Cajun microwaves are wood- or charcoal-heated cypress roasting boxes used to cook meats, vegetables and other foods. Cajun roasting yields excellent flavor and is especially renowned for cooking meats. As with any slow-roasting method, you'll be in for some down time, which makes the Cajun microwave ideal for cookouts and other get-togethers.
Place food inside the box. Cajun microwave boxes typically contain a grate inside the box, mounted approximately one inch from the bottom. Add any oils and seasonings to the food at this point; once you begin cooking, you'll want to keep the box closed to maximize the heat produced inside the box. Place meat or vegetables directly onto the grate.
Depending upon the size of the box, you can roast chickens, turkeys, lamb, beef, various vegetables and even entire pigs. You may opt to add wood chips inside the box to lend a woodsmoke flavor to the food.
Prepare the grease trap. Grease will drip from the food into the bottom of the box; to ease cleanup, you may choose to line the bottom of the box with aluminum foil. The box is designed to drain grease out one end through two holes in the bottom; place a pan or other container under the drain to catch the grease.
Heat the oven. Some Cajun microwaves are designed to heat food from the top; thus, the wood or charcoal is placed on top of the lid or inside the box on top of a rack positioned over the food, then ignited. Others heat from charcoal or wood stoked below the food. Place the fuel source in the appropriate location for your particular box. Most Cajun microwaves heat from below.
Cooking temperatures should range from 225 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. The intense heat contained inside the box should produce very crispy skin and juicy meat.
Allow the food to cook. The quantity and type of food will determine the cooking time. Roasting an entire pig at 225 degrees Fahrenheit, for instance, can take as long as six hours. Consult your recipe to determine the range of cooking times.
Before removing food from the heat, test any meats with a thermometer to make sure they are cooked thoroughly and to the proper temperature. Remove using tongs, a meat fork or other appropriate utensils.
After the box and grates have cooled down, wash them with hot soapy water. Once they are dry, rub them with cooking oil after each use and store the entire microwave box in a dry place.
- Prepare meats using plenty of salt for large cuts. Marinades can inject superb flavor into roasted foods. A wide array of appropriate recipes are available online.
Annie Lee Tatum has been a freelance writer since 2008. Her poetry and articles have appeared in "Ace Weekly," "Kudzu" and various other publications. Tatum received her Bachelor of Arts from Eastern Kentucky University in 2002 and her Master of Arts from the University of Louisville in 2008. Interests include anthropology and cooking.