Monday, December 22, 2008

Caja China Chicken Test

In preparation for the most important dinner of the year (the Noche Buena pig roast), I decided to test the cooking performance of the Caja China that we bought recently. I used self-starting coals to get the grill hot, though didn't use enough coals to cover the top of the box (mistake #1). After the coals were white-hot, I added Kingsford charcoals using roughly the same amount I had started with, and once again waited for them to be hot enough to spread and get more coverage of the top of the box.

By 5:15, I was ready to add the roaster chicken I had purchased for the test. This chicked was still quite cold for having sat in the trunk of my car in 15 °F weather for most of the day. The Caja China instructions advise adding meat that has been warmed to room temperature, but I decided to go for it anyway (mistake #2).

At the end of the first hour of cooking, we flipped the chicken. I could hear that the skin on the bottom of the bird (which had been facing the heat from above) was crispy as we flipped it over. I thought this was a good sign and that the chicken would soon be done and ready to eat. After flipping it, I recovered the tray of coals on top of the box and added a nominal amount of charcoals to the tray (mistake #3). The instructions say to add roughly 1/2 bag (8 lbs.) of charcoal after flipping the bird, but I didn't added that much.

Forty-five minutes later, I peaked into the box to see if I could read the meat thermometer we had added to the bird. The top was not as brown and crispy looking as I had expected it would. I realize now that I should have followed the charcoal amount recommendations to the letter. This will definitely happen when we cook on the afternoon of Noche Buena.

As you can see from the video, the chicken is a good shade of brown near the neck of the bird, but much less so near the bottom. The ambient temperature for the entire cooking episode was roughly 20 °F and the forecast for the day of Noche Buena calls for similar weather. I expect to post more details after we get the pig and start the prep. This is the first time I have ever roasted a whole pig and am really excited about it!

1 comment:

Michael Easter said...

Great idea to set up a testing stage before "rolling out to production" with the pig! This is really neat