Kalua Pig. The Hawaiian king of pork.

Unfortunately I don’t have a backyard, so I couldn’t dig a great big pit to roast this pork in, but there was no need. This baby was crock-potted overnight after rubbing some salt, liquid smoke and garlic on it. The result? HA! I can’t believe you had to ask.

This was such a hit! It is incredibly simple in its ingredients and preparation, but the flavor…OH the flavor! I think the name is funny, but it’s probably because in Hawaii they WOULD roast the entire pig in an inu–an underground pit filled with stones and firewood and banana leaves to protect the food.

Let me tell you a bit about these salts. Salt is salt, right? Well, maybe not. There’s black lava salt, which is salt that has been combined with activated charcoal; I find that this one has a slightly tart and smoky taste. It is also fun to see how it changes the color of the food it is added to. Red Alaea salt is enriched with volcanic red clay and is not as salty as most. I also used some smoked salt which is sea salt that has been smoked over firewood. So, you see, there’s salt and there’s salt.

Kalua Pig

4-5 lb pork shoulder roast
3 tbsp salts (combination of black lava, Alaea, smoked)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Banana leaves, trimmed

There’s not much in the way of prep work here. First I made a ‘rub’ with the salts, garlic, oil and liquid smoke and then rubbed it all over the piggy. Set it aside and let it hang out for an hour or so.

Get your banana leaves ready. The leaves I found were halved lengthwise, so I had to remove the center rib. I also removed all the brown spots, just in case. I laid cooking twine, then the leaves over the twine. Placed the roast on top, wrapped the leaves around it and tied it with the twine. Then I put the whole thing into the crock pot. I added a few more leaves at the bottom, covered it and turned the heat to low. If you can’t find banana leaves, don’t despair, the recipe will be fine without it. Just put the roast straight into th crock pot.

There is no need to add liquid, this will roast very slowly and any fat in the roast will be rendered and that is what the meat will cook in. I left it alone overnight, probably about 8 hours or so. When I checked the center temperature of the roast the next morning, it read at 180°. Perfection! Let it cool in the braising liquid.

You’ll notice the color of the leaves will change dramatically while steaming. If you’ve ever seen or eaten grape leaves, that’s what the color will look like.

The roast I purchased had the outer skin attached, and I L.O.V.E that skin. So to serve it, I heated up a bit of oil in a skillet over medium heat, then placed the roast, skin side down onto the skillet. I covered it with aluminum foil as it can get quite spattery and allowed it to crisp for about 10 minutes before flipping it to the other side. However, Hawaiians serve this by pulling the meat with forks.

Another thing I loved about this dish, was how unusual it looks. The lava salt gives the meat a charcoaly-grayish tone. It seems odd to eat black food.

Cookingly yours,