I have been meaning to post this recipe for a while. This amazingly easy and incredibly delicious Hawaiian style slow cooker Kalua pork. Or Crock pot Kalua pork. Whatever you call the cooking vessel. I call it the way to amazing Hawaiian style pork. Which is also called Kalua Pig. Either way its delicious.
Mmmmmm. Pork. Funny story about this pork. We were in Hawaii a few years ago hanging on the beach in Kauai on a Sunday, when all the locals are out having their weekend Luau. All kinds of yummy smells coming from the picnic areas at the beach. I adore Hawaiian food. We happened to be near one couple that had some little kids that were playing near our little girl. So we started chatting with them. So friendly and funny. We were asking them what they were cooking etc. The conversation turned to Kalua pork. I was saying how it was my favorite dish. Traditional Hawaiian Kalua pork is cooked in an underground oven called an Imu. Its basically a 2- 4 foot deep pit dug and filled with kindling and rock, most often lava rock or basalt, and lit on fire. It takes a few hours for the kindling to turn to coal and the stones to get to an even heat and once they are ready to cook the pig, leaves are placed on top to steam cook the pork. Hawaiians would traditionally use anything from coconut palm fronds to grass to banana leaves. The whole pig is then laid on top of the bed of greenery, covered with more leaves or greens then the dirt that was dug out of the pit is used to cover it back up to keep the heat in. Its cooked at least 8 hours, depending on the size of the pig. Similar amount of time it takes to cook a 4-6lb pork shoulder in a crock pot, but without having to dig a hole in your hard and find banana leaves.
Traditional Kaula pork is seasoned with Hawaiian salt, rock or red salt. I always buy a bag of this salt when we go to Hawaii on vacation. I also find it at Cost Plus World Market. Have I ever mentioned how much I love that store?
The smoke flavoring comes from the style of the cooking in the underground oven. Since I currently live in a rental home digging that pit for the imu isn’t happening and we don’t own an actual smoker, so liquid smoke is like totally the next best thing. The Hawaiian guy we were talking to on the beach told us that for making Kalua pork in the oven or crock pot that hickory flavored liquid smoke was better to use than mesquite.
So back to this story from the beach. he guy was telling us that the best way was either in an oven in a pan with the pork wrapped in banana leaves after being smothered in liquid smoke and Hawaiian sea salt or to use a slow cooker but he had never used a slow cooker, just had many cousins that had. And that either recipe would work. Hawaiians call each other Aunty and Uncle and Cousin. No matter what, blood relation or just friends. He told us to call him Cousin Ben and that we were now his “Cousins” and to come visit any time. Aloha spirit. That’s one of the many things I love about Hawaii. His wife was super nice and their kids were so adorable. And I am forever thankful for being on the beach that day for this recipe. Although when I got home I had maybe forgotten so I googled and found the exact same recipe on like 50 different sites but who cares I heard it first from a local Hawaiian so my recipe is courtesy of ” Cousin” Ben of Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii
Pork in the crock pot. First you want to get anywhere from a 4-6 lb pork shoulder roast or “Boston” butt. We find our pork roasts at Costco and butcher them into 3-4 sections depending on the weight of the roast we get and we freeze most of it until we want to cook it. Place one of the sections rinsed and patted dry with paper towels into the crock pot.
6 – 8 hours later ( or overnight) Kalua pork/pig.
- 1 4-6 lb pork shoulder or Boston butt roast
- 1 Tbsp liquid smoke, Hickory or Mesquite flavor
- 2-3 tsp red Hawaiian Sea salt (for a smaller roast, 2-3 tbsp for a larger)***
- Banana leaves - optional (I personally don't use them)
- Wash and pat dry the pork roast and place in the slow cooker
- Pierce all over with a fork, pour the liquid smoke evenly over the roast and sprinkle liberally with the sea salt.
- Place the lid of the slow cooker on and set the time for 8-12 hours on LOW.
- Check at about 8 hours for doneness. If not done let go the full 12 hours, checking every hour.
- Either remove the pork from the pot and shred with a fork and return to pot or shred in the pot when its done. You can remove some of the liquid and shred then add some back in to keep the pork from drying out.
So many friends ask me for this recipe and since we make it so often, and its so simple with few ingredients, 3 exactly, that I tell them verbatim and never email the recipe. My friend Christy thought it was Kahlua pork, and while that sounds amazing, its actually has no booze in it. But that gave me an idea for a post in the near future…. Booze or not, this recipe is amazing and foolproof and really really really tasty.