Don’t worry, Mom. There is no Kahlua in Kalua Pork. It’s just the name of the delicious Hawaiian slow cooked pulled pork dish that is wrapped in ti leaves then, roasted underground on hot rocks and served at every luau I have ever been to. And you don’t have to worry, either. I’m not going to ask you to dig up the backyard and roast a giant pig just to make this sandwich. All you have to do is take out your slow cooker and plug it in. Really. It’s that easy.
Kalua Pork is a springtime favorite around here. I’m not quite sure why, maybe it’s the memories of college Spring Fling Carnivals or my husband’s Fiji Islander frat parties or even recent anniversary trips to Hawaii that make this such a fun dish. What ever the reason, you’ll find my slow cooker working over time to produce mountains of Kalua Pork. I usually make several batches and freeze them in small portions that are the perfect size to use in every dish from enchiladas and tacos to BBQ sandwiches.
So, grab your little umbrellas and put on your flip-flops, you are going to need them, because this is the easiest dish you will ever make.
First step, dust off the old crock pot. Ooops, I mean slow cooker and, if you wish, line it with frozen ti leaves or banana leaves. They are a nice touch and add a little flavor but, this step is totally optional. I only go to that step if I am hosting a big party or catering a fancy one for someone else. They are usually in the freezer or produce sections of your grocery store. If your store doesn’t carry them, you can get banana leaves at your local Latin market. Use the extra leaves to decorate the serving trays and tables.
Step two, rub the pork with sea salt or kosher salt and put it in the slow cooker. Pierce the surface of the pork with a large carving fork. Pour in the tablespoon or so of liquid smoke and pat it into the pork.
Final step, place the lid on the slow cooker and plug it in.
Yep, that’s it. Roast the pork over night on low and in the morning, you will wake up to the perfect pulled pork dish. Serve the Kalua Pork as is with rice and shredded cabbage (Hawaiian style) or transform it into carnitas, bbq, green chile, you name it. Don’t worry about the liquid smoke ruining your dishes, there is only a tiny bit and it only enhances the pork without being an obvious flavor.
I like to serve the Kalua Pork on a big, soft torta bun with pineapple salsa and a little bit of pineapple bbq sauce. I know, bbq sauce is not very Hawaiian but, hey, this is a southwest blog.
- 3 pounds pork shoulder (boneless)
- 1½ tablespoon sea salt or kosher salt
- 1½ tablespoon liquid smoke
- 1 fresh pineapple, small dice (1/4 inch)
- 1 red bell pepper, fine dice (1/8 inch)
- 1 jalapeno, fine dice (1/8 inch)
- ¼ small red onion, fine dice (1/8 inch)
- 1 handful cilantro leaves, minced
- 2 cups bbq sauce (your favorite brand)
- 12 ounces pineapple chunks
- 1 habanero chile, seeded and chopped
- 10 to 12 Torta buns or soft Kaiser Rolls
- 1 head Lettuce or Napa Cabbage
- Cut excess fat from pork, rub with salt and place in a slow-cooker. Pierce with a carving fork. Pour liquid smoke over pork and pat into the pork.
- Cover the slow-cooker and cook pork on low for 8 to 10 hours.
- Prepare the salsa by tossing the pineapple, red bell pepper, jalapeno, red onion and cilantro together. Refrigerate until serving.
- Combine bbq sauce, pineapple and habanero together in a food processor or blender. Pulse until well blended and smooth. Heat in a small sauce pan and set aside.
- To serve, warm the buns. Place a layer of cabbage on the bottom bun. Top with Kalua pork and pineapple salsa. Drizzle with bbq sauce.
These Kalua Pork Tortas are great for a picnic or an evening on the patio. Give them a try and let me know how you like them.
—posted by Sandy
Here are some great looking recipes that are just waiting for your leftover Kalua Pork:
Asian Lettuce Wraps by Kalyn’s Kitchen
Pork Carnitas Tacos by Everyday Southwest
Cuban Pulled Pork Sliders by Confections of a Foodie Bride
Pulled Pork Enchilada Casserole by Hogwash