Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kalua Pua-a (Kalua Pork)

 Kalua Pua-a is pork is a must for any Hawaiian luau.  Traditionally, a pig would be lowered into a fire pit, covered with Ti leaves and left to smoke for hours.  Since smoking a whole pig in a pit may not be practical for you, here is a simple recipe whose results are pretty close to the real thing!

It all begins with a pork butt and some ti leaves.  Any butcher can help you find a good butt; but, for ti leaves, you may have to search.  Ti leaves are part of the lily family and find many uses in Hawaiian culture.  Your local florist may have Ti leaves but I would be sure that they are food-safe.  Although you won't eat these, they will be in direct contact with your pork.  You can also find dried Ti leaves at your local Chinese or Phillipine grocery.  They are used for wrapping rice and meats for steaming.  If you use the dried leaves, be sure to soak them before placing them on your pork.

I have slightly modified a recipe that I found on the Polynesian Cultural Center's website.  I have added a little liquid smoke to give an authentic feel.  If you cook this dish on a grill, you can use a spray bottle to spritz the meat with liquid smoke or place some wet woodchips in an aluminum foil pouch, poke a few holes in the top and sit in on the coals or grate.  The smoke will gives that luau flavor which makes this dish unique.  Of course, if you are one of those "do it right or die" kind of people, grab a shovel and start digging.  As for me.....I am just going to heat up my oven!

Kalua Pua-a (Kalua Pork)
3lb pork butt
3T course salt (Kosher or Hawaiian)
4 - 8 C water
1T liquid smoke
1 or 4 ti leaves (optional)

In the slow cooker (my preference):
  1. Place butt in the slow cooker.
  2. Rub the meat with salt.
  3. Pour 4 cups water and the liquid smoke in the bottom of the pan.
  4. Place one ti leaf on top of the meat.
  5. Turn cooker to low and cook for 8 hours.
  6. When finished cooking, shred.
  7. Serve the meat and the juices over rice.

In the Oven:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place butt in a roasting pan with at least 3' sides.
  3. Rub the meat with salt.
  4. Pour 8 cups water and the liquid smoke in the bottom of the pan.
  5. Place the ti leaves on top of the meat.
  6. Seal the pan with aluminum foil.
  7. Place the meat in the oven and cook for 2-3 hours, until the meat falls apart.
  8. Remove from oven and shred.
  9. Serve over rice.

    Kitchen Tip:  I found this hot sauce at my local grocery.  It turned out not to really be hot at all but instead, a pleasant mix of sweet and spicy.  Serve this with the Kalua Pua'a for those who would like a little extra umph.  But, beware, this is not allergy safe for everyone.  Read the label.

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