Hawaiian Style Pulled Pork Two Ways
We love island style food in our house and pulled pork is a big one! When I lived in Hawaii, they would dig a pit, put the big in with hot coals, and let in slow cook in the ground for hours. Since my hubby doesn't want me tearing up his backyard, I used a slow cooker for our pulled pork. Traditional kalua pork is just well seasoned and smoked. My hubby likes his saucy so I have both sets of instructions for pork below. If your family likes bbq sauce like my husband on meats go with the saucy version. If you're more of a well seasoned family go with the traditional route.
Pulled pork is super easy. You have a few options for cuts of meat: loin or shoulder/butt. The loin will be less fatty and therefore a little tougher (and not as flavorful in my opinion). Shoulder or butt have plenty of fat that will render down while cooking for 10-12 hours and tenderize the meat. The result is a melt-in-your-mouth product with huge flavor that falls apart as you shred it. A 2-3 lb loin or shoulder - bone in or bone out is fine - will serve 4-6 people. If you're having a big gathering I would go for a 5 lb shoulder.
For traditional kalua pork you only need two ingredients. Seasoning salt and liquid smoke. I found an amazing Himalayian Pink salt grinder with pepper, garlic and other spices at King Soopers. Liquid Smoke comes in a variety of flavors and is sold at many local grocery stores - we like the mesquite scent/flavor. Liberally season all sides with seasoning salt then douse with liquid smoke. Give the meat a massage if you're not too squemish to get the seasoning and smoke into all the crevasses. Cook in the slow cooker for 10-12 hours on low heat. I used a crock pot liner to minimize the mess and power through clean-up!
For a saucier option, season as above with your favorite seasoning salt then using any bbq sauce of choice and completely cover the top of the pork. I used Sweet Baby Ray's Hawaiian Style BBQ sauce for this pulled pork. I have used a variety of different sauces from different companies. Sweet Baby Ray's is a winner hands down. There is a huge variety of flavors of bbq sauce, wing sauce, honey mustard, marinades, and dipping sauces. We have tried a variety of them and have never been disappointed. I was first introduced to this brand on the hot sauce rail of the restaurant my dad used to own. It always has a spot in our fridge now! After saucing your pork, cook as above. Shred with two forks and mix back into the sauce/juices in the bottom of the slow cooker. Allow to sit and reabsorb all that amazing flavor for 10-20 minutes and serve. That's some good pork.
To keep with the island theme, I used mini King's Hawaiian sub rolls which have the sweet flavor of Hawaiian rolls but a fun new shape. You can top the sandwiches with french fried onions (my hubby's favorite), chopped/sliced pickles, or any favorite condiments. You can also eat this pulled pork on its own like I do to skip the carbs. Give it a try and tell me what you think! It's a great recipe for gatherings or a new addition to the week night rotation.