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Monday, 16 January 2012

Hawaii 5-0-My-God Pulled Pork

To really do this recipe right you need a big fire, a large pit and about 6 hours of free time. Fortunately, to do it well enough all you need is an oven and about 4 hours, which is a good thing for those of us who live in condos and have day jobs but still want to enjoy pulled pork.  However, I highly recommend using the fire pit method at least once in your life because it's really fun, all your friends will remember it, and you get to use a shovel as a cooking tool!

As the name suggests, the key to making this dish great is pineapple.  Aside from making fantastic head dresses, pineapples have some of the best meat tenderizing properties you'll ever find.  They get this amazing property from two sources, the first is a high acid content and the second, more potent source, is a collection of proteolytic enzymes commonly called Bromelain.

These enzymes are so effective they are used as the main ingredient in most commercial meat tenderizers and even some pharmaceuticals.  However, they're only present in fresh pineapple as they break down under heat.  What's more, they are much more common in the core and stem than in the fruit, so you'll want to buy an actual pineapple and not just some juice or one of those pre-peeled and cored numbers.  The side benefit is that the pineapple top makes a fabulous table garnish!

1 pork shoulder (~0.5lb/person)
1 pineapple peeled and roughly chopped but not cored
2 large onions, chopped (one for the pork, one for the sauce)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp grated ginger
3 cloves of garlic
4 cups orange or pineapple juice
1 cup chicken stock or duck stock
2 packages banana leaves
2 tbsp hoisin sauce

Ingredients for Challah and Jicama coleslaw

Using a chef's knife, open several large cavities in the pork shoulder and stuff them with about half the pineapple including all of the bits of core and the first onion.  Place the pork in a large non-reactive container and add half of the remaining pineapple, 1 tablespoon of hoisin, and 2 cups of the juice and refrigerate for 6-24 hours.  I do this in the plastic vaccum bag that my butcher wraps the shoulder in which is handy.

If cooking the pork in the oven, banana leaves are optional but will add an element of festive authenticity. If cooking the pork in a fire pit, you'll definitely want to wrap it well in several layers of banana leaves. Remove the pork from the fridge and wrap it so that no pork shows through.  This can be very tough to do as the banana leaves have a nasty tendency to rip, thus I recommend having two packages of leaves on hand.  If using the fire pit method, wrap the shoulder in at least three layers of leaves as the outer two are likely to burn through and use uncoated bailing wire to tie it all up. If you`re cooking the pork in an oven or on the BBQ, butcher twine should be just fine to secure the leaves.

If you're cooking this the oven or on the BBQ, place the pork in a roasting pan and cook for roughly 4 hours at 300F, uncovering for the final half hour.

If you're going authentic, dig a hole roughly double the size of the pork shoulder in dry dirt or sand.  In your hole, build a bonfire out of hardwood and let it burn down so that you've got a pile of coals at least the size of the pork itself (this will likely take a couple of hours so start early). Dig a well in the coals, nestle your little porcine package into it with your shovel and cover with more coals.  Cook for about 3-4 hours.  Unless your original bonfire was particularly epic, you'll need to keep another fire going beside the coal pit for pretty much the whole day so that you can continuously replenish the coals as they peter out.  As such, I'd recommend getting yourself a good friend, a comfortable deck chair and about 24 beers.

While the pork is cooking, saute the garlic, ginger, and remaining onions until the onions are caramelized.  Add the remaining 2 cups of juice, stock, brown sugar, remaining hoisin and pineapple slices and simmer until reduced by 2/3rds. The sauce is ready when it coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and set aside.

T-Moo and I serve this on tiny Challah knots and top with jicama and red cabbage coleslaw with a lime dressing.  I batch of Challah dough makes about 24 slider-sized buns. Make the dough as directed and then tie small knots out of it instead of making a big braid.

Dig the pork out from the coals or remove it from your oven/BBQ and let rest for 10-15 minutes in a roasting pan.  Unwrap the banana leaves and discard.  Shred the pork using two forks (sterilized garden tools actually work way better than forks) and add the BBQ sauce.  Serve on Challah buns and top with coleslaw.


  1. This is my kind of dish! Love pulled pork! And I could pretty much add pineapple to anything and be happy.

    1. Glad to hear you like it Brilynn. Pineapple does make everything better!