Roast

Thanks, RxDiesel. I forgot to mention one aspect of the construction of my box: the all-important bottle opener. You can see it one of the photos above. The box just wouldn't work the same without it. Structurally speaking, of course.

Apr 13, 2011
Lobstr in Home Cooking

Pig Roast

Thanks porker, and thanks for your various posts last year -- great help when I was researching.
Unfortunately, the basic caja china method doesn't incorporate smokiness (since it's a closed box/oven system with the heat source). You can buy an electric smoker unit to attach to it, but I don't know how well it works, and it requires some special wood pellets. Some folks have tried putting smoke chips in a pan inside the box, but that may be problematic because there's fresh airflow if it's all contained inside. Someone with more smoke experience could probably give a more detailed explanation of the potential problems there.

I'd love to try the cinder block pit method for, like you said, adding to my repertoire, and to see if the smokiness is worth the extra work.

One bonus of the caja china method that I didn't describe above is that you can also double duty it as a regular BBQ grill while you're cooking the pig inside. Just rig up a rack above the charcoal tray.

If/when I build another one, I think I'd build a hinged side door so I could slide the pig in and out instead of having to remove the charcoal tray and accessing from the top. But that would be more complicated design, whereas the one I built was about simplicity.

As for cleaning... I lined the inside with heavy duty foil and put disposable roasting pans on the bottom to catch the drippings, so all I needed to do was remove those and toss 'em (keeping the juices of course). Next time, just re-line.

Apr 13, 2011
Lobstr in Home Cooking