Friday, October 28, 2016

Kālua Pig (Slow Cooker, Instant Pot)

Kalua Pig from the Instant Pot

I've sadly never been to Hawaii. Maybe one day. I have had pork and even beef cooked in a pit/hole in the ground though, and both are insanely delicious. So very tender, juicy, and flavorful, despite the absence of spices and herbs. Usually just salt. I remember as a child, we went to visit my cousins on their farm. One time they had a bunch of people over and they cooked a cow in the ground. IT WAS AMAZING. Just a little salt, smokey good flavor from the smoke and the earth. Perfection. I suspect Kālua Pig, or is like that, if so, this comes pretty darn close. Authentic or not this recipe is so yum. Anything wrapped in banana leaf is going to have a beautiful flavor from them also. I'll be posting a traditional Lao dish using banana leaves soon that is savory. Until then here is a sweet dessert that's wrapped in banana leaves called Khao Tom Mad.
Kālua Pig Spring Rolls.
You can serve the Kālua Pig/Kalua Pig with rice, roasted or steamed vegetables such as Collard Greens (recipe follows) or steamed cabbage (recipe follows). This leftover Kālua Pig is also wonderful wrapped in Spring Rolls, or used in Vermicelli Noodle Salads. You can also use it for soups, stews, as taco meat, in Chinese steamed buns. It's perfect for noodle bowls and Ramen bowls.
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Kālua Pig has very few ingredients, but each packs big flavor.

Just five ingredients, simple. If you are making this in the Instant Pot, or any pressure cooker you will need some liquid to help it come to pressure. You do not need to add any liquid if you are using a slow cooker. I use an Instant Pot, so any directions written in this post will be for that electric pressure cooker.

Get that bacon cooked!

 The bacon adds a smokey flavor, as does the smokey salt. If you use these, you don't need to add liquid smoke. I prefer to not use liquid smokey but if you like your roast to have more of that flavor you can use it.

This is one layer of my roast, I just added the remaining meat on top.

I have trimmed and cut my roast before hand, cutting slits into the meat and pushing the garlic in. After that preparation, I put it in a freezer bag and keep it in the freezer. This is perfect for when I don't have the time to wait for a roast to thaw fully before trimming and cutting it. I can just take it out of the freezer the night before and cook it from partially frozen the next day. This sometimes means you need to increase your cooking time, so plan for that. 

Fragrant banana leaf brings a flavor to this Kālua Pig.
There's no need to wrap the meat in the banana leaf. It will impart it's flavor as the roast cooks without being around the whole roast.

Kālua Pig in NINETY minutes in the Instant Pot.
Ninety minutes is FAST for this dish, but please also keep in mind that it takes about 10-15 minutes for the pot to come up to pressure. Then add in a 15 minute natural pressure release time. That is more than ninety minutes, but it's a lot less time than 10-12 hours if you forget to put it in the slow cooker in the morning. This is a go to meal for us!

Collard Greens Stove Top
Collard Greens Slow Cooker
Pressure cooker method below.

Kālua Pig

5 pound Boston Butt or Pork Shoulder roast, bone in or boneless.
2-4 teaspoons of  Hawaiian red alaea salt coarse, smoked if you can get it*
4 slices smokey bacon
5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled
Banana leaf, about 15 inches long**
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (Optional, see note)***
1 cup water

Instant Pot Method:

  1. Wash the banana leaves well, they can be dusty even if you buy them frozen.
  2. Turn the pressure cooker on to SAUTE mode.
  3. Once the pressure cooker is heated, add the bacon, and cook. 
  4. Turn off the pressure cooker.
  5. Trim any fat off the roast, and cut it into three to four equal pieces. 
  6. Cut slits into the meat with the tip of your knife, just big enough to push the cloves of garlic into it.
  7. Sprinkle the meat with salt, use LESS than the full amount. You can always season more after tasting.
  8. Put the pork- including the bone if there is one, and water into the pressure cooker.
  9. Add liquid smoke, if using.
  10. Place the banana leaf on top of the pork, just lay it on top, tucking it so that the lid can close properly. 
  11. Close the lid of the pressure cooker select MANUAL, HIGH pressure, and set the time for 90 minutes. 
  12. Once the cook time is complete, let the pot naturally release pressure for about 15 minutes.
  13. Discard the banana leaf.
  14. Shred the pork with two forks, if it is not fork tender, cook it for 10 minutes longer.
  15. Season with more salt if needed.
  16. Serve with sides, on top of a salad, or in Spring Rolls.

Slow Cooker Method

  1. Wash the banana leaves well, they can be dusty even if you buy them frozen.
  2. Cook the bacon, and place it into the slow cooker along with up to 3 tablespoons of bacon drippings. 
  3. Trim any fat off the roast, and cut it into three to four equal pieces. 
  4. Cut slits into the meat with the tip of your knife, just big enough to push the cloves of garlic into it.
  5. Sprinkle the meat with salt, use LESS than the full amount. You can always season more after tasting.
  6. Put the pork- including the bone if there is one into the slow cooker. (NO water is needed.)
  7. Add liquid smoke, if using.
  8. Place the banana leaf on top of the pork, just lay it on top, tucking it so that the lid can close properly. 
  9. Close the lid of the slow cooker and cook on low for 10-12 hours, or until fork tender.
  10. Discard the banana leaf.
  11. Shred the pork with two forks, season with more salt if needed.
  12. Serve with sides, on top of a salad, or in Spring Rolls.

NOTES:

*If using a fine cut/grind salt, use less.
**I buy frozen banana leaves from the Asian market, Latin markets also carry them.
***Get that smoked flavor: 
Smoked salt, if you have a smoker or knows someone who does, the next time that smoker is on grab a cup of salt and put it in there so it can get infused with the gorgeous smoke. 
You can also do this with a neutral flavored vegetable oil. If you use one of these methods, have a really smokey bacon, or have a smoked salt on hand, use either or a combo instead of the liquid smoke. I never have liquid smoke on hand. I prefer the other three options.
*FREEZER TIP: Roast can be trimmed. Cut slits into the meat and push the garlic in. Freeze in freezer safe container, when ready to cook you can thaw overnight in the refrigerator, or cook from frozen in the Instant Pot. You may need to add a little cooking time.

Collard Greens

2- 3 bunches of greens, washed, stems removed
Reserved liquid from Kālua Pig*, plus water 
1 jalapeno
2-4 teaspoons salt free creole seasoning (recipe here)
White vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or vinegar from picked peppers (Optional)
  1. Roll the leaves of the greens up from the long side, and slice into approximately 1 inch strips.
  2. Add reserved cooking liquid, if it is overly salty, just use part reserved cooking liquid and add water.
  3. Add water to come up to about 1/2 to 3/4  of the greens.
  4. Cook on MANUAL, HIGH for 25 minutes and let it release pressure naturally.
  5. Season with salt and pepper, add a splash of your favorite vinegar to taste.

Steamed Cabbage

1 head of cabbage cleaned
1/2 cup reserved liquid from Kālua Pig
1/2 cup water
  1. Cut cabbage into 4-5 wedges
  2. Place into the pot along with reserved liquid and water.
  3. Close the lid and cook on MANUAL, HIGH pressure for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Do a quick release, so the cabbage doesn't get mushy.



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