The Bottom Line
It is a box, made of wood and lined with marine grade aluminum. Take a pig (under 100 pounds and dressed) locking into the stainless steel racks and lower it into the box. The lid is the charcoal pan. Fill that with burning charcoal and add more every hour. In about four hours the meat is done and ready to eat. Quick, easy, and efficient. That is why they call this style of cooker a Cajun Microwave, and this is the most popular one on the market.
The La Caja China can be seen on dozens of cooking shows and pretty much anywhere people are cooking like this. You may have never heard of it, but it is an amazing seller and despite its appearance (basically ply wood exterior) is can last for years if properly cleaned and cared for.
- Easy way to cook whole animal
- Cooks a small whole hog in about 4 hours
- Can last for years with proper care
- Handles can be clumsy
- It's a big box to store
- 100 pound (live weight) capacity
- Aluminum firebox liner
- Ply wood box construction
- Full size drip pan
- Two stainless steel holding racks
- Comes with instructions and everything need to cook a whole hog
- Manufactured in the United States by La Caja China
Guide Review - La Caja China Aluminum Model# 2 Roasting Box
The challenge of cooking a whole animal, whether lamb or pig, can be daunting. We all tend to have this image of a something tuning on a spit for hours, but that is not the best solution.
Most cultures have a tradition of digging a whole in the ground, lining it with something food safe, putting in the meat and then building a fire over top. This is the secret behind luau or the traditional clambake. The problem is that most of use are not going to dig up the lawn for a cookout. This is where something like this comes in hand.
Sometimes called a Cajun Microwave, this is simply put a box with meat in the bottom and a fire on top, so it works a lot like an oven, slow roasting while holding in all the moisture inside. Much easier than digging a pit in the backyard. In fact this is a pretty simple operation. The hardest part is that foods will need to be flipped half way through cooking. There are racks that will hold what is being cooked and those racks have handles. Since charcoal is loaded on top and allowed to burn freely, more charcoal has to be added every hour, so you can't set this up and head to the movies, but it is about the simplest way to roast a whole hog, or maybe 16 chickens, or 10 pork shoulders.
One thing to point out. This is not a smoker. Foods cooked in the La Caja China (the China part of the name comes from Chinatown in Havana Cuba) do not pick up a smoky flavor like they would in a smoker. On the other hand, if you are the kind of person who will be cooking a whole hog, or something similar on a regular basis this is the easiest and most cost effective way to do that. That being said, it is possible to turn on of these into a smoker. Chef Perry of BurninLoveBBQ.com has written several books about these cookers and has an excellent video that shows how to produce good quantities of smoke.