Words and Photos by M.L. Huisman —
On Friday, Dec. 20, my friends Ian Buchanan and Ryan Reid roasted an 80-pound pig. It was their third time roasting a whole pig but their first using the caja china method, an aboveground roasting box. Ian and Ryan engineered a box out of cinder blocks, lined it with aluminum foil and capped the structure with an ⅛-inch steel sheet.
The day before Ian and I picked up the pig from a butcher near Manchaca, Texas. Back at Ft. Lott, the pig was rinsed, dried and had its spine split to allow it to be placed on a rack. It was then injected with mojo a mixture of cumin, oregano and other spices with orange and lemon juice. The liquid flavor is injected on the meat side so as not to pierce the skin.
On Friday afternoon, the pig was put on a rack built with 2x4s and chicken wire. A fire built on the metal roof serves as the heat source for the caja china. After five hours Ryan and Ian flipped the pig, scored the skin and cooked it an additional hour and a half. Once free from the rack, it didn’t take long for the hungry crowd to descend on the pig.