Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Monthly Rubdown: Pork Barrel BBQ

The Monthly Rubdown: Pork Barrel BBQ -

Pork Barrel BBQIssuing a proclamation of monumental flavor is a tall order for any product to live up to. Only a brand hailing from our nations capital thats been produced and distributed by ex-politicians would issue such a promise to the citizens of the United States. Luckily these politicians are originally from Missouri, so theyve got a true barbecue agenda that cant be swayed by lobbyist kickbacks or political bribery. Weve been sampling their products for a few weeks now, and we can confidently confirm that you can take these politicians for their word with their Pork Barrel BBQ products!

Pork Barrel BBQ might be a familiar face for those of you that enjoy a little recreational television every once in a while. The creators, Heath and Brett, were introduced to mainstream America though ABCs hit show Shark Tank. If youre not familiar with the program, its premise is that promising entrepreneurs pitch their start-up business concepts to investment sharks in hopes of striking a deal that will help propel their products to the forefront of main street America. Many have stood in front of the sharks only to have their dream business criticized, speculated, and dismissed, but the Pork Barrel guys came away with a different experience. Heres a clip from their appearance on the show:

Since striking a deal with Barbara, these guys have been on a nation-wide campaign to win over the American public. Theyve definitely earned our vote, so weve added their line of BBQ rub and sauce to our ever expanding BBQ Addicts online store. Their original flavor is a ketchup based sauce that features a strong vinegar flavor. A bold Worcestershire flavor comes through in the middle, which is followed by decent amount of heat. As with most vinegar heavy sauces, its rather thin so that the flavors are absorbed when pour over a sandwich or heaping pile of pulled pork.

The sweet version is also a ketchup based, but is more of a true Kansas City style sauce. Its classically sweetened with a hearty dose of molasses, and theres notes of herbs and spices that come together with a pleasant heat to create a balanced and extremely delicious flavor. The sauce is on the thicker side, which makes it perfect for glazing your meal just before it comes off the grill.

The mustard sauce is on the sweeter side as well, as theres a nice honey flavor to balance the vinegar. A strong herb presence gives it a unique, but very tasty flavor. Its also a thicker sauce, which makes is great for glazing and/or dipping.

The rub is a spice heavy product that has smokey quality to it. A quick glance at the ingredient list reveals smoked paprika and chipotle chiles, which quickly accounts for its source. In similar fashion to the mustard sauce, theres a strong herb presence, but also a solid heat. I was very happy with my test cook on some chicken wings, which I glazed with the sweet sauce. I did notice a lack of sugar in the rub (personal preference), but a quick glaze of sauce more than made up for it.

Pork Barrel BBQ

All four of their products are all-natural with no preservatives or MSG, and the Sweet and Mustard sauces are gluten free.

Pork Barrel BBQ Original Sauce (12 oz) $5.49
Pork Barrel BBQ Sweet Sauce (12 oz) $5.49
Pork Barrel BBQ Mustard Sauce (12 oz) $5.49
Pork Barrel BBQ All-American Spice Rub (4.5 oz) $5.99
Pork Barrel BBQ Rub/Sauce Combo (Original Sauce and All-American Rub) $10.99

Heath and Brett were also nice enough to pass along two shirts and a hat for us to give away. So the first 3 people to place an order for Pork Barrel BBQ products AND make mention of the freebies in the comments section of their order will get hooked up.

Gourmand World Cookbook Awards Best In The World

Gourmand World Cookbook Awards Best In The World -

Gourmand World Cookbook AwardsBack in December we received the news that our book BBQ Makes Everything Better had been selected as the USA winner in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards Best Barbecue Book category. As part of that honor, our book advanced to the next level in the competition as the USA representative for The Best Barbecue Book in the World award. There were 12 total barbecue books representing their respective countries, of which the top 4 finalists (including us) were invited to Paris to take part in the formal awards ceremony on the first day of the Paris Cookbook Fair. And on the evening of March 3rd, 2011 at the historical Theatre des Folies Bergre in Paris, France in front of over 1,200 publishers, authors, chefs, journalists, foodies and spectators, BBQ Makes Everything Better was officially named The Best Barbecue Book in the World!!!

Gourmand World Cookbook Awards

Immediately following the ceremony, the crowd gathered in the great hall of the theater for a celebratory champagne toastalthough we found a table giving out free shots of Dragon Bleu Vodka, so we quickly kicked our celebrating into full gear with some new found friends from Australia and Panama!

In all seriousness though, accepting this award was a huge honor for us. There were world renowned chefs and authors being recognized that night, so its extremely humbling experience to be mentioned in the same breath. Some of the more recognizable names that were nominated this year were Jaime Oliver, Nigella Lawson and Eric Ripert. Huge thanks go out to our publisher, as well as our friends and family, for all of the support and trust youve had in us throughout this entire process. And an even bigger thanks goes out to everyone whos purchased the book!

Okay, now back to details of the event. The awards ceremony was held in conjunction with the Paris Cookbook Fair. As part of the fair, they had a display section that featured all of the books that the Gourmand World Cookbooks Awards had recognized. It didnt take long for us to track down the barbecue section:

Gourmand World Cookbook Awards

Each of these books won their respective country, and the Best in the World finalists are denoted with the circular red sticker. For some reason two of the books werent on display (could be thievery, as our book also disappeared after the second day), but here is a rundown of all the finalists:

Argentina: Parrillas de Buenos Aires Pierto Sorba
Australia: Fired Up Ross Dobson
Belgium: Op de Barbecue Dominique Wynter
Canada: Napoleons Everyday Gourmet Burgers Ted Reader
China: Delicious Homemade Barbecue Chi Xianjun
Columbia: Secretos de la Parrilla Bernardo Gomez Cortazar
Denmark: Brug laget nar du giller pletskud & cowboytricks Miriam Glaesel and Jan Glaesel
Germany: Steak Pur! Steffen Eichhorn, Stefan Marquard and Stephan Otto
Russia: Grilling, Barbecue. The Complete Encyclopedia Paul Y. Pershin and E. Poletayev
Sweden: Paul Grillar Paul Svensson
Switzerland: Grill-Ueli Ulrich Bernold
USA: BBQ Makes Everything Better Aaron Chronister and Jason Day

I flipped through all of them to check out the competition, but Ted Readers book was the only other one printed in English (and by the way, I own a copy of Napoleons Everyday Gourmet Burgers, and its definitely a must-have for any BBQ library). Judging by the pictures, each of these books look to be jam-packed full of delicious recipes. Hopefully well be seeing some of them translated for the US markets in the future.

The Cookbook Fair also had demo kitchens that featured a non-stop barrage of gourmet foods being prepared by world-renowned chefs. We sat in on countless cooks and photographed every bit of food we sampled, which ranged from foie gras torchons to rose marshmallows. Unfortunately, the SD card from our digital camera magically disappeared while our room was being cleaned on our second to last day in Paris. By that time the fair had already ended, and we had moved on to site seeing. Soyoure just going to have to take our word that the food looked amazing, and tasted even better. Or just head over to the official Facebook fan page for the Gourmand Magazine and check out the steam of video and pictures they took during the festival.

Luckily we spent our last day tooling around the Eiffel Tower, so we got a few shots to prove we were there!

Jason Day Jason Day

Special shot outs go to everyone we met while in Paris, as this was a rare opportunity to mingle amongst fellow foodies of the world. We look forward to staying in touch with all of you, and hopefully we can meet again!

The Monthly Rubdown: C-Dubs BBQ

The Monthly Rubdown: C-Dubs BBQ -

C-Dub's RubsWhen thinking of Seattle, BBQ normally isnt the first thing that comes to mind. Most people probably conjure up images of Starbucks coffee, rainy afternoons, or an endless crowd of grungy flannel shirts. While each of those have certainly cemented their place in the citys ever changing pop-culture, weve got our taste buds locked on a new line of BBQ rub thats looking to re-brand the upper Northwest as the new BBQ hotbed.

C-Dubs BBQ is a family run business from Seattle that draws strong influence from Carolina style BBQ, which is where C-Dub himself originally hails. Their line of all-natural organic rubs carry a big bold flavor thats designed to enhance and compliment that taste of your favorite meats. A quick taste reveals a garlic front-end accentuated with a touch of salt, that fades into a herb middle and finishes with a slight sweetness. The Voodoo Rub sports the same flavors, but also has a building heat that joins the party half way through. Its not an overwhelming heat by any means, but just enough to let you know thats something else is going on in there. These rubs have quickly become my go-to selection for chicken wings..especially the spicy Voodoo!!!

C-Dub's Rubs

Both of C-Dubs rubs are now available in our BBQ Addicts online store, and as always, you can save a buck when purchasing both.

C-Dubs BBQ Rub (5.5 oz. shaker) 7.99
C-Dubs Voodoo Rub (5.5 oz. shaker) 7.99
C-Dubs Rubs Combo (2 x 5.5 oz. shakers) 14.99

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Leftover Recipe: Grilled Reuben Pizza

Leftover Recipe: Grilled Reuben Pizza -

TupperwareEvery year for St. Patricks Day I load up the smoker with corned beef brisket to make homemade pastrami. Being Irish, this is the perfect meal that combines my heritage with my passion for barbecue. This years pastrami smoke-out took place a couple weekends ago, and was once again a huge success. But now that Ive been eating sandwiches for the better part of two weeks, its time to throw a little variety into the mix. My buddy, and Burnt Finger BBQ teammate, Gish was having a grilled pizza party for March Madness, so we packed up the pastrami fixins to test out our new grilled Reuben pizza recipe for our leftovers.

Gish is a home-brew master, so hes been working on his own beer dough recipe lately. I dont have the recipe that he uses, so youll just have to make do with a store-bought dough, or you can run a Google search for pizza dough recipes and pick out one that you like.

Once youve got the dough formed into the pizza shape you want, top it with a mustard/kraut sauce. We used a product called Must-A-Kraut, but this could easily be replicated by mixing sauerkraut, mustard, horseradish, and a splash of vinegar. Layer on a thick coating of Must-A-Kraut, as this will add good moisture to your cooked pizza.

Reuben Pizza

Next, pile on the sliced pastrami. The one I made could have used a little more meat, so doesnt hesitate to load up. Just think of those giant Reuben sandwiches in the New York delis. More is definitely better in this case.

Reuben Pizza

Top the whole thing off with fresh grated Jarlsberg cheese. A traditional Reuben uses Swiss, but I really like the flavor of Jarlsberg. Its similar to Swiss, but has more nutty and sweet flavors. Plus I think it melts a little better than Swiss, which works well for pizzas.

Reuben Pizza

The grill racks were slid back inside the Good-One Rodeo, which we had cruising along at 400 degrees, for about 20 minutes (or until the crust was crispy and cheese was melted). We had the top two racks loaded with pizzas, and the upper one was running just a little hotter, so the pizzas on the lower rack stayed in a couple minutes longer.

Reuben Pizza

Just before serving I drizzled thousand island dressing across the top of the pizza.

Reuben Pizza

I must say that this thing came out fantastic! So much so, that we made another one so everyone could have a slice. This recipe is definitely a keeper, and may have even inspired me to make pastrami more than once a year!

Sausage Recipe: Smoking Fatties

Sausage Recipe: Smoking Fatties -

Naked FattyIn its purest form, a fatty is most easily described as those sausage chubs that you can find at most grocery stores. The brands can vary (especially when dealing with smaller local markets), but some of the most common national brands are Jimmy Dean, Bob Evans and Hormel. The concept is simple, but extremely effective. Carefully remove the plastic sleeve leaving the chub shape intact, season with your favorite barbecue rub, and toss it on the smoker. Sound familiar? Well, this is the technique that inspired our Bacon Explosion recipe.

Our friend Ron Lewen has recently devoted himself to a world-wide campaign dedicated to Saving the Naked Fatty. As much as we enjoy the extravagant bacon wrapped and cheese stuffed fatties that are floating around the interwebs these days, we wanted to pay tribute to Rons efforts and dish up our version of the fore-father to the Bacon Explosion. Those of you that are fans of our BBQ Addicts Facebook page got a sneak peek of this recipe over the weekend, but now were rolling out the entire process with even more pictures!

We started out by picking up a couple of 1 pound sausage chubs at the grocery store. We like our food on the hotter side, so I went with a medium and a hot.

Naked Fatty

Carefully remove the plastic sleeve while trying not to disturb the natural chub shape. Once removed, sprinkle gingerly with your favorite barbecue rub. I chose to use our Burnt Finger BBQ Pork Rub because of the lower salt content, but any will do. Just keep in mind that sausage is already seasoned pork, so the sodium levels can get out of control really quickly if go heavy on the rub.

Naked Fatty

Place the sausage on a grill or smoker over indirect heat at 250 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, which will take about an hour.

Naked Fatty

While the sausage was smoking away on the grill, I sauteed some sweet yellow onions and fresh jalapenos in a touch of grape seed oil.

Naked Fatty

After about 30 minutes I took a quick peek to add some more wood chips, and this is what I found inside the grill.

Naked Fatty

Once the sausage reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees, give it a quick glazing of barbecue sauce. I used our brand new Pork Barrel BBQ Sweet Sauce. The sugar in the sauce will thicken and caramelize as the sausage finishes cooking.

Naked Fatty

Once the sausage reaches 160 degrees, remove it from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes so the juices can settle back into the meat. Since these are relatively small pieces of meat, I just let them rest until Im able to handle them without burning my fingers. Bigger cuts of meat like briskets and butts would need to rest quite a bit longer because they retain quite a bit more heat. Once cooled, slice the fatties into 1/4 to 1/2 inch discs.

Naked Fatty

We liked the flavor of the hot sausage better, so I placed all of the discs from that fatty on a warm freshly baked baguette.

Naked Fatty

I then topped the meat off with the onions and peppers

Naked Fatty

and drizzled barbecue sauce over the entire sandwich.

Naked Fatty

As simple as this dish is, its extremely tasty and an extremely easy sausage recipe and a way to get your barbecue fix in the middle of the week when you dont have time for those long smoke sessions. Show us your fatty by posting pictures to our Facebook fan page.

Sams Club Book Signing

Sams Club Book Signing -

Sam's ClubLast Tuesday marked the paperback release of our book BBQ Makes Everything Better. To celebrate this occasion, and help raise some money for local children, were teaming up with Sams Club to put on a fund raising barbecue event at their store in Independence, MO. To help fill the bellies of all the BBQ Addicts strolling through that day, our friend Todd Johns of the famed Pork Pullin Plowboys barbecue team (ahem2009 American Royal Grand Champion) will be on site serving up pulled pork, ribs, hot dogs, and brats featuring his line of Plowboys Rubs topped off with our Burnt Finger BBQ sauce.

The festivities kick off at 11:00 am on Saturday May 14 at the Independence Sams Club on 4100 Bolger Drive. Well be signing copies of our international award winning barbecue cookbook until 1:00 and food will be available until 6:00 with all donations and proceeds from the event to support the building of Childrens Mercy East, a specialty clinic and urgent care center to be located at I-70 and Little Blue Parkway.

Children's Mercy Hospital

Childrens Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, located in Kansas City, Mo., is one of the nations top pediatric medical centers. The 314-bed hospital provides care for children from birth through the age of 18, and has been recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center with Magnet designation for excellence in nursing services, and ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of Americas Best Childrens Hospitals. Its faculty of 600 pediatricians and researchers across more than 40 subspecialties are actively involved in clinical care, pediatric research, and educating the next generation of pediatric subspecialists.

Food Photography: Grilled Rib Eyes

Food Photography: Grilled Rib Eyes -

Food PhotographyFathers Day was last weekend, and I spent the day with my dad doing what fathers and sons do bestgrilling steaks! My entire family is hooked on Fast Eddies Steak Seasoning, so our rib eyes were simply prepared with a dusting of this magical blend of herbs and spices. No marinades, no sauces, no toppings, just perfectly seared beef seasoned to perfection! Toss in some grilled balsamic grilled asparagus spears and a few roasted red peppers, and youve got a meal worthy of holiday!

Food Photography
Photo Credit: Megan Day

Free Stuff: Guy Fieris Summer Grilling Essentials

Free Stuff: Guy Fieris Summer Grilling Essentials -

Guy Fieri FoodWith its great taste and second-to-none versatility, you cant go wrong with pork on the grill especially now that the USDA has lowered pork cooking temperature guidelines to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a three-minute rest time resulting in a juicier, tender, medium-rare grilled masterpiece.

To help ignite your inspiration, the National Pork Board and Guy Fieri are excited to offer a Summer Grilling Essentials prize pack to giveaway to one lucky visitor of our BBQ Addicts community. The lucky winner will be hooked up with everything you need to kick your outdoor cooking into high gear for the second half of the summer grilling season.

The prize pack includes Guys new cookbook Guy Fieri Food: Cookin It, Livin It, Lovin It, four (4) bottles of guys new line of BBQ sauces, the ultimate grilling tool set, a digital thermometer, and a $25 gift card to purchase pork at a local retailer. To get entered into the drawing, all you have to do is leave a comment below and/or on our Facebook fan page letting us know why you love pork. (HINT: commenting in both locations will double your chances of winning!!!) On Monday, August 1st, well randomly select one lucky winner from all those who have entered. Good luck!

Guy Fieri Summer Grilling Essentials

To hype up your appetite awhile you anxiously await the announcement of the winners name, Guy has also hooked us up with a brand new hot-off-the-presses pork recipe.

Cuban-Style Grilled Spare Ribs with Mojo Sauce

8 pounds pork spare ribs, trimmed of excess surface fat, silverskin removed, cut into 5 or 6
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Mojo Sauce
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat an outdoor grill for indirect medium heat. For a gas grill, remove cooking grates.
Preheat grill on high. Turn one burner off. Place disposable aluminum foil pan over off burner
and add 2 cups water. Replace grates. Adjust heat to medium (350F). For a charcoal grill,
place disposable aluminum foil pan on one side of charcoal grate; add 2 cups water. Build
fire on opposite side, and let burn until coals are coated with white ash. Spread coals in grill
opposite pan and let burn 15-20 minutes. Position cooking grate in grill.

Mix granulated garlic, salt, and pepper a together in a small bowl to make a basic seasoning
mix (the bright, bold flavor will come later from the mojo sauce). Season ribs all over, rubbing
seasoning into the ribs well. Arrange ribs over foil pan (a rib rack works great) and cover the
grill. Grill, turning occasionally, until the ribs are nicely browned and the meat is beginning to
pull away from the bones, about 1 1/2 hours. (For a charcoal grill, add 12 briquettes to coals
after 45 minutes.) This gets the ribs nice and smoky for a great base flavor.

Carefully transfer ribs to a platter. Wrap each slab in a double thickness of aluminum foil.
Crimp foil edges to seal packet. Return the ribs to indirect medium heat. (For charcoal grill,
add 12 more briquettes to coals.) Cover and grill ribs until very tender (caused by steam in foil),
about 1 hours.

Meanwhile, make mojo sauce. Process ingredients in blender into smooth sauce, and season
with salt and pepper. Refrigerate to blend flavors, at least 15 minutes. Taste and adjust

seasoning once more just before serving. Makes about 1 1/3 cups.

Return ribs to platter. Carefully unwrap ribsthe ribs will be very steamy and hot, so take care-
-and discard foil. (Ribs can be prepared up to 1 hour ahead at this point. Or cool, cover, and
refrigerate for up to 4 hours.)

Prepare a hot fire in grill. (For a charcoal grill, build a fresh fire, let burn until coals are covered
with ash.) Return unwrapped ribs to grill and cover. Grill, flipping occasionally, until sizzling, 6
to 8 minutes.

Transfer ribs to a carving board and let stand for 5 minutes. Cut into individual ribs and place
on a clean platter. Serve ribs with mojo sauce, allowing each guest to spoon sauce over ribs to

Congratulations to Ken from Ontario for being selected as our winner! Thanks again to everyone who entered our Summer Grilling Essentials Giveaway!

*Please note that The National Pork Board is not sponsoring the giveaway promotion, but rather supplying the prize pool by providing us with the free gift basket.

Cooking Myths: Recipes With Alcohol

Cooking Myths: Recipes With Alcohol -

Cooking With AlcoholThis weekend I was watching reruns of Alton Browns Good Eats (one of my all time favorite cooking shows), and I caught an episode that was completely dedicated to cooking with alcoholwell, mainly wine and beer. Lately I have taken an even more increased interest in incorporating these flavors into my own cooking, so I quickly hit the record button on my DVR. Coincidentally, Alton proceeded to breakdown the science behind two specific recipes that I have been experimenting with extensively myself; wine marinated lamb steaks and beer bread. But that wasnt the nugget of information that piqued my interest.

Weve all seen those cooking shows, live demonstrations, or even have a drunk uncle who glugs a hearty dose of bourbon whiskey into a barbecue sauce and says dont worry, the alcohol will cook off. Its easy to see where this general assumption would come from, as the boiling point of alcohol is significantly lower than the boiling point of water, but the cold hard fact is that you can never cook off the entire amount of alcohol that is added to a dish. You can get close, especially with longer cooking times, but you might be surprised to find out how much of the alcohol content ends up residing in the food you ingest:

Time/Process Alcohol Remaining
Immediate Consumption: 100%
Boil & Remove: 85%
Flamed: 75%
15 Minutes: 40%
30 Minutes: 35%
1 Hour: 25%
2.5 Hours: 5%

For the sake of full disclosure I should let you know that Im nowhere near opposed to having a hearty dose of booze in my food, but I do think it merits attention to know its there. Everyone that cooks and shares meals with friends and family knows that you inevitably encounter individuals with certain dietary restrictions. Being in tune with your ingredients, and how they react during the cooking process, will make you that much more of a versatile grill master. So go ahead and tuck this little tid-bit of information in your back pocket for the time being, as you may need it at some point in the future.

Alton BrownAnd in case youre interested in sampling some of those boozy recipes that Alton was featuring on Good Eats, heres the links to his full rundown over on the Food Network site:

Cheddar Cheese Beer Bread
Lamb Shoulder Chops with Red Wine

Just a fair warning though. If youve never had beer bread, be prepared to become addicted. One taste and your mind will run wild with all the different flavor combinations to pair with your favorite brews.

Birthday Bash: La Caja China Pig Roast

Birthday Bash: La Caja China Pig Roast -

La Caja ChinaBirthdays only come once a year, and milestone birthdays only happen once in a lifetime. It just so happens that I recently passed one of those milestone birthdays and ticked over into the big 30s. Some people like to spend these occasions relaxing on a beach, or sulking about father time catching up with them, but I saw this as a prime opportunity to expand my barbecue horizons into a category of cooking that every great pitmaster must dabble in. So I treated myself to a pre-birthday present by purchasing a La Caja China roasting box and set out on my first pig roast!

The La Caja China roasting box is a fairly unique cooker, especially if youre used to the traditional smokers and/or spit roasters. The best way to describe it is a giant Dutch Oven. Its a large rectangular box thats constructed out of aluminum lined plywood. A butterflied roasting pig gets sealed inside, and then a charcoal fire is lit on the racks sitting on top of the box. The heat from the fire presses down on our little piggy friend, cooking him to perfection in a mere 4 hours!!!

So, the first thing to do when planning a pig roast is to line up a supplier for your pig. I happen to have a connection to a Berkshire pork processor up in Iowa, so I made a call to my contact at Eden Farms. I let them know that I was looking for, and then 3 days before the big cook I had my very own Berkshire pig.

Thawing a Pig

The pig arrived frozen solid, so I iced him down in our bath tub to slowly thaw out over the course of a couple days. (This is the part where I need to thank my wife. Needless to say she was a bit hesitant when I told her that I wanted to thaw a dead pig in our upstairs bathroom, but she understands my addiction and was more than willing to sacrifice our guest bathroom for the weekend.

The key to thawing the pig, especially in a bathtub for a couple days, is to keep him on fresh ice. He (for some reason I refer to the pig as a he) was wrapped in a large plastic bag, so I kept him inside the bag during the thaw. The ice was then packed around the outside of the wrapped pig, and I left the drain open to prevent any standing water from forming. The tub ended up holding the cold temps really well, so I didnt go through near the amount of ice as I was planning. Every 6-8 hours I would check in and add more ice as needed.

Washing a Pig

The morning of the roast we took the pig out of the ice and carried him outside to get prepped for the cooker. To make sure he was good and clean, I gave the pig a good rinse with some water before putting him up on the prep table.

Butterflying a Pig

Once on the table he needed a little knife work before being ready for the box. In order to evenly cook inside the La Caja China, then pig needed to be butterflied to lay flat. To do this, we laid the pig on his back and the I used a large chefs knife and a rubber mallet to split the spine between the two front legs. The cut I made ran a majority of the length of the ribs, but I imagine this could vary depending on the size and anatomy of each animal. I also removed the membrane from the ribs and trimmed off any small hanging pieces of fat.

Injecting a Pig

After trimming we injected him with approximately 1 gallon of my competition pork injection, focusing mainly on the shoulders, hams, and loin. All I had available was a few small hand injectors, so this took a little longer than I was planning. Before my next pig roast I will be investing in larger injector gun or one of those automatic injector pumps. This will save lots of time, and some hand cramps!

Seasoning a Pig

Once injected, I rubbed the entire pig with hefty coating of kosher salt following by a layer of Bad Byrons Butt Rub all across the cavity. I chose to use this rub because it doesnt contain any sugar, which I thought would burn under the high heat produced by the La Caja China.

Once the pig was fully seasoned, we wrapped him back up in plastic with ice bags on top and let him rest for another 4-6 hours to absorb the flavors of the injection and rub. 2 hours before the roast started, I pulled the ice bags off the pig to let him come to room temperature. It was a pretty hot that day, and I had my prep table setup in the garage, so it didnt take long for the pig to come to room temperature. If you were doing this process in an air conditioned room, then you may need to let the pig sit a little longer.

Seasoning a Pig

In hindsight, this is the point at which I made a mistake. Before lowering the pig into the roasting box, youre suppose to secure him inside of a wire rack to help keep him splayed out. Unbeknownst at the time, I had actually secured the racks upside down, which is why there is a bar running through the pigs mouth in the above picture. Instead of the racks acting as a cage to hold the pig together, they act as risers to lift the pig 2-3 inches off of the drip pan. This then allows the hot air to circulate underneath the pig during the cooking process. This was definitely an important detail, so take note of this if you plan to do your own roast.

Seasoning a Pig

After sealing the pig inside the box, all you need to do is follow the simple instructions conveniently printed on the side. 16 pounds of charcoal were lit initially, and then more was added per the recommended timings. After 3 hours of roasting, the pig is then flipped to expose the skin side to direct heat. This makes it nice and crispy!

The flip is when I noticed that something wasnt going as planned. This is the point in the process where you are supposed to score the skin with a knife. The instructions and YouTube videos showed this happening with relative ease. The first slit I made went great, but the skin near the center wasnt quite as tender as I was expecting. I was able to cut through the skin, but it required a bit more umph than the edges. This was because the skin was in contact with the drip pan, so the heat wasnt able to circulate under the pig.

Seasoning a Pig

To make up for the less than tender skin, I let the pig roast a little longer than the recommended time after the flip. After about another hour, the skin became nice and crispy and we were able hoist the golden brown pig from the roasting box and place him on the serving table.

Serving a Pig

The final product was moist and juicy, and the rendered pork fat flavor was unmatched! The only issued caused by my oversight with the rack was that the meat wasnt quite as tender as I would have liked. It never reached the point of being able to pull the meat cleanly from the bone, so we mostly enjoyed sliced pork. Regardless, it was absolutely delicious! I was really surprised at how well the flavor of the rub penetrated the meat. The heat of the roaster really activated those flavors, and they were absorbed by the entire hog.

All in all, my first pig roast was a resounding success! I learned a few lessons along the way, and have a game-plan in place for making my next roast even better. Special thanks to everyone who came out for the birthday bash! I cant think of a better way to spend my 30th birthday than cooking for 100 of my closest family and friends!