Mainland Kalua Pork (Giant Pork Roast Baked with Bananas!)
I have made no effort to hide my love (and obsession) with all things Hawaii. We have been to O'ahu twice now, and I just can't get over what a magical place it is. I know I will be going back to Hawaii many times in my lifetime. That said, getting to Hawaii is no small feat. The flight is nine hours, and the cost is really, really high. So... I need to make do with the bits of Hawaii that I can recreate in Chicago.
Kalua Pork is a classic Hawaiian dish. Made on the islands, the pig is roasted outside, in a special oven with lots of banana leaves. I have no special oven, and I don't usually keep banana leaves around, so I was beyond thrilled to find a mainland adaptation in one of my cookbooks. One Big Table is written by Molly O'Neill. O'Neill was the food writer for the New York Times Magazine throughout most of my childhood, and I have many fond memories of sitting at our dining room table to read her articles. In my house, she was also known as the sister of a pretty awesome baseball player.
Anyway, this recipe is super, super easy, and it comes from a man named Roy Balmilero. I love that he found clever ways to recreate the flavors of smoke and banana leaves. The whole family devoured this dish. It was amazing over sushi rice, and would be equally amazing the next day tossed in some barbecue sauce or salsa for leftovers. The pork shreds up just like pulled pork, so you can get pretty creative.
4-5 pounds boneless pork butt (we used a shoulder)
1-1/2 Tb. Hawaiian red salt (you can substitute kosher salt)
2 Tb. smoked paprika
4-5 unpeeled bananas (I'd use organic, as the pesticides in bananas are found in the peel)
large piece of aluminum foil
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Make some shallow cuts in the pork with a sharp knife and rub in the salt and paprika (it will seem like a lot, but you really want the flavor to soak into the meat). Place the bananas on top of the roast, and wrap the entire bundle in foil. Place it in a roasting pan. (Note: next time I'll add another layer or two of foil underneath the meat, as the juices created a bit of a mess in the pan.)
Roast the meat for 3-4 hours. Let it rest for about 20 minutes. Unwrap, shred, and serve with sushi rice and green veggies.
Enjoy this ono (delicious) dish!