Years ago, some friends opened a restaurant called “The Teriyaki Hut”. My friends were from Hawaii. Naturally their menu included some island favorites such as Kahlua Pig. I loved the stuff – it was about as close as you can get to the pit-roasted pig without roasted an entire pig beneath a bed of banana leaves and hot coals. I first fell in love with Kahlua Pig at a luau in Maui. Needless to say, I asked for the recipe. (And just as a side note, their venture into the restaurant business failed miserably. While the brothers were skilled in the kitchen, turning out authentic Hawaiian dishes that were fabulous, they lacked any sort of business sense. To succeed in any business, one must have at least some business sense or money enough to surround oneself with people who do.)
Anyway, my friends were more than willing to share their recipe for Kahlua Pig. It was unbelievably easy – the pork is slow roasted in the oven with chicken broth, liquid smoke and Alaea Hawaiian Clay Salt. Since the pork is cooked in a 300 degree oven for 4-6 hours, it wasn’t something I made in the summer, as the kitchen got far too warm. It was also something I didn’t make on a week night since I was gone far too long and their recipe required some tending throughout the cooking process.
One day while surfing the net, I came across a recipe for Slow Cooker Kahlua Pork at ihearteating.com. Her recipe was similar to mine. The biggest differences were that she used a pork butt cooked in a crock pot and the recipe did not include chicken broth. Mine was a pork tenderloin, slow roasted in the oven with chicken broth to keep the meat moist right from the start. We both use liquid smoke and Alaea Hawaiian Clay Salt.
She poked holes in the meat, rubbed it with salt, then the liquid smoke. The pork butt was then placed in a crock pot set on low and cooked for 10-12 hours, turning mid-way through and basted with the juices in the pot. My tenderloin was scored, rubbed with salt, then sprinkled with liquid smoke. It was then placed in a clay roasting pan with enough chicken broth to come half way up the roast. After about 2 hours, mine was broken up, spread out and continued to cook, pulling out every 30 minutes or so to break up the meat and spread out until it was fully shredded. (See what I meant about tending – not very practical during the week.)
The more I thought about it, the more I was sure that I could make my Kahlua Pig in the crock pot, skipping the turning mid-way, skipping the basting, and totally foregoing the periodic shredding. It was an experiment that turned out to be a huge success.
I cannot stress this enough – DO NOT reach into your spices and pull out table salt, regular sea salt or kosher salt. You cannot substitute the Alaea Hawaiian Clay Salt with anything else. While sea salt is normally a silver-white crystal, Alaea Hawaiian Clay Salt is a glorious reddish-brown. Alaea Hawaiian Clay Salt is naturally processed by hand, and mixed with the traditional volcanic rich clay of Hawaii. The clay is a big part of the salt, making it rich in iron and about 80 other minerals the human body needs to function properly. It comes from the salt farms of Molokai, the tiniest and least developed of the Hawaiian islands. Both the ocean where the unrefined sea salt is collected and the alaea clay are pure, devoid of industrial pollutants. Imagine, a salt that is good for you! You can buy the salt in small bags at World Market, or order it on-line. Personally, I think Alaea Clay Salt plays a huge role in the flavor of the pork.
Kahlua Pig in a Crock Pot
1 (4 lb) Pork Tenderloin
2-3 Tablespoons Alaea Hawaiian Clay Salt
3-4 Tablespoons liquid smoke flavoring
1 Can Chicken Broth
Score pork with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern.
Rub salt over and into the pork.
Wash your hands well. Place your index finger over the opening of the liquid smoke bottle. Lightly sprinkle the pork with the liquid smoke. Rub over and into the meat. Turn pork over, score, then repeat with the salt and smoke.
Place roast in a slow cooker.
Pour in enough chicken broth to come about half way up roast.
Cover, and cook on low for 10 to 12 hours.
Shred meat using a large carving fork. As it shreds, the pork will absorb most of the liquid, making it both flavorful and moist. If all the juices are absorbed, add a little more chicken broth. You’ll want some liquid when serving. Allow pork to continue to simmer in the wonderful juices while the rice is cooking.
To serve, fill a large platter with sticky rice. Place shredded pork over the rice, juices and all.