It was much more meat than I needed, but that just means we were going to host a larger party. Best Gifts and Donations to Bring to Cuba. A few limes were sliced and squeezed over the piglet and some salt rubbed on the skin. (Yes, you’ll need a thermometer.) 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. This allows the pig to slow-roast in indirect heat (remember, heat rises) inside the metal-lined oven underneath. We found a large wooden pole and inserted it through the body of the pig. “This is to the fear of their wives, their mothers.”, (Special thanks to La Caja China for providing the box.). The pork was much more delicious than I expected. To revisit this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories. Don't act like a tourist in Havana. Nothing was put inside the cavity. I want to share this experience with fellow Cuba enthusiasts. Transfer the filling to a bowl. Have a beer. 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 … When you first get the pig, use a hammer and knife to separate the collar bone from the backbone. A pit was dug in the bare soil, about 2 feet deep, 2 feet wide and 5 feet long. Learn all about Cuban culture and save money in Havana, with the Real Havana Guide, produced and published by Full Compass Escape Guides Inc. They offered their location to host a pig roast, and I offered to buy the pig. of charcoal onto the top grid of your pig roaster and ignite. Wrap the pig first in the green banana leaves, then in chicken wire. Simple additional ingredients allow … Again: If the pig starts to brown in the first hour, it’s too hot. The pig roast, known as a Kālua, is a traditional Hawaiian cooking method that utilizes an imu, a type of underground oven. Transfer to a large, deep roasting pan and place the pig, belly down, into the pan. 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. You earned this. Combine the juice, garlic, oregano, and salt in a mixing bowl. Brush the skin olive oil and sprinkle with a few fistfuls of salt. Once you start roasting, you’ll need to change the coals about once an hour. The blood was collected for making sausages. The objective is to cook the pig slowly, in order to get the most tender meat. An incision is made in the pigs abdomen and the internal organs are removed. A few local farmers came in from the fields just as the pig hit the table. Plus Cuban-style uses a mojo marinade most time. In an American Cuban-style pig roast, the "caja china" is the most commercially popular method by which to roast a whole pig. In its more traditional form, a roasting box is commonly fashioned above ground out of concrete blocks and steel mesh. My friends have a house in the Cuban countryside, near the port of Mariel. If we had planned this better, I would have invited more people too. A local farmer had a few dozen pigs which he was raising. Download the Best Cuba and Havana Travel guide: Real Havana. The skin gets darker as the pig is cooked. From my many years traveling around Cuba and experiencing the culture, this pig roast was one of my best experiences. Be vigilant about keeping the pig inside that temperature sweet spot. 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). Wake up early. Stir in … Bask in the glory. 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. Because of its tough nature, the picnic shoulder needs a slow and gentle cook; some cooks choose the crock pot and some the oven. Add half the ground cinnamon, oregano, cloves, and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Almost no seasoning and no sauce. 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. A slow cooked, roasted Cuban pig is one of the most traditional Cuban foods and cooking styles you can get. You want it to be spread eagle. Mix together slowly until all is combined. The incision in the pig belly was sewn up with some twine. The longer you leave it in the ground, the better it is. This video shows how to throw a Hawaiian pig roast. 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. I had the great privilege to host a pig roast with a few of my friends in January 2018. 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. Let it sit for 24 hours. 1 The first step is to place the hog ribs up between the two interior racks and secure with the “s” hooks. But once done, we had a perfectly pink, smooth piglet. 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. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Condé Nast. Whole hogs are wrapped in banana leaves and lowered into a pit in which large stones have been heated by fire. You’ll need to remove some coals and cover the burning areas of the pig with foil. Early in the morning Polynesian men traditionally dig a round pit, called a lua, about 2 to 4 feet deep with sloping sides. He had raised the pigs to sell for Christmas, but he had a few left over. Set the pig inside, skin-side down. 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. Pigs are rather intelligent and I suspect he knew his fate, but he also seemed to enjoy the car ride. Really garlicky. 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. All rights reserved. Try flipping a 140 pound hog and you'll know what we're talking about. The meat was tender and dripping with flavor. The spit had to be continuously turned for the next 7 hours. (Needless to say you’ll need to plan ahead.). 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 … It takes time because you have to make sure not to puncture the intestines. I don’t have photos of this part, sorry. In the end, we ended up having about 20 lbs of leftover pork, but nobody seemed to mind. A small amount of charcoal was added to the pit and ignited. ; 3 Then add 15-18 lbs. We made a fire and boiled a large pot of water. For a 6pm dinner, you’re putting it in around 10am. ... Add in the cooking wine and ground ham to the sauce. The first part covered the design and assembly of the La Caja China. The smell is fantastic. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. The pig was heavy. Cook the pig. Everybody was welcome. fresh lime juice ; 4 tbsp. Kindling material is placed at the bottom of the pit and then stones are placed on top of the wood. [20] At a traditional Hawaiian luau, cooking the pig is no easy task. In addition to the pork, we ate rice and beans and some mighty tasty yucca with mojo sauce (onion, garlic, lemon and oil). A classic for sure. The pit gave off a soft heat, no flames. The trick is to be aggressive about temperature control. My goal was to have a big meal with no leftovers. 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. My friend delivered a sharp stab to the pigs heart and he died instantly. Place ash pan and grid tray on top of the Caja China. Preparation. Fold the overhanging banana leaves in over the pork, then use the last package of banana leaves to cover the pork completely. We added more charcoal every 20 minutes or so. This recipe is from an old Cuban cookbook called, Cocina Al Minuto. So again: the time thing. It was not the most fun activity in the world. 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. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 5 minutes. 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 do not burn yourself or undercook it. "Whenever you cook something slower, it's gonna be tender.". The next morning, the piglet got the knife. After about 5 hours some of the skin starts to crack and drip oil. Cuban Pig Roast Party. It’s a relatively isolated area with rolling hills, prairie land for grazing animals and dormant farms. These sticks were in Y shape and would serve to hold the spit roast over the fire pit. It was hard work, especially since it was a very windy and not particularly hot day. 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. Ingredients. Avoid the bottled stuff. This was a long process, taking about 2 hours. Alternatively, you can use equal parts orange juice, grapefruit juice, and lime juice). 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. Cuban style coffee is usually a powerful, aromatic Arabica roast, most commonly found abroad from the brands Bustelo, Pilon, and La Llave. Packed with Cuba facts & the exciting Havana Top 10 list! 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. GQ may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. 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… It should be strong.” Inject the non-skin side of the pig with marinade—every square inch or two. The hind part of the pig is thin, so it cooks first. It just tasted perfect and juicy by itself. 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. Once cooked, the meat would be very tender and any loose bits could easily break off and fall. Put all the ingredients in a blender until pureed; it should be able to fit in the syringe that comes with your Caja China. 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. 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. As for where to keep the pig the night before the roast? Add meat and cook, stirring and breaking up chunks, until no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes. Allow the pig to cook for several hours on both sides. Glenn Lindgren: An 80-pound pig easily feeds 50 to 60 people. The neighbors started to conveniently “pop in” for a visit. There are two main things you need to throw a proper backyard Caja China: time and friends. Two sturdy sticks (one on each end) were inserted into the ground and the ends of the pit. Being January, these piglets had put on a few extra pounds and now weighed over 100 lbs. Finish for an extra hour-and-a-half to two hours. “The process of roasting a pig is a very social one, so make it fun! 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. What is the Average Salary? “ 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. 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. ; 2 Place the charcoal / ash pan on top to enclose the box, and the charcoal grid above it. Sanitation is key. salt 1 ⁄ 4 cup fresh bitter orange juice or 4 tbsp. 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. 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. Jorge Castillo: For one thing, the ground in Miami is solid coral below about three inches of top soil. 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 … 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. “At home, Cuban families do it in their bathtub,” says Ricardo. © 2020 Condé Nast. 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. [1] It was a delicate operation, but we moved the whole setup over the fire pit without incident. 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. A slow cooked, roasted Cuban pig is one of the most traditional Cuban foods and cooking styles you can get. If you see any browning in the first hour, you’re cooking too fast. The leaves will prevent the pig from charring, and any parts left uncovered will burn. 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. By this time, word had gotten out that we were roasting a pig. Raúl Musibay: Maybe that's the way they do it in Hawaii, but NOT in Miami! […] neighbors. 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. Fill the bottoms of two large chimney starters … It was very important to secure the pig to the pole as securely as possible. “It should be pretty salty,” says Ricardo. Honestly, it was very little seasoning. 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. This was laborious work. Pig roasts are common for events and gatherings where you cook the whole pig over an open fire or in an underground pit. 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. Eat until it hurts, maybe. Since 1957, GQ has inspired men to look sharper and live smarter with its unparalleled coverage of style, culture, and beyond. 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, […]. Turned by hand, at a rate of about 15 revolutions per minute. The word kālua, literally means "to cook in an underground oven". If grinding beans yourself for a traditional moka pot, grind to a slightly coarse powder, not as fine as you would for espresso. 1 small head of garlic, peeled and separated 1 tsp. “It should taste like ocean water. Want to explore Cuba on your own, from a locals perspective? It did not take much to set the plan in motion. Blend together. Remember, the most important part is to drink while you prep the pig and build the fire. You want to get a full, authentic Cuban experience. Remove from the Caja China and set on paper-covered table. Our recipe uses the latter to achieve a perfect, tender, and juicy meat with a crispy and crunchy crackling. You can check it out below: Traditional Cuban food is natural, healthy and pure. These piglets are particularly popular for Christmas and New Years parties. Normally you can get a small (50 to 60 lbs) pig for about 40 CUC (1000 MN). Is Cuba A Poor Country? Just make sure to stir the mix a couple of times while cooking to avoid clumping. You want to explore the city like a local. Some people have asked for more detailed instructions, so here you go. This part involves a good deal of skill and patience. You could also replace the ground beef with ground pork or chicken. When you taste it, it shouldn't taste good. Now you can! I got a beautiful, plump piglet weighing just over 110lbs for 80 CUC (2000 MN). This is meant to ensure a trip abroad in the coming months. The second part covered sourcing the pig… Add pork and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until it browns, 8-10 minutes. 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. The pig was then secured in place using some banana leaf rope and a few nails. 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. We started at 11 A.M. and the pig was ready around 6 that evening. Slather on anything on your plate: yuca fries, pork. We sat there all day, taking turns, turning the pig spit. For a real Cuban feast, serve with white rice, black beans soup and fried plantains (tostones). Let the pig cook at a moderate distance from the coals. 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. – Learn all about the Real Havana!