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Hi Mr. McGee

I am so delighted to get the chance to ask you this question. We have been roasting whole pigs in a Caja China (a metal enclosed box in which the marinated pig lies at the bottom topped by a tray of glowing coals, for several hours). We have had delicious moist meat but have had no success in getting a crisp skin. In fact the skin was quite leathery. The pigs were small (25-30 lbs) and very lean. Yet in Europe we have had much smaller pigs with deliciously crisp skin. Do we have to look for a fatty pig or do you think there is any other way to get the result we are hoping for, perhaps an additional ingredient in the marinade for basting.

Ruth Friedman

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You get leathery skin when not enough of the skin’s collagen is dissolved into gelatin, and when the skin doesn’t get a chance to dry out completely. My guess is that you might want to increase the cooking temperature or time or both. And is the box vented at all? If it retains the pig’s moisture, the skin can’t crisp.

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