I first had kalua pig when Scoob took me home to Hawaii to meet his mom 6 years ago. We thought kalua pig was one of those foods you have to be in Hawaii to enjoy; but we were wrong.
Scoob was out riding his bike about 3 years ago and as he rode through the park, he passed a group of Hawaiians having a bbq. He stopped and chatted them up as he does every time he meets another Hawaiian and he ended up crashing the picnic.
They had all the good stuff that Scoob hadn't had since he was back home: lomi lomi, "real" macaroni salad, poi, and so much more. You could tell all the aunties had been up since dawn putting on this spread. But best of all, they had the pig.
Now traditionally, kalua pig is cooked in an imu (an underground pit bbq). So here we were wondering how they managed to cook this pig in the Bay Area. Even if somebody actually had a backyard big enough to have an imu, we knew you wouldn't be able to, at least not within the metro area. About a year later, the guy in charge of making the kalua pig for their parties shared the recipe with Scoob. And now I share it with you.
CAUTION: This is not a diet friendly recipe. It is neither low-fat, low-cal, nor low-sodium. Oh damn but it is good. Do not attempt to make this with a leaner cut—you will be disappointed. We tried it. Once.
Cooking time: 15–20 hours (You'll want to start this the night before you actually want to eat it.)
- 1 (4–6 lb) pork butt
- 1–1½ Tbsp Hawaiian sea salt
- 1 Tbsp liquid smoke
- Pierce the pork butt all over with a fork. The more the better. Rub the sea salt all over and place your butt in a crockpot. (The pork butt—not your butt.) Pour the liquid smoke on top.
- Cover and cook on low 16–20 hours.
- Remove from crockpot and shred. You may need to add some of the drippings to keep it moist.
We usually cook up a bunch of pig, a pot of sticky rice, and get a head of cabbage. We then shred some cabbage and cook it in a pan over medium-high heat with some pig (no need to add oil, the pig's got enough fat for all of us) just until the cabbage begins to soften, season to taste with some pepper, then serve it over rice.
As it turns out, the kalua pig I had in Hawaii was probably also cooked in a slow cooker. The FDA and Health Departments don't allow kalua pig cooked in an imu to be served to the public.