Have you ever had kalua pork? If you have been to a luau in Hawaii the answer is probably, yes. So, what is kalua pork? Just the most tender, smoky, melt in your mouth pork you will ever taste. Traditionally it is wrapped in banana leaves and slow roasted in a pit filled with koa wood and rocks.
“Tender, smoky, melt in your mouth pork”
I fell in love with kalua pork on my visit to Maui! I had it for lunch, then ordered it for dinner, and when I wasn’t eating banana pancakes, I even had it with my eggs in the morning. The day we packed up to go home I was debating throwing out our clothes and packing kalua pork in the suitcases instead. My husband stepped in to stop the madness, but already my mind was churning out ways to recreate this dish when I got home.
Surprisingly, there are not too many imus or pits in Central Illinois. I had to think outside the box and create the taste using my grill and/or oven. That meant I had to concentrate on what I put on the pork vs. how I cooked the pork. I spent hours mixing and smoking herbs and spices until I found one that I liked. I really knew I nailed it when we invited friends and neighbors over for a pork roast and the quests kept commenting on the smoky flavor.
“I spent hours mixing and smoking herbs and spices.”
It was this recipe, and this smoked sea salt blend that started our spice blend business here at Cedar Oak Farms. I knew I had stumbled across something truly extraordinary and it would have been selfish of me not to share it. I literally use it on everything from popcorn, to eggs, to fried chicken, and of course, pork. If you buy only one spice from Cedar Oak Farms, make it the Smoked Sea Salt. Then try this recipe.
“If you buy only one spice from Cedar Oak Farms, make it the Smoked Sea Salt.”
Start by mixing 3 tablespoons of the smoked sea salt with 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder. Sprinkle the salt over the pork and rub into the skin creating a crust. Be sure to cover all sides. Wrap the pork in heavy duty foil and set aside.
In a 13×9-inch baking pan, mix 2 tablespoons of smoked liquid with 4 cups of water. Place a wire rack over the pan and set the pork on top of the rack. Now you have that smoky sea salt seeping into the meat as it tenderizes and then you have the smoky broth wafting through the covered grill adding another layer of smoke. Simply put, delicious!
Slow cook in a 325°F covered grill, or oven, for 4 hours, or until the pork is fork tender and falling apart. Remove from heat and let sit for 20 – 30 minutes. Remove the foil and using meat claws or two forks shred the meat.
Really there is no need to do anything more with the meat. Pile it on a plate with some Hawaiian potato salad and enjoy. If you would like to dress it up or have leftovers here are some past recipes that can be used with Kalua pork.