Easy smoking in La Caja China – A-MAZE-N-PELLET-SMOKER review.


Every once in a great while you come across a cooking/bbq add-on that is everything a good accessory should be…simple to use (read: idiot proof) and simple to maintain, making the job at hand less (not more) complicated. Something that’s 100% effective.

Something that truly lives up to its own marketing hype.

This weekend I found just such a product – the “New” A-MAZE-N-PELLET-SMOKER (AMNPS) by A-MAZE-N-PRODUCTS.

First, a little background…

I already own two models of “smoke units” for my various smokers, grills, and La Caja Chinas.

Each is basically effective, in that it imparts a good smoke flavor to the meat that’s cooking. The first is attractively priced at around $50, but very complicated to use, has a major learning curve, and requires the use a proprietary pellet “cartridge” to use. The second is less complicated, allows for non-proprietary pellets/chips, but is 8X more expensive as the first.

Both require an electrical plug in.

Now, I can complicate a whole pig roast (see my step-by-step video) with just a pig and fire…without tossing in a, sometimes moody, smoke gadget. When it comes to bbq, I’m definitely more Fred Flintstone than James Bond. I want something that’s a no brainer, I want it to be something I don’t have to make a special plan for (I do a lot of cooking in campgrounds, in the mountains, and at the beach, where electricity can be problematic), and I don’t want to spend an arm and a leg to get it.

Finally…I’ve found something that fits all of my requirements, and requires no “Mods” or drilling of holes in my La Caja China.

The AMNPS is a light weight, durable and portable smoke generator designed to burn pellets or sawdust. The new AMNPS will produce smoke during cold smoking and hot smoking, tested up to 275°. They are versatile enough to be used in just about any smoker or a grill.

At less than fifty-bucks, with no moving parts, no electricity required, and no “special needs”, the AMNPS is built to perform flawlessly for the biggest idiot around…and this weekend it did just that in my La Caja China Semi Pro, at our annual church camp-out and pig roast!

I left the two end rails off my La Caja China for airflow (this creates a ¼ inch gap at either end) and set the smoker on a small piece of foil, directly on top of, and centered on, the pig rack. I used a mix of apple and alder wood pellets, filling the channels of the AMNPS about 2/3 of the way up…lit the pellets with a torch, though a small hole in the end of the smoker, and closed up the La Caja China.  That’s it!

Literally, if you can open a bag of pellets, and light a propane torch…you have mastered all of the skills required to use the A-MAZE-N-PELLET-SMOKER.

Note: It took me a while but the “MAZE” in “A-MAZE-N”…it’s a maze…get it? I told you it was idiot proof!

So, my only concern was that the heat from the underside of La Caja China’s coal pan would be intense enough to get all of the pellets smoking at one time, which would defeat the purpose of a long, slow smoke. My worry was for naught…I peeked at around 2.5 hours (I know, I know, I always say “no peeking” but these were special circumstances!) and the AMNPS had run about ½ the course. I checked again at 5.5 hours and it had burned to the end.

So it works…you don’t have to peek for yourself. Rule #1 – No Peeking!

The mix of pellets gave a perfect subtly sweet/smoky flavor to our 85lb pig, creating a beautiful 1/2 to 3/4 inch “smoke ring” on the shoulders and hams. In fact, my pastor, who’s also a foodie and bbq junkie, took one look at the pellet smoker, and spent the rest of the weekend trying to talk me out of it!

I doubt I’ll ever use either of my other “smoke units” again…I’m totally sold out on the AMNPS. I’ll be updating the “smoking” recommendations in all of our cookbooks in the next few weeks, to recommend this pellet smoker…that’s how serious I am about it.

If you have a La Caja China, another brand of pig roasting box, or any smoker or grill that requires a smoking accessory, you need an A-MAZE-N-PELLET-SMOKER.

Tell ‘em Perry sent you!

Okay, I gotta go eat some leftover pig now.

Happy Q’ing!

-Perry

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23 Comments

Filed under Hardware, In The Box, Reviews

23 responses to “Easy smoking in La Caja China – A-MAZE-N-PELLET-SMOKER review.

  1. Brian Hall

    Perry YOU are my hero! Can’t wait to pick one of these up!
    I am confused though by the “leaving the two end rails up”…since I just got my caja china I’m a bit lost as to what you are referring to. Maybe there are others who are also lost. can you explain :)

    Thanks!

    Brian Hall

  2. Brian, no worries! Two things…

    First, you want to leave the two end rails “off”, and I’m talking about the metal “lips” that slip over the short ends of the box and create the “shelf” that the ash pan sits on. (This piece – http://www.roastingbox.com/p-79-short-aluminum-frame-model-1-2.aspx) If you remove those, it leaves a 1/4 inch gap at each end, which will create enough airflow through the box to let the smoker breath.

    Second – YOU JUST POSTED THE 1000th COMMENT ON MY BLOG! Pick any one of the three cookbooks, and it’s on its way dude! Thanks for hangin’ out with us!

  3. I’ll have to look at the box when I get home! :)
    So essentially unscrew it to remove it and set it aside – what does this do to the temperature of the box when cooking? say for example doing a whole hog, do you have to cook for longer? :) You know I will be picking your brains till the hogs come home!

  4. Oh and I’m tempted to get your new book but since I’m new to the Caja China world I’m thinking maybe the first instead to start with! Thank you very much, very generous of you sir!

  5. Nothing to unscrew, the rails just sit in place, so all you need to do is lift the two end ones off. Comparing the pigs I’ve cooked, with and without removing the rails, there’s no discernible difference in cook time.

    RE: The cookbook – Good choice! Shoot me an email at editor@elkmountainbooks.com and tell me where I’m shipping it.

  6. Curious if you can smoke homemade sausages in the Caja using this thing? Anyone have any experience with this? How would you do it, how much charcoal?

  7. Pingback: Want to turn your La Caja China into an Uber-Smoker?…For free? | Burnin' Love

  8. John Hart

    Well I’m sold. Thanks for the review and information. Can’t wait to try it out, but I might wait until April. I’ll make this a birthday gift request. Finally I concur with Brian’s cook book choice. Great book that compliments a great grill.

  9. Anonymous

    if you take off the rails does it make cooing time longer

  10. steve

    taking off rail does make cooking time longer

  11. Yes, as you’ll see in the post above, I roasted the pig for around 6 hours, instead of the typical 4-4.5, but part of this is also due to the fact that I like my pig at the “pickin’ stage” of around 200 degrees.

  12. steve

    do you put foil over your pig ,chickens, or anyother things you coook in the box

  13. craig

    I love my amaze n smoker and I am going to buy a caja china soon to do some catering this summer. I am so glad I found this blog because I was trying to figure out whether or not it would breathe. I have the big amaze n smoker. Can I use the pellets in that one? I will wait on your reply and try to get a hold of todd at amaze n products. he’s pretty good at replying. Thank you so much. One more question, how many slabs of ribs do you think you can do when using rib racks?

    • Craig,

      I’ll see if I can get Todd over here on that one, I haven’t used it. As far as ribs, which La Caja China are you getting?

      Thanks!

      -Perry

      • Anonymous

        The A-MAZE-N-SMOKER was designed for burning sawdust, and pellets do not work very well

        Ribs in the La Caja China sound very interesting!!

        Todd

      • Thank you for your comment, Todd, but I beg to differ. I use it with pellets all the time, in several models of La Caja China, and I get fantastic results. It’s all about the proper placement and airflow.

        -Chef Perry

  14. The A-MAZE-N-SMOKER was designed for burning sawdust, not pellets.
    Using the LaCaja China for ribs sounds very interesting!!

    Todd

  15. Pingback: Masters of the Pit: Perry Perkins | Grilling.com

  16. Lazaro

    Can you post a time table for a 100 pound hog. How much charcoal and how long this seems like a great product to use with my caja china. By the way awesome blog I just found it and I will be a regular

  17. Mark

    Hi, I have a La Caja Asadora and a AMPTS. If I remove both end rails, I see 1/2 inch on each side. It looks iike I will loose a lot of heat. 1) Has anyone tried to leave AMPTS in a La Caja without taking off rails/does it choke off the smoker 2) I wonder if leaving the rails and placing the lid on some washers or other metal spacers will allow a smaller gap and give the option to close the lid if heat loss is too much?

  18. Pingback: Masters of the Pit: Perry Perkins | Grilling.com

  19. Pingback: La Caja China – Questions before you buy | Burnin' Love BBQ

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