Aloha! This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy pork. Perhaps it’s because it brings back delicious and fond memories of enjoying kalua pork on the North shore of Oahu. What amazes me is how simple this recipe is. With a little patience and Hawaiian sea salt, you’ll be transported back to the islands. Add a Mai Tai in hand and your set. The best part is, there is no digging a roasting pit on the beach required. Your slow-cooker will do all the work for you.
This recipe makes allot of kalua pork. You can practically feed an army with it. Especially if you serve up a few side dishes like cole slaw or fresh fruit. So, if you’re hosting the family or feeding your teen’s football team ~ this might be the recipe for you. I save at least half in an air-tight container and freeze it for more gloomy days when I feel like some Aloha spirit. It’s cheaper than a ticket to Honolulu (although, not nearly as exciting). 🙂
One of the most essential ingredients to achieving an authentic kalua pork flavor is to use Hawaiian sea salt. I chose India Tree Red Hawaiian Sea Salt. This product is from a local Seattle company and is a traditional mix of Pacific Ocean sea salt and Hawaiian red clay. This stuff is amazing. Only a small amount is needed. The flavors intensify in the slow-cooker.
Another important ingredient which gives the pork that special slow roasted BBQ pig flavor is to use a very small amount of liquid smoke. A little goes a long way. And I recommend using a mesquite liquid smoke, like Stubb’s Mesquite Liquid Smoke.
Kalua is a traditional Hawaiian cooking method which means literally “to cook in an underground oven.”
In Hawaii, vegetation such as banana leaves are also used to line the roasting pit. To attempt to impart some of that sweet vegetation flavor in my pork, I decided to go out on a limb and try adding a banana on top of the pork part-way through the cooking time. I cut the banana in half and laid it fruit side down on top. After it cooked, I removed the banana peel before shredding the meat. The fruit just disintegrated into the meat. This seemed to add a subtle sweetness, which we quite liked. In fact next time, I may add two bananas if I can fit them in. My bananas were also frozen. I often have frozen bananas on hand. I toss them into the freezer once they are almost too ripe to use in banana bread.
I used a 6.47 lb pork shoulder roast. Your roast should be minimum 6 lbs for this recipe. It barely fit into my 6-quart slow-cooker. But don’t be shy ~ push it in there. It’s all good. The cooking time on this recipe is very long. But cooking it low and slow helps achieve that special slow-roasted BBQ flavor. I cooked it for 18 hours total. Yes, you read that right ~ 18 hours. I started it in the afternoon and let it cook through the night. In the morning, I finished shredding the meat and skimming some of the fat away. Then, I returned everything to the slow-cooker and placed it in the fridge until we were ready to reheat it for dinner.
(If you want it to be finished in the evening, place it in the slow-cooker the night before (ie. 10 pm for ready next day at 4:00 pm).
If you’re craving a little taste of the islands, give this recipe a try. I think you’ll love it. Aloha!
Important items for this recipe:
- 1 6.5 lb pork shoulder roast
- 1 1/2 tbsp Hawaiian sea salt
- 1 tbsp mesquite liquid smoke
- 1 - 2 frozen bananas cut in half
Using a carving fork, pierce the pork shoulder all over. Next rub the salt and the liquid smoke all over. Place the pork fatty side up into the slow-cooker.
Cover and cook on low for 18 hours. About half way through this time, turn the roast over. When you turn it over, add the frozen banana fruit-side down on top. Cover and continue cooking.
Remove the meat from the slow-cooker to a large baking tray. Shred the meat. Skim the fat from the liquid in the slow-cooker. Return the shredded meat back into the juices and stir it up.
This recipe goes great with cole slaw and King's Hawaiian sweet rolls. Recipe complements pineneedlesinmysalad.com For more great recipes delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our monthly newsletter. Tip: (If you want the pork to be finished in the evening, place it in the slow-cooker the night before (ie. 10 pm for ready next day at 4:00 pm)