Smoked Kalua Pulled Pork Recipe
There's nothing quite like some authentic Hawaiian Kalua Pig when its done right. Over the past 6 years we have perfected our process, it has become the most popular item on our menu! Travelers from all over often ask us to share the secrets of this life changing pork, but until this moment, we have never revealed the process in its fullness... [drumroll.....] So... you asked... again and again and again... and now we are finally going to reveal the secrets of our Kalua Pulled pork in all its greatness!
STEP 1: Preparation
Only do this if you want to get that perfect amount of smoky flavor, seasoning, and juiciness in your pulled pork.
- Start by laying out the banana (or tai) leaves on a table
- sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, and 1 table spoon of fresh ground garlic on the leaves.
- place the pork butt on the seasoning with the fat cap side facing up.
- score the fat cap using a knife so that your top seasoning can cook down into the meat
- season the top of the butt with 1 tablespoon of salt and ginger, and 2 tablespoons of fresh garlic. work the seasoning down into the scores.
- wrap the pork butt up in the banana leaves and tie off with string.
Step 2: Smoking
The key to getting that perfect juicy pork is "slow and low". Smoking/roasting your pork over a longer period of time on a low heat is what is going to get your pork to fall apart and make pulled pork! Our Hawaiian Kalua Pork recipe is cooked in a rotisserie smoker for about 13 hours at 225 degrees to create a tender meat with a natural and authentic flavor. We have also found that hickory wood work best for us, but you can always experiment with other different types of hardwoods.
Depending on what equipment you are using at home, you may need to adjust these times and temperatures a little, and if you do not have equipment to regulate the temperature precisely you will need to make frequent adjustments to keep it as close to that 225 degree mark as possible! If you don't have a meat smoker, It can also be done in charcoal grill with wood chips, but will require careful monitoring.
*Smoking tip: the perfect temperature for pork to fall apart is between 198 and 205 degrees. Bringing the meat up to that temperature slowly is going to cause it to fall apart. DO NOT GET IMPATIENT! At about 150 degrees, your pork is going to go into a few hours of what us bbq enthusiasts call "the stall". The internal temperature of the meat wont rise for as long as 5-6 hours! but just be patient, this is due to the meat "sweating" where the moisture that is cooking out of the meat is evaporating and cooling the meat similiar to how our bodies work! for more information about the science of "the stall" check out this article by amazingribs.com:
Step 3: Unwrapping the bundle of joy
Now comes the fun part, pulling and eating the worlds best bbq! The banana leaves are not edible, so your'e going to have to unwrap the pork gently so flecks of the banana leaves don't get into the pork. It won't make you sick, it just doesn't taste any good either. After carefully lifting the pork butt out of the leaves, place in a large pan so you can spread it out and pull it. CAREFUL! Its going to be really hot, but you want to pull it while it is still hot so it falls apart easier. We like to use these tools called "bear paws" made by these genius BBQ guys in Utah. Once you burn your hands 1 time, its worth the $10 investment in a set of bear paws: https://bearpawproducts.com
When pulling the pork, here is our recommended process:
1. carefully remove pork butt from banana leaves