Monday, August 7, 2017

How to Make Kalua Pig in a Slow Cooker

How to Make Kalua Pig in a Slow Cooker

Bring the luau out of the back yard and into the slow cooker with this simple 3 ingredient recipe for slow cooked pork. This is a great meal to take to friends, and the leftovers freeze well.

a plate of slow cooker kalua pig with fresh pineapple, hot cooked rice, sweet Hawaiian roll, and cabbage

Disclosure--there is nothing to disclose. This post is not sponsored by anyone--it's just for me. I'm putting on the 'blogger' hat and writing a web log about recent events, primarily to help me debrief myself as much as to have a record on my website of this recipe, this experience. Scroll down (there's a video!) if you're just interested in the recipe and not my life.

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Earlier this year I read a book called The Year of Yes [Amazon link below with some other stuff. You click, you find something else to buy, and I may get a couple of pennies for my annual website costs. Up to you. Thanks.] In the book, Shonda Rhimes wrote about choosing to say Yes to projects outside her comfort zone, and I decided to do the same thing. When my local community center asked me to teach another canning class I said yes and developed a pickling class I'll be teaching next month. When Jennifer of the Ohio Pork Council asked me to do a cooking demo at the Ohio state fair? Of course I said yes.

Bring the luau out of the back yard and into the slow cooker with this simple 3 ingredient recipe for slow cooked pork. This is a great meal to take to friends, and the leftovers freeze well.

The schedule looked busy. The dates of Fair Week included the time I'd be up in Minnesota having a family reunion celebrating my folks' 60th anniversary and visiting my spouse at his new assignment, meaning I'd come off driving 2200+ miles and jump right into cooking? It seemed reasonable 3 months ago, and in fact it was just fine. I was crazed and harried, but just fine. Jennifer asked me to cook something easy, and after about 30 seconds of thought I knew I'd be grabbing a lei and channeling my time in Hawaii. I could cook this with my eyes closed, although there are knives involved so I don't recommend you try it.

I lived in Hawaii, on Oahu, twice--both times courtesy of the military. During my first stay, my son was born in a Pepto bismol pink hospital on the side of a mountain while I was assigned to the patient squadron and waddled around exploring as much of the island as I cared in my heavily pregnant/postpartum state. [You might think that's not much, but you don't know my spouse. He had us hiking up to see waterfalls the day after our baby was released from the NICU--2 weeks after my C section.] My spouse was the one stationed in Hawaii the next time we lived on Oahu. He likes to refer to the assignment as my 3½ year "Hawaiian Honeymoon". [We had a JoP wedding in the States and I'd flown back to Germany 2 days later, so no honeymoon. The marriage was the important part, not the vacation.] When we arrived in Hawaii, our kids were 2½ years old (returning to his birthplace) and 8 months (our baby girl). They were 6 and 4 when we left. Yes, I changed a lot of  diapers. I don't think you're supposed to wash diapers on a honeymoon, nor have your spouse go on a deployment, so I'm still waiting for my trip.

But enough about me--time for the recipe.

3 ingredients are needed to make kalua pig in a slow cooker: pork, salt, and liquid smoke
You can see the difference between a fancy label and a plain label above. Go with plain.

This simple recipe needs just 3 ingredients, a slow cooker, and time. Don't let the total time on the recipe card put you off--it's less than 5 minutes hands on to prepare, and maybe 10 minutes to shred the meat after it's cooked. During the 20 hours in between, the slow cooker is doing all the work and you, and your family and any dogs nearby, are just enjoying the smells. When I started making this, I used this recipe, but over the years I've tweaked it to my own. I typically start the pork in the evening while I'm in the kitchen with a glass of wine, nagging the kids to clean up from dinner. My slow cooker automatically shuts off after 12 hours, so when I wake up in the morning I turn it off and restart it before heading to work. By the time I'm home, the meat is done. You could shred the meat at that point, but I don't. I let the slow cooker insert cool and put it into the fridge. The next morning it's easy to skim off the fat and shred the meat while it's cool.

kalua pig leftovers can be used in pizza, main dish salad, sandwiches or summer rolls

My favorite cut of pork shoulder to use in this recipe is a Boston Butt. Look for the kind that does NOT come in a salt solution for best flavor. [I've found if the pork has a snazzy label it's been injected with a salt solution. Go for plain over fancy on the label, and you'll do the seasoning yourself.] This cut usually ranges from 6 to 9 pounds and provides a lot of meat, so much so that I've fed 3 families from one hunk of pork. That's my favorite way to use this dish--as a meal taken to others. Folks with a new baby, folks moving into or out of town . . . anytime I sign up to bring food to someone who could use a home-cooked meal, this is one of my go-to dishes. I serve with with my simple sautéed cabbage, hot cooked sticky rice, fresh pineapple, and dessert. I'll include a package of Hawaiian sweet rolls or slider buns because the leftover pork makes a great sandwich, too. I've shared other recipes using kalua pig--as a pizza topping in my Kalua Pig & Chinese cabbage Pizza, in a main dish salad, my Kalua Pork, Cabbage, and Pineapple salad, and in my Kalua Pig & Kohlrabi summer rolls. This recipe freezes well, and can be reheated on the stovetop or in a crock pot (save a little of the juice). My kids also use the microwave to warm the leftovers.

a plate of kalua pig with rice, cabbage, and fresh pineapple

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the Ohio Heartland Cooking stage at the Ohio State Fair, with Julie hard at work. And a bottle of Ohio wine for me!
The Ohio Heartland cooking stage in the Taste of Ohio Cafe at the Ohio State Fair. Julie's hard at work in the background--and she gave me this wine! Woot!

How was the experience of demonstrating this recipe at the Ohio state fair, you ask? Good. Fast. Hot. Tasty. A blur. I learned 3 things. First, all of my time spent chatting and chopping at work made it easier for me to chat and chop on a stage. Second, I've apparently inherited my mom's ability to talk at length. Third, if I ever say Yes! again, I'll remember to start my own camera before I start cooking so I have a record of it, and I'll remember to move the completed dish into camera view--wouldn't you rather see cooked pork? I know I would.
Thank you to 3 J's and an H (Jennifer, Julie, Janet and Heather) for advice and support before, during, and after my demo. I appreciate it!

1 comment:

  1. Honestly, I'm pretty skeptical about this combination, pig and pineapple. But hey, the images look very good and I think it's delicious, especially because it's made using a slow cooker. I think I'll give it a try!