Thursday, February 2, 2012

Kalua pig in the slow cooker

The little pile on the left is the smoked salt grains

Slow cooker Kalua pig has quite a bit of notoriety among slow-cooker recipes. It's so simple yet so tasty: just get a huge pork roast, rub it with liquid smoke and [preferably Hawaiian sea] salt, and cook for a long time until meltingly tender. I've made it several times and it's always a hit. But what if someone doesn't want to use liquid smoke? A lot of people find the taste to be overpowering or artificial. Others are just skeeved out by the concept. So I decided to try it using a smoked salt. There is a local spice shop that stocks a ton of specialty salts, so I figured I'd stop by and try some out.

Check out my crappy cell phone picture of the wall-o-salts (okay, rack-o-salts). I had no idea that there was such a variety. I went ahead and tried a few. The French grey sea salt was really interesting in that it still had an ocean-y sea salt taste, and I loved the melty/crunchy texture of the flake salts like the pretty pink Murray River and the fleur de sel. I really want to try making homemade finishing salts with these (sausage with beer mustard and caraway finishing salt, anyone?). But I digress -- I was there on a mission for smoked salt. She recommended the alderwood but I much preferred the flavor of the applewood so I bought that. And a bottle of sherry vinegar. And some expensive vanilla extract. I, uh, might have bought some other spices too...

I have a problem.

But! The net result is that I have a ridiculously easy and wonderfully delicious pork recipe for you. I also loved sprinkling the individual plated servings with a little bit of the smoked salt for some extra flavor and crunch. Definitely cannot do that with liquid smoke!

Serves 12

  • 1 pork roast, approximately 6 lbs (Boston butt or picnic shoulder, bone out or in, doesn't matter)
  • 1.5-2 Tbs smoked sea salt such as Vspicery applewood smoked

Pierce the pork roast several times with the tip of a knife. Rub it with the smoked salt. Place in the slow cooker with the fat cap or skin side up. Cook on low for a long time (9-12 hours) or until very tender. Shred and serve. I like to accompany it with cabbage braised in the pork juices.


Melie said...

Awesome! I'm on the Anti-Candida Diet, so I can't do liquid smoke. I also love your Eastern North Carolina pulled pork. I make it once a month as my family loves it and the cider vinegar is 'legal' for me. I'll have to try this recipe instead this month. Thanks!

scarlette said...

Fabulous! This is yet another thing I will have to try. I haven't had anything like that since I lived in Hawaii...

Erica said...

@Melie: Good to know re: liquid smoke! I know that I have quite a few readers on the anti-candida diet.

@scarlette: Hopefully it is at least reminiscent of what you get in Hawaii ;)

Katie said...

Erica, thank you for sharing this recipe! I used it the other day and absolutely loved it. I’m a huge salt fanatic and recently stumbled upon a company located in Woodinville, WA called SaltWorks. They carry All-Natural sea salts so their smoked salts are ACTUALLY smoked with no added liquid "flavor". Here is a link to one of my personal favorites. I love the Bonfire!! Enjoy!

~Katie :)

Erica said...

Thanks for the link, Katie -- I'm such a sucker for specialty spices. This was my first experience cooking with smoked salt and it will definitely be a staple from now on. The flavor is so much nicer than liquid smoke.

Laura said...

I tried making this tonight but didn't have a lot of success. My pork tastes kind of bland :( Do you add anything else to it? I figure worst case scenario I can use it as a base for some other meals and freeze some for future meal bases.

Erica said...

Laura: I'm sorry to hear that it did not work out for you :( Did you use pork butt or picnic shoulder? It gets a lot of flavor from the extra fat (especially given that it's such a simple recipe) so if you used a lean cut like a loin roast I can see how it could be bland. I also used a very smoky flavorful smoked salt, if yours is smoke-flavored or a milder one perhaps that would be an issue. My husband ate some of the leftovers with my mustard barbecue sauce which could add some punch ( ) and I used some of the leftovers in an egg foo yung recipe ( ). Again, really sorry to hear that it did not work out for you.

Kate C said...

I want to try this recipe out but using ingredients I do have in my cabinet- liquid smoke and Hawaiian salt. How much of each would you suggest?

ps - Thanks in advance! I just stumbled on your blogged today after following a recipe link from the whole9 site. Can't wait to start trying out your recipes!

goatsandhounds said...

I know this is an old post... But... I described this to my Hawaiian husband and he said, "Yeah, but it's not Kiawe." A quick search for Kiawe-smoked salt came back with good results. So, for an authentic Kalua pig flavor, you might want to score some Kiawe salt. :)

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