When you haven’t had any experience using a Caja China style roasting box it can be confusing trying to figure out the best way to distribute the coals to make sure they produce the right amount of heat. What you might not know is that there are different fire zones that are used for different types of grilling. Here are a few tips from La Caja China Cooking: The secret to perfect roasting by Perry P. Perkins that can help describe what each fire zone is best used for and how these zones can be created.
Spread the coals in an even layer across the charcoal grid.
This is the best method to use when roasting meats inside La Caja China, as it provides an even heat to the interior of the box.
For grilling, you would use a single-zone fire for steaks, chicken breasts, or any food that requires a short, hot cooking time. Only used a single-zone fire if all the meat will finish and be served at the same time.
Even when grilling the types of meat mentioned above, you can still keep a small “cool zone” at one end of the grill so you can move meat away from flare-ups, melt cheese onto my burgers, etc.
A two-zone fire is created when your lit coals are spread over one-half to two thirds of the grilling area.
This is ideal for most types of grilling, especially those foods that need to be seared on the outside, and cooked more slowly on the inside (steaks, spatchcocked chickens, pork tenderloins, ect.)
As mentioned, one benefit of a two-zone fire, when cooking for a crowd, is that you have a “warming area” for foods that are done, or nearly done, to stay warm while another batch is cooking.
If you’re grilling at the same time you have meat cooking inside La Caja China, I suggest creating the cool zone in the center of the charcoal grid, with the majority of the burning coals to the right and left.
This allows a more even cooking temperature within the box.
A two-zone fire is preferable, over a three zone, for the smaller surface area of La Caja China (Box #3).
Your best heat control is achieved with a three zone fire, consisting of a hot zone, medium zone, and cool zone.
On the charcoal grid, rake half the coals into a double layer over one third of the fire box, and the rest into a single layer in the center. Leave the remaining third of the grid without coals.
Use the hot zone for searing, the medium zone for finishing, and the cool zone for keeping food warm until serving.
We hope this was helpful! Feel free to send us pictures or messages including your memorable roasting experiences. For more information please contact us at 888-272-7629.
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