You Just Can't Beat Hawaiian Barbecue!
Long ago, the ancient Hawaiians discovered barbecue independently... and their version is delicious
Sunday, March 09, 2014
If you've ever had proper Hawaiian barbecue, you've been blessed. Thousands of years ago, the ancient Polynesians brought their pigs along to the Hawaiian Islands, and since then their unique style of barbecue has evolved into something special.
If you haven't had it, prepare to be jealous - or even better, use this recipe to create your own Hawaiian-style feast!
You have to understand that up until the Europeans came, there were only two types of mammals in Hawaii: humans and pigs. Since birds and fish can get kind of old, pigs were basically the only other acceptable meat option.
A roast (kalua) pig is the culinary centerpiece of any luau, even today. While the long rice and haupia are nice, everyone looks forward to the uncovering and distribution of the pig, which is cooked in a big hole in the ground overnight.
Now, most of us don’t know how to cook in a hole in the ground, and that might be a little disfiguring to your petunia patch anyway. Luckily, you can cook Hawaiian-style roast pork in a smoker fairly easily.
Here's what you need for a homespun version of kalua pig:
A large pork butt, weighing 8-10 pounds
Sea or rock salt
Ten hours worth of charcoal
You need to be aware from the git-go that this process takes a long time. And if you don’t have any banana trees on hand, you can usually get the leaves at Asian or Latino markets.
Now, the actual procedure:
Sprinkle the salt on the pork, covering it thoroughly but not too thickly, then wrap the butt loosely in banana leaves. This is as far as traditional Hawaiians go, but you can then wrap the entire package in aluminum foil. This is a good idea if you want to keep the meat moist.
Once your charcoal is nice and hot, put the meat in the smoker. If you like, you can add some mesquite or hickory chips to the charcoal to add flavor. Although the Hawaiians use neither, mesquite is similar to native Hawaiian barbecue wood.
Try to keep the smoker temperature at about 230-240 degrees, adding wood chips and charcoal as necessary. Keep an especially close eye on it for the first few hours. Add more charcoal at eight hours, if necessary, and take the meat out of the smoker at the ten-hour mark.
Once you've lined a tray with your banana leaves, you can let the meat cool for about ten minutes before unwrapping it and shredding it with a big fork. Place it in the tray, and voila! Classic Hawaiian barbecue, ready for the eating!