First up is a list of things you need, you can substitute as you wish, this is what I used; 260 lb Pig - Professionally butchered and dehaired, tell them it’s fo… We added more charcoal every 20 minutes or so. [1] Now you can! You earned this. NOTE: This is the final part of a three-part series on preparing a Cuban style whole pig roast with a custom-built La Caja China. 1 The first step is to place the hog ribs up between the two interior racks and secure with the “s” hooks. A classic for sure. Add pork and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until it browns, 8-10 minutes. They offered their location to host a pig roast, and I offered to buy the pig. You’ll need to remove some coals and cover the burning areas of the pig with foil. When starting the Caja China (which should include instructions—unless you built it from the ground-up yourself), the temperature inside should be low—between 275 to 325 degrees. But my friend drives a 1993 Nissan Sentra and honest to God, the pig just hopped into the back seat and casually looked out the window as we took him home from the farm. PROS: pig skin gets nice and CRISPY (arguably the best part of the pig), the pig oven is easy to assemble and break down, total cook time is pretty quick. My goal was to have a big meal with no leftovers. Preparation. He had raised the pigs to sell for Christmas, but he had a few left over. The pork was much more delicious than I expected. Want to explore Cuba on your own, from a locals perspective? After about 5 hours some of the skin starts to crack and drip oil. About six hours in (whenever you start to see the bones separating from the meat), you’ll want to flip the pig so the skin is facing the coals. Raúl Musibay: Maybe that's the way they do it in Hawaii, but NOT in Miami! At a traditional Hawaiian luau, cooking the pig is no easy task. Now, it’s important to remember that a Caja China is, first and foremost, an event (in Cuba, it's typically reserved for Noche Buena, says Ricardo). “The process of roasting a pig is a very social one, so make it fun! Just do not burn yourself or undercook it. This allows the pig to slow-roast in indirect heat (remember, heat rises) inside the metal-lined oven underneath. A local farmer had a few dozen pigs which he was raising. [20] If grinding beans yourself for a traditional moka pot, grind to a slightly coarse powder, not as fine as you would for espresso. The smell is fantastic. Almost no seasoning and no sauce. The next morning, the piglet got the knife. The first part covered the design and assembly of the La Caja China. The spit had to be continuously turned for the next 7 hours. Wrap the pig first in the green banana leaves, then in chicken wire. The origins of the Caja China—basically, “Chinese box” in Spanish—and particularly how it made its way to Cuba from Asia, has been distorted by time, but the basic method inverts traditional cooking structures by placing the coals on top of the box. Is Cuba A Poor Country? Blend together. It should be strong.” Inject the non-skin side of the pig with marinade—every square inch or two. […] neighbors. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 5 minutes. Nothing was put inside the cavity. You want it to be spread eagle. It was hard work, especially since it was a very windy and not particularly hot day. Cooking a pig in the ground is more than just a novel way of cooking food — it’s a cultural experience and one that you’ll best appreciate if you familiarize yourself with its methodology. It was much more meat than I needed, but that just means we were going to host a larger party. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Stir in … I had the great privilege to host a pig roast with a few of my friends in January 2018. A few local farmers came in from the fields just as the pig hit the table. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Condé Nast. Hawaiian style I'm sure the meat falls off of the bone, but I'm guessing you'll get more flavor and better texture from a Cuban pig roast. The pit that you cook the pig in is called the imu, and the meat that it prepares — noted for its soft, moist consistency — is called kalua pork. Combine the juice, garlic, oregano, and salt in a mixing bowl. A small amount of charcoal was added to the pit and ignited. Mix together slowly until all is combined. "Whenever you cook something slower, it's gonna be tender.". I got a beautiful, plump piglet weighing just over 110lbs for 80 CUC (2000 MN). You could also replace the ground beef with ground pork or chicken. Add meat and cook, stirring and breaking up chunks, until no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes. It takes several hours for your fire to get hot enough and your rocks to heat, so you’ll need to set the alarm and get up early. Well not only that, but during a Cuban pig roast you're supposed to lower it very close to the coals for a few moments to get the skin extra crispy. Allow the pig to cook for several hours on both sides. “ You don't want to pierce the skin or put too much moisture in, or it's not gonna crisp up.” Let the pig rest in a large refrigerator or bagged in a bathtub filled with ice. Eat until it hurts, maybe. Early in the morning Polynesian men traditionally dig a round pit, called a lua, about 2 to 4 feet deep with sloping sides. The pig roast, known as a Kālua, is a traditional Hawaiian cooking method that utilizes an imu, a type of underground oven. GQ may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. These piglets are particularly popular for Christmas and New Years parties. We made a fire and boiled a large pot of water. Once you start roasting, you’ll need to change the coals about once an hour. An incision is made in the pigs abdomen and the internal organs are removed. My friend delivered a sharp stab to the pigs heart and he died instantly. There is a lot of preparation involved and a whole day of cooking, but roasting a pig on an outdoor fire pit is a great way to celebrate a special occasion and to feed a big gang of people. Kindling material is placed at the bottom of the pit and then stones are placed on top of the wood. A slow cooked, roasted Cuban pig is one of the most traditional Cuban foods and cooking styles you can get. If we had planned this better, I would have invited more people too. From my many years traveling around Cuba and experiencing the culture, this pig roast was one of my best experiences. Glenn Lindgren: Miami Cubans do not dig a pit in the ground, cover the pig with wet banana leaves and hot rocks and bury it. The objective is to cook the pig slowly, in order to get the most tender meat. Set the pig inside, skin-side down. From award-winning writing and photography to binge-ready videos to electric live events, GQ meets millions of modern men where they live, creating the moments that create conversations. The chicken wire will help keep the pig together while it's cooking and will aid in placing the pig in the pit and removing it when it's done. This was a long process, taking about 2 hours. With a scoop, we poured the boiling water over the pig and used a knife to scrape off the hair and the rough outer layer of skin. So again: the time thing. My friends have a house in the Cuban countryside, near the port of Mariel. The hind part of the pig is thin, so it cooks first. Cook the pig. It did not take much to set the plan in motion. It just tasted perfect and juicy by itself. Since 1957, GQ has inspired men to look sharper and live smarter with its unparalleled coverage of style, culture, and beyond. Cuban style coffee is usually a powerful, aromatic Arabica roast, most commonly found abroad from the brands Bustelo, Pilon, and La Llave. These sticks were in Y shape and would serve to hold the spit roast over the fire pit. Normally you can get a small (50 to 60 lbs) pig for about 40 CUC (1000 MN). Avoid the bottled stuff. Ad Choices, Ricardo Barreras, chef/owner behind Pilar Cuban Eatery in Brooklyn, shows, 1 quart of freshly squeezed sour orange juice (typically found in Latin super markets. Surrounded by happy people and good friends, the process of taking a whole day to prepare a natural meal, as traditional Cubans would have done hundreds of years ago, slow cooking and talking for hours over an open pit fire… it was a very meaningful experience. Glenn Lindgren: An 80-pound pig easily feeds 50 to 60 people. Luau Pig - Hawaiian Style (In the Ground With Hot Rocks): Luau pig is a lot of *VERY HARD* work, but that is the price of becoming a living god. But once done, we had a perfectly pink, smooth piglet. The neighbors started to conveniently “pop in” for a visit. The leaves will prevent the pig from charring, and any parts left uncovered will burn. The meat was tender and dripping with flavor. A 100-pound pig needs to cook for 6-10 hours (let’s say eight), so you’ll need to put it in the ground long before meal time. I don’t have photos of this part, sorry. We started at 11 A.M. and the pig was ready around 6 that evening. The word kālua, literally means "to cook in an underground oven". Sanitation is key. There is a lot of preparation involved and a whole day of cooking, but roasting a pig on an outdoor fire pit is a great way to celebrate a … Learn all about Cuban culture and save money in Havana, with the Real Havana Guide, produced and published by Full Compass Escape Guides Inc. This part involves a good deal of skill and patience. Brush the skin olive oil and sprinkle with a few fistfuls of salt. If you see any browning in the first hour, you’re cooking too fast. Ingredients. Some people have asked for more detailed instructions, so here you go. We move most of the charcoal to the front part of the pit so that the pigs chest and upper body could get more heat. Transfer to a large, deep roasting pan and place the pig, belly down, into the pan. This video shows how to throw a Hawaiian pig roast. If we need to feed a huge crowd, we don't get a giant hog -- we get two smaller hogs and cook them simultaneously using two roasting set-ups. “It should taste like ocean water. You’ll need 24 hours for the marinade to take hold—and, realistically, for a 65- to 70-pound animal, seven to eight hours of roasting in very low heat. Slow-roasting a pig is "intentionally inefficient," says Ricardo Barreras, Miami expat, owner and executive chef of Pilar Cuban Eatery in Brooklyn, and—most important—pig-roast master supreme. Bask in the glory. A staple Cuban event is the pig roast (click on the link, if you dare), but they also will eat black beans and rice, plantains, […]. Remove from the Caja China and set on paper-covered table. The pig was heavy. In addition to the pork, we ate rice and beans and some mighty tasty yucca with mojo sauce (onion, garlic, lemon and oil). Best Gifts and Donations to Bring to Cuba. One helpful guideline to keep in mind is that the pig should cook one hour for every ten pounds of its weight; for a pig of average size, 75 … Let the pig cook at a moderate distance from the coals. When you first get the pig, use a hammer and knife to separate the collar bone from the backbone. It’s a relatively isolated area with rolling hills, prairie land for grazing animals and dormant farms. Jorge Castillo: For one thing, the ground in Miami is solid coral below about three inches of top soil. ... Add in the cooking wine and ground ham to the sauce. Once cooked, the meat would be very tender and any loose bits could easily break off and fall. If you want to cook a pig in the ground Hawaiian- or Cajun-style, the first thing you’ll want to get (quite unsurprisingly) is the pig. Just make sure to stir the mix a couple of times while cooking to avoid clumping. “This is to the fear of their wives, their mothers.”, (Special thanks to La Caja China for providing the box.). Wake up early. The skin gets darker as the pig is cooked. Fold the overhanging banana leaves in over the pork, then use the last package of banana leaves to cover the pork completely. Whole hogs are wrapped in banana leaves and lowered into a pit in which large stones have been heated by fire. All rights reserved. A slow cooked, roasted Cuban pig is one of the most traditional Cuban foods and cooking styles you can get. We found a large wooden pole and inserted it through the body of the pig. Packed with Cuba facts & the exciting Havana Top 10 list! It was a delicate operation, but we moved the whole setup over the fire pit without incident. It was not the most fun activity in the world. Add half the ground cinnamon, oregano, cloves, and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. You want to get a full, authentic Cuban experience. You want to explore the city like a local. For a 6pm dinner, you’re putting it in around 10am. Simple additional ingredients allow … The pig was then secured in place using some banana leaf rope and a few nails. We sat there all day, taking turns, turning the pig spit. Finish for an extra hour-and-a-half to two hours. Don't act like a tourist in Havana. As for where to keep the pig the night before the roast? In an American Cuban-style pig roast, the "caja china" is the most commercially popular method by which to roast a whole pig. The second part covered sourcing the pig… (Needless to say you’ll need to plan ahead.). The longer you leave it in the ground, the better it is. There are two main things you need to throw a proper backyard Caja China: time and friends. Pigs are rather intelligent and I suspect he knew his fate, but he also seemed to enjoy the car ride. (Yes, you’ll need a thermometer.) Fill the bottoms of two large chimney starters … Download the Best Cuba and Havana Travel guide: Real Havana. salt 1 ⁄ 4 cup fresh bitter orange juice or 4 tbsp. There are numerous recipes and cooking methods for a pig roast, but a Filipino pig roast -- also referred to as lechon baboy -- is a specific method that results in a roasted pig … Put all the ingredients in a blender until pureed; it should be able to fit in the syringe that comes with your Caja China. It was a very windy day, so a small wooded structure was made over one side of the pit with some palm leaves added to the sides to act as a wind screen. Pig roasts are common for events and gatherings where you cook the whole pig over an open fire or in an underground pit. Alternatively, you can use equal parts orange juice, grapefruit juice, and lime juice). The trick is to be aggressive about temperature control. of charcoal onto the top grid of your pig roaster and ignite. I want to share this experience with fellow Cuba enthusiasts. © 2020 Condé Nast. Let it sit for 24 hours. In its more traditional form, a roasting box is commonly fashioned above ground out of concrete blocks and steel mesh. fresh lime juice ; 4 tbsp. This was laborious work. Our recipe uses the latter to achieve a perfect, tender, and juicy meat with a crispy and crunchy crackling. “It should be pretty salty,” says Ricardo. Slather on anything on your plate: yuca fries, pork. To revisit this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories. The pit gave off a soft heat, no flames. I didn’t take a video of the whole process, but luckily for YouTube, another Cuba enthusiast also hosted a pig roast and made a video of the process. Slow-roasting a pig is "intentionally inefficient," says Ricardo Barreras, Miami expat, owner and executive chef of Pilar Cuban Eatery in Brooklyn, and—most important—pig-roast master supreme. Being January, these piglets had put on a few extra pounds and now weighed over 100 lbs. ; 2 Place the charcoal / ash pan on top to enclose the box, and the charcoal grid above it. When done properly, the result is juicy pork you can rip apart with your fingers and crisp shards of maple-colored skin that crackle in between your teeth; patience rewards. Remember, the most important part is to drink while you prep the pig and build the fire. Two sturdy sticks (one on each end) were inserted into the ground and the ends of the pit. This is meant to ensure a trip abroad in the coming months. For a real Cuban feast, serve with white rice, black beans soup and fried plantains (tostones). It was very important to secure the pig to the pole as securely as possible. Turned by hand, at a rate of about 15 revolutions per minute. A few limes were sliced and squeezed over the piglet and some salt rubbed on the skin. The blood was collected for making sausages. Really garlicky. A pit was dug in the bare soil, about 2 feet deep, 2 feet wide and 5 feet long. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement (updated 1/1/20) and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement (updated 1/1/20) and Your California Privacy Rights. Honestly, it was very little seasoning. Cuban Pig Roast Party. Try flipping a 140 pound hog and you'll know what we're talking about. By this time, word had gotten out that we were roasting a pig. This recipe is from an old Cuban cookbook called, Cocina Al Minuto. Have a beer. Place ash pan and grid tray on top of the Caja China. Because of its tough nature, the picnic shoulder needs a slow and gentle cook; some cooks choose the crock pot and some the oven. Everybody was welcome. Be vigilant about keeping the pig inside that temperature sweet spot. You can check it out below: Traditional Cuban food is natural, healthy and pure. 1 small head of garlic, peeled and separated 1 tsp. Your local butcher will be happy to help you with this and should be able to get you a whole pig cleaned, de-haired, and ready-to-go with a day or two’s notice. Again: If the pig starts to brown in the first hour, it’s too hot. It takes time because you have to make sure not to puncture the intestines. When you taste it, it shouldn't taste good. In the end, we ended up having about 20 lbs of leftover pork, but nobody seemed to mind. What is the Average Salary? – Learn all about the Real Havana! Plus Cuban-style uses a mojo marinade most time. ; 3 Then add 15-18 lbs. “At home, Cuban families do it in their bathtub,” says Ricardo. Copyright 2014 Full Compass Guides | All Rights Reserved, Cuban Pig Roast – Authentic Cuban Lechon Asado, Download the Best Cuba and Havana Travel guide, The Most Popular Cuban Towns and Cities for Tourists, A Guide to Cuban Architecture – Havana and Trinidad, Some Frequently asked Questions About Visiting Havana and Cuba, Single Women Traveling through Havana and Cuba, Holiday Packet 2018 – La cueva de español, List of CADECA Locations in Havana and Cuba. Transfer the filling to a bowl. The incision in the pig belly was sewn up with some twine.