Friday, April 12, 2013

Kalua Pork in the Slow Cooker

Happy Aloha Friday!

If you’ve ever been to a Hawaiian luau... chances are you have had Kalua pig!  Kalua is a traditional Hawaiian cooking method that utilizes a type of underground oven, called an imu.  The word kalua, which literally means "to cook in an underground oven", is also used to describe the food cooked in this manner... like kalua pig or kalua turkey which are both commonly served at luau feasts!

How the underground oven works:
Traditionally, a fire using koa wood is built in a sand or dirt pit called the imu. The pit is usually about 6 feet  long, 4 feet wide and 3 ft deep.  Rocks are then placed in the pit to retain cooking heat long after the flames have burned down.  Once the rocks have become extremely hot, the hole is lined with traditional vegetation, such as banana leaves.  The meat to be cooked is salted, rubbed with herbs, stuffed with more hot rocks, then wrapped with ti and banana leaves.  To maintain even heating and to retain the meat's natural moisture, the meat is covered with wet burlap, then with a layer of sand or soil.  The meat is then left to cook in the pit for six to seven hours, absorbing smoke and steam from the koa wood and banana leaves.  When the meat is fully cooked, it is removed from the imu and shredded.

The term "Kalua pork" has been used by famous Hawaiian cook Sam Choy to describe pork shoulder butt which is rubbed with sea salt, wrapped in ti leaves, and slowly cooked in oven using liquid mesquite smoke rather than an imu.

Bottom line... You don't need a whole pig or a pit in your backyard to bring the traditional flavors of Hawaii to your table!  All you’ll need is a 6 lb. pork butt, liquid smoke, Hawaiian sea salt, and a slow cooker.  This is the easiest and most delicious pulled pork I have ever had!

Kalua Pork in the Slow Cooker

  • 1 - 6 pound pork butt roast (pork shoulder)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Hawaiian sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke flavoring

Pierce pork all over with a carving fork.

Rub salt then liquid smoke over meat.

Place roast in a slow cooker.

Cover, and cook on Low for 16 to 20 hours (or High for 8 to 10 hours), turning once during cooking time.

Remove meat from slow cooker; remove excess fat then shred, adding drippings as needed to moisten.

This Kalua pork is AMAZING!!!!!  It's super juicy and tender, falls right off the bone, and almost shreds itself!  Shredded pork can be eaten alone, on a roll or bun, in a tortilla... the uses are endless.  I will always make my pulled pork with this recipe from now on... it only requires a few ingredients and the prep is so easy.

I'm looking forward to comparing this Slow Cooker version to the traditional Hawaiian luau staple, Kalua pig, sometime soon!



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