This is one of those personal recipes with a little background story. You can find the story on a prior posting; Kahlua Pig in a Crockpot. My Slow Roasted recipe below is the inspiration for my crock pot rendition of the same dish. Not only does the earlier posting give you a bit of background for the recipe itself, it also provides you with the option of using a crock pot rather than an oven to slow roast your “pig”. While both methods are delicious, the use of a clay pot and slow roasting in the oven does produce a pig that more closely parrots the real deal of a Hawaiian Luau.
Just as I did with my Crock Pot rendition for Kahlua Pig, once again I cannot emphasis enough the importance of your salt selection for Kahlua Pig. Alaea Salt from Hawaii is a must and for the real deal in flavor, there are no substitutes. As tempting as it may be, DO NOT reach into your spices and pull out table salt, regular sea salt or kosher salt. While you could use other salts, Alaea Salt contains two key elements – salt from the seas of Hawaii and Hawaiian Clay. No other salt contains the clay of Hawaii, and therefore no other salt can impart that Hawaiian earthy flavor quit like Alaea Salt can. While sea salt is normally a silver-white crystal, Alaea Hawaiian Clay Salt is a glorious reddish-brown. The salt is naturally processed by hand, and mixed with the volcanic rich clay of Hawaii. This 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. Alaea Salt 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. It’s the next best thing to digging a pit on a Hawaiian island and roasting a pig deep in the ground.
Traditionally, a pig is roasted for as much as eight hours in an underground oven called a imu. A fire made from mesquite wood is build in the pit. Rocks are placed in the pit to retain the heat long after the flames of wood has burned down. Once the rocks are heated, the pit is lined in banana leaves, just as the meat is wrapped in the same leaves. Wet burlap buries everything in the ground, allowing the smoke to circulate while the leaves help keep everything moist. While we don’t have access to banana leaves where I live, I find the use of banana peels aids in the slow roasting process, imparting a sweet tropical flavor while aiding in the whole smokey steam thing. Don’t worry that the banana peel will eventually turn black. During the final cooking, simply toss the peel as it won’t be a part of the final presentation.
Slow Roasted Kahlua Pig
2 lbs Pork Loin
2 Can Chicken Broth
Liquid Smoke to taste (about 1-2 tablespoons)
1 Tablespoon Alaea Salt or to taste
4 Banana Leaves or 1 Banana Peel (optional)
1 Head Green Leaf Lettuce, for serving (optional)
Preheat oven to 325-degrees.
Score pork on both sides. Rub about a handful of Alaea Salt over entire pork loin. Take care not to over-salt, seasoning can always be adjusted during final cooking process. Sprinkle pork with liquid smoke – simply place your finger over the bottle opening and gently shake over entire pork loin.
Place seasoned pork in a clay pot with a lid. Drape banana leaves or banana peel over top of pork. Add chicken broth to pot, cover and place in the oven to “roast”.
Cook undisturbed for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Discard banana leaves/peel and break pork apart using a fork.
Reduce oven to 300-degrees. Continue to cook covered, checking periodically and flaking meat with a fork.
Add additional chicken broth if necessary to keep pork moist. Cook until meat falls apart easily, about 1 ½ to 2 hours longer. When the pork is nearly finished, taste and adjust seasonings (adding small amounts of salt and/or liquid smoke as needed). Be gentle when adding more salt or smoke – you can always add more, but you can’t take back too much.
Remove from oven, pull apart using large fork. Cover and let rest in pot to soak up remaining liquid, about 10 minutes.
A nice presentation would be to line a serving platter or individual plates with lettuce leaves. Top leaves with sticky rice, and serve pig over rice. Drizzle with a little juice and garnish with a pretty tropical flower. If you are unsure of the flower, use an artificial one. Just be sure to wash well first.