Everything But the Oink
By Paul Lukas

(MONEY Magazine) – Burgers and steaks are fine, but for the ultimate cookout, try roasting a whole pig. This was once beyond the reach of the average backyard chef, because it took all day and required a deep pit or a large spit. But thanks to a clever product called the Caja China ($250; lacajachina.com; 800-338-1323), you can roast a 70-pound pig in 3 1/2 hours, which is exactly what I did on a recent Saturday afternoon. The results were spectacular.

Essentially a roasting box on wheels, the Caja China (ka-ha chee-nah) has a recessed lid that serves as a charcoal tray. The heat from the coals radiates through the box's metal interior panels, cooking the hog--or the lamb, or turkeys, or whatever--very efficiently. Since the coals are outside and the meat is inside, the food doesn't pick up any charcoal flavor, but you can put wood chips into the box for smokiness and provide additional flavor by injecting the pig with a marinade before cooking.

The Caja China has been popular for years among Miami's Cuban community (similar devices are sometimes called "Cajun microwaves" elsewhere in the South) but is just now drawing notice from food journalists. If the succulent, bronze-skinned pig I cooked is any indication, it will be attracting more well-deserved attention in the months to come. --P.L.