Hawaii is, without a doubt the tropical capital of America, with its' beautiful soothing vistas, relaxing ambiance and totally down to earth cooking in every sense of the word. The definition of Kalua in Hawaii means that you are basically cooking in a man-made, underground oven. This tradition is still in existence today, where a whole pig will be cooked on a spit over hot lava coals under banana and ti leaves, for the best part of the day. Today, we are making the easy version.
My family and I love pulled pork, so I'm always trying to come up with different ways to prepare it. My version of Kalua smoky pulled pork, uses whole bananas. It's a great way to use the bananas that start to go brown and your children refuse to eat them.
Ti leaves or banana leaves are traditionally tied around the pork before roasting. However, I do find Ti leaves hard to come by in local stores so my banana method works extremely well, creating moisture and a unique flavor into the pork as it cooks over a low heat.
This recipe can be easily be turned into pulled pork barbeque sandwiches. Just add your favorite barbeque sauce to the pork when reheating it, toast some good sturdy rolls brushed with a little olive oil, then pile on the pork and top it off with some cool, crisp coleslaw and you have a sandwich made in heaven!
4-5 lb. boneless pork butt roast, trimmed of the fat
3 tbsp. liquid smoke
2 tbsp. sea salt or kosher salt
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 ripe bananas, washed and unpeeled
5 cups of water
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
1. With a sharp utility knife make several deep slits into the pork (you can't have too many)!
2. Then, rub the liquid smoke and sea salt into the meat, and lastly, rub all over with olive oil. Next, put the bananas directly on top of the pork. Place the pork in a deep-sided roasting pan or large pot and pour the water around the edges of the pan or pot. Cover tightly with foil sealing the edges or use a very tight fitting lid. Cook for 3 hours undisturbed.
3. Carefully remove the meat to a cutting board or large dish and let it cool down. Reserve the juices from the pan.
4. Shred the pork with 2 forks pulling away all of the fatty bits. If you are shredding the pork for the next day, make sure to add a little of the reserved stock to it. This will keep the meat nice and moist while it sits in the refrigerator.
In a slow cooker prepare the pork the same way as directed above and cook for at least 8 hours, or until tender. Then, follow steps 3 and 4.
There are lots of different sea salts on the market nowadays but are sometimes pretty expensive. Please feel free to experiment with whichever flavor you choose. Red sea salt is commonly used in this recipe. However, kosher salt works well here if you cannot find, or afford, fancy sea salt!