Kalua Pig

I’ve been trying like crazy to think of a way to complicate this recipe for you, just so I feel like I’ve legitimately offered you a “recipe.” Somehow, giving you a list of just three ingredients — four, if you count the rice — doesn’t seem to qualify. But I can’t do it. Adding even one thing would mess this up beyond repair. If you really want to make it harder on yourself, though, you could always run out back, dig a giant hole, build a fire in it, wrap a full pig in banana leaves (a great way to use up all the banana leaves you’ve been stockpiling), cover the mess back up, and cook underground for 18 hours. Your call.

The first time I tried this, we’d been invited to dinner by a new couple at church. I honestly can’t remember the woman’s name (it was a long time ago, and they’ve been gone for just about as long … I think they didn’t like the color of our chairs, or something equally significant), but I do remember that when she ladled up a plate for me, and I took that first bite, my heart stopped beating for second or two. Where had this dish been all my life? I will forever be grateful to the unnamed woman for rattling off the three ingredients for me. Because if I’m ever on death row being offered my wish for a last meal, I now have it at the ready.

This is a Hawaiian dish, and usually served with sauteed cabbage and onions. I know this because when Dave and I went to Maui last year for our 25th anniversary, I had it twice, and that’s what it came with.

I really think you should make this. Immediately. But first, a little mood-setter to get you going:

Ready for those three ingredients?

Kalua Pig

  • one 5-6 lb pork butt roast (this is the best cut, but you can use shoulder too)
  • one handful kosher or Hawaiian salt (you can get Hawaiian salt at Target or Trader Joe’s)
  • 2-3 TBSP liquid smoke

Whew! I did all that from memory.

Somewhere around 9 pm on the night before you want to eat this, place the roast in your crock pot, sprinkle or rub with the salt, and pour 2 TBSP liquid smoke over all. Cover and bake on low till morning. It will look like this:

Flip the roast over and cook another five or six hours. Then take two weapons of mass destruction (a.k.a two big, not-necessarily-matching forks) …

… and show that roast who’s boss.

The truth is, if you wait the whole 20 hours (and by way of confession, I did not. Because I woke up to that tantalizingly smoky smell and couldn’t wait for dinner, or even lunch), you don’t actually have to touch the roast with these forks. Just hovering them over the crock pot and clinking them lightly together will cause your roast to collapse itself into tender, bite-sized flakes.

Taste. If it’s not smoky enough for you, add another TBSP of liquid smoke. I always end up adding that third tablespoon, but you might have a wimpier palate. There’s no shame in that … own your timidity! 🙂

After shredding, continue cooking on low until ready to serve.

This is best served over rice, because then you have something to soak up all that smoky liquid. I’d love to have a real rice cooker some day, but for now I’m pretty happy with my Pampered Chef rice cooker. Have you seen these?

It’s so easy. Just fill with two cups of rice and three cups of water, cover with the special two-part lid, and microwave 5 minutes on full power and 12 more on 50% power.

Theoretically, you can also bake a cake in this rice cooker. But it will look like cake baked in a rice cooker.

So there you have it — perhaps the world’s simplest recipe. But you’re going to be glad you have it.


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