Kalua Pork is a dish from Hawaii cooked underground in a spit covered with banana leaves to help capture the steam that tenderizes the meat over the course of many hours. I know most of us can’t replicate an underground cooking vessel for such a dish, however I thought I could make a similar pork dish in a slow-cooker with pretty delicious results.
Kalua Pork all begins with a good cut of meat, not a whole-hog like in many traditional recipes, but a pork shoulder or pork butt in this recipe. The sauce in Kalua Pork can vary and I tend to err on the savory side of the equation – not too sweet with a umami flair. Soy sauce, crushed pineapple, ginger, garlic and sesame oil offer a nice balance of flavors and heighten this meal into a full pork-experience.
Cooking this dish over several hours in a slow-cooker is a nice substitute for underground cooking and let’s face it – a lot less of a mess. After 5-6 hours in a steady steam, the pork becomes fall-apart tender and juicy with all the richness that comes with this incredible meat. I think this dish makes great party food, or family supper for weekends – so, enjoy and let’s get cooking.
3 pounds pork shoulder, tied
1 white onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
2 teaspoons onion powder
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
20 ounce can crushed pineapple in it’s own juice
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, shredded
salt & pepper
- Sprinkle pork heavily with salt and pepper on all sides. In a slow-cooker insert or large pan, add 1 tablespoon oil and place over medium-high heat. After 2 minutes, add pork and sear on all sides until deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove pork and set aside.
- In the same pan, add onion and pepper and saute for 2 minutes. Add onion powder, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper and stir. Continue to cook for 1 minute.
- In a measuring cup, whisk together soy sauce and sesame oil. Add to onion mixture, stir. Add pineapple with juice, garlic and ginger, stir. Cook sauce for 3 minutes until lightly bubbly.
- Place pork on top of sauce and remove from heat. Place insert back into slow-cooker and spoon sauce over top before placing lid on cooker. Cook on high for 5-6 hours, for until fork-tender.
- Remove pork and place in serving dish, cut strings from around meat. Flake pork with fork and ladle most of sauce over top. Serve pork with rice, potatoes or vegetables and any additional sauce. Enjoy!