Craig’s Kitchen – Simple Kalua Pork

Many dishes in one!

What a deal.  Kalua pork is ridiculously simple to make but it’s taste depends mostly on how you cook it and the ingredients you use.  This is one of my favorites to make because of its taste and utility.  Then you can use the leftovers in egg drop soup!  Which tastes great by the way.  The saltiness of the kalua pork adds some depth to the soup beyond what is already there and turns it into a meal.  I also love using it to make omelettes!  The saltiness again adds some OOMPH to the dish.

Kalua pork sitting in its own yummy juices.  It never looks as good as it tastes.

Kalua Pork Three Ingredients:

  • Pork butt – I always find that term funny and totally inaccurate.  Pork butt is actually the shoulder portion of the pig.  But it’s great for cooking down into kalua pork (and a bunch of other stuff).  Make sure to get a boneless portion.  It makes it easier.  I use about 3 lbs for our family and always have left-overs.
  • Liquid smoke – I like to use hickory as it seems to deepen the overall flavor of the dish, but I’ve used applewood before and it tasted great.  Just a little less savory and a little more fruity (as you would imagine).
  • Hawaiian Pink Sea Salt – Definitely want to get the thicker grains of salt (almost like small pebbles) and really rub that in.  It breaks down better and gives it that salty taste you expect from this dish.
Personally, I love it fried up – sort of like carnitas.

Putting it together:

  1. Before putting it into the crock pot, pierce the pork butt with a fork multiple times on each side of the meat.  You want to basically create pockets for the liquid smoke to get into and spread into the meat.
  2. Pour about 1 tbsp for each 3 lbs evenly over the whole portion of pork butt.  I rub it in as I’m going.  If you like it extra smoky, go ahead and use more.  Our family likes it with a less intense smoky flavor.  You want enough to cover the surface as you spread it.
  3. Use about 1 heaping tbsp of sea salt for every 2-3 lbs.  One recipe I tried said 1 tbsp per pound but that was TOO salty for us.  Still use liberally over the surface of the meat.  You want to rub it in so it mixes into those nice holes you made and also settles into the meat so it melds the flavors well.
  4. Put it in the crock pot with the fat side up (I like the melting fat to drip down the meat and continue to keep the meat moist).  Set it on high for 8 hours or low for 12 hours.  Generally, it’s actually done before the time is up, but judge for yourself.  About 75% in I use two forks and start to break it up.  By then, there is a sizeable amount of juice in the bottom of the crock pot and you want it to really soak in the fat juices!  Shred the meat while it is in the pot and you’re pretty much done.
  5. (optional) Our family likes it when I then fry the kalua pork in a pan.  It turns crispy because of the fat content and has a great crust on it.  I create a layer of it on the bottom of the frying pan and let it sizzle on a medium high heat until it crisps up and then serve it either by itself, in an omelet, or with some egg drop soup.  All taste great.

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