For years this was requested by my friends and co-workers every time we had a potluck get together. Little did they know, it is easily one of the cheapest and easiest main dishes to bring! Kalua pig is a dish that is synonymous with Hawaii! Traditionally in Hawaii (and at any Luau that you go to on the island), people will dig a hole in the ground which is called an imu. This basically serves as an underground oven that is lined with fragrant woods, stones, and banana leaves that steam that cook the entire pig. Please see my lovely models below as they lift the pig out of the imu.
The pork is then so tender and juicy the meat basically falls apart as your pick it up with your fork. While I have been lucky enough to participate a couple times in the imu process, most of us don’t have time to dig a large hole in our back yard or time to catch a pig (or have any desire to). So today we are going to make this in our crockpot. Non crockpot owners – I think you can also adapt this to the oven. Wait- but since this series of post is all about Hawaii thought I would leave you with a few pics of some of my favorite places on the island! (Makapu’u, Portlock, Haunama Bay, Waikiki at the Moana)
Crockpot Kalua Pig
1 pork butt or shoulder (3-5lbs)
1 1/2 Tbsp Hawaiian Salt (or any type of rock salt)
1 Tbsp liquid smoke
1. Pierce pork with a knife several times. Rub salt and liquid smoke all over the pork and place in the crockpot. *Please resist the urge to trim the fat, the fat turns to liquid and is what cooks the meat. If you are an oven user, at this point you would cut the pork into several pieces to fit into your baking dish (if needed), season with salt and liquid smoke and wrap them tightly in foil*
2. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-6 hours. *If you are an oven user, place your tightly wrapped pork pieces in a roasting dish and add 1/3 inch of water to the pan. Cover pan with foil and seal well and create a little tent at the top. Place into the oven at 325 degrees for 4 –5 hours depending on the size of your pork butt.*
3. Remove meat from crockpot (or oven) and shred. Reserve some of the cooking liquid and add to meat to moisten. Season with additional salt if needed.
Serve with hot rice and Lomi Lomi Tomato. An alternate serving is to quickly sautee some cabbage until it is soft with the kaula pork and also serve with rice, I did it with some spinach since that’s what I had on hand. Or my bosses favorite, just serve it sandwich style in some King’s Hawaiian sweet bread rolls!
One of the great things about Kalua pig is that it freezes extremely well and is a great thing to have on hand in your fridge. Over the years my friends and I have found many uses for the leftovers. Next post I’ll show you a truly “Hawaiian” pizza that you can make with it!