When we lived in Provo, Utah we had a Samoan Family that lived down the street from us. One of the dishes that they taught us how to make was Kalua Pork. It has become my all time favorite way to fix pork.
Kālua is a traditional Hawaiian cooking method using an imu which is a type of underground oven. A traditional Imu is known to be a large sand pit that is usually 6 feet long x 4 feet wide x 3 feet deep. Large Rocks are placed in the pit to retain the heat after the Koa wood fire has turned to hot coals. Once the rocks have reached an extremely hot temperature, the pit is lined with Banana or Ti leaves, which creates the hot and steamy air that help to cook and keep the meat moist. The meat is usually rubbed with Hawaiian sea salt, garlic and herbs and stuffed with more hot rocks then wrapped in more banana or ti leaves. To maintain even heating and trap in the steamy moisture, the meat is covered with wet burlap bags and then covered with a layer of sand and dirt. The meat is then left to cook in the pit for 6 to 8 hours. During cooking, the meat absorbs the flavors from the smoke of the koa wood and steam of the banana or ti leaves. When the meat is fully cooked, it’s removed from the Imu and shredded to allow the melted fat to mix in with the meat for a uniform flavor and texture.
This meal is usually served at festivals and large family gathering such as LUAUS.
Even if you don't have an imu, you can still make Hawaiian kalua pig at home from pork butt purchased at your local supermarket.
- 4-5 pound pork butt
- 2½ tablespoons Hawaiian salt (substitute kosher salt)
- 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
- 1 banana leaf (substitute 6-8 whole green banana peelings )
- 4-6 ti leaves
Preparation:Trim about half the excess fat from the roast. Make several shallow long cuts along the roast. This allows the salt and liquid smoke to meld into the meat. Rub with salt and liquid smoke. Wrap the roast with banana leaf or place the whole green bananas peels on top of meat . Cut the ribs from the ti leaves and wrap over the banana leaf. Substitute aluminum foil, if ti leaves are not available. (Side Note: Ti leaves can sometimes be obtained from your local florist).
Roast for 6-8 hours in an imu or in a 325-350 degree oven for about 45 minutes per pound. When meat is done, remove ti leaves, banana leaf (or bananas) and shred pork.