I saw Bobby Flay cooking a pork butt, Korean style in a Caha China. Actually, the show was on in the background, so I didn't get a full description of this as he was describing.
Has anyone used one of these? We don't have one, and I was thinking we could use our smoker.
I have two Caja China... had the first for over ten years - then I upgraded to the steel sided version!
Correct, they are not "smokers" they are roasters. They are also called a "Cajun Microwave" - they cook via heat convection from the coals in the pan above the meat circulating around inside the box.
I can cook a 50lb Pig to succulent, crispy skinned deliciousness in about 6 hours. Thats about 18 hours less than if you were to smoke it. If you like smoke flavor you can get the "Smoke Pistol" that comes with the newer model Caja China. I prefer my pigs roasted, so I dont use it.
You can also add flavor to the meat by injecting the pig with a flavored brine solution. You can also rub it down with your favorite pork rub before you put it in the oven.
I recently roasted a whole 55lb lamb in less than 5 hours. The Roast Lamb was DELICIOUS... and could easily serve 25 or more people. I wouldnt do lamb another way anymore.
We ended up doing this in our electric smoker. Being marinated, it created an incredible amount of liquid. But, the pork was AWESOME!!! We did a test run w/ a smaller butt a week before our party. We smoked 2 9lb butts for our dinner party, and had very little leftover. The BBQ sauce was great too. I made my own Asian coleslaw. Here's the recipe for the pork.
I've used them quite a bit ten years ago, but they aren't smokers. I had one loaned to me by a chef friend who was given several by the manufacturer. They basically steam roast the meat. Tender meat, almost too much, but the thing is you either have to rely on herbs and spices for flavor. Or get heritage pork. I don't think they are worth the money, but you can make them real cheap. Plans are easily found online.
Hey JMF, howya doin?
I'd have to disagree with you on two points:
I don't think you can make them real cheap and plans are not so easily found on-line.
I DID think along the same lines two years ago when I decided to make my own.
However, I only found one site offering a free set of plans, but they were not very good to begin with (I think you now have to pay for the same).
Material alone will run you more than purchasing a true caja china.
Theres also what I'd call the 'Homer Simpson birdhouse effect': if you're not handy with tools and/or basic carpentry, the end product might end up, well, looking like a Homer Simpson birdhouse...
However, I went ahead and am in the process (yeah, its been a long process, but thats another story) of making my own. Not to save money, but to build something to my specs (the heat source will be charcoal and INSIDE the box requiring ventilation and port holes and grates, etc) and for the sake of doing it. Plus I wanted a more portable pig cooker (I usually do hogs in an above-ground cinder block pit - portable, but no fun hauling 50+ cinderblocks around from place to place).
Is the caja china worth the money? I dunno.
The biggest drawback (to me) is that its a roaster (I'm dubious of the smoke pistol, although I've never tried...). A great plus is that its portable and you can cook whole (although smallish) hogs, lambs, goats, etc.
Different folks, different strokes.
I don't think you NEED a caja china to do a pork butt. As BiscuitGuy says, Flay has lotsa cool stuff. The caja china (to many) is a cool gadjet that looks pretty good on your deck.
Flay has lots of cool outdoor cooking gear...Bobby, you hear me? If you ever get tired of your egg, gimme a call, I'll come pick it up!
The cajachina is kind of cool, but I don't understand why you'd need one. A slow smoldering fire in a wooden cabinet is madenesss, no? Isn't it all just to simulate a hole in the ground? Save the $250 and use your smoker, or dig your own hole