Kalua pork/pig is delicious and nutritious! It is traditionally an entire pig, roasted in an Imu (Hawaiian pit oven dug into the ground) that gained popularity as a Luau food at hotels in the Hawaiian Islands, but was historically a centerpiece dish, reserved for Hawaiian royalty at large feasts and celebrations. It is typically covered in banana and ti leaves. Today, we can enjoy the taste of this royal dish any time, with a pork shoulder/butt roast, roasted low and slow in your oven, or even easier, cooked in your Instant Pot.
There are many IP Kalua Pig recipes on the internet, however many of them have a long list of ingredients and additions. A good Kalua pork requires only pig, salt and liquid smoke to impart that smoky flavor that you lose when you don’t bury it in the ground. That’s it. The result of sticking to these simple ingredients is a virtually carb free, perfectly salted taste sensation.
While most folks still eat rice to accompany this dish, I don’t bother with rice anymore. Instead, stir fry some cabbage on the side, or better yet, mix the cooked pork right into your wok with the cabbage and make Kalua pig and cabbage. Then throw a fried egg on top. Delish!
4 lbs boneless pork shoulder/butt roast
Alaea Red Hawaiian Sea Salt
Cut pork shoulder, untrimmed of fat, into 2 inch cubes and place in your Instant Pot.
Notice I don’t give a quantity of liquid smoke. Just sprinkle enough liquid smoke to moisten over the pork and rub it in.
Notice too that I don’t give a quantity of sea salt. Just grab a handful of salt and rub it all over the moistened pork. Rub it in there. Now grab a pinch or two more and rub it in for good measure.
Add a quarter cup of water to your Instant Pot and set it on high pressure for 40 minutes. After cycle has completed, allow pressure to release naturally.
Remove Kalua pig from Instant pot with a slotted spoon and shred with two forks. Serve!
Kalua pork keeps and freezes very well. To reheat, throw it (including it’s cold fat/juice) in a hot wok or sauté pan, stirring constantly, until heated through.
This recipe produces highly flavorful pork carnitas that don’t contain the sweet citrus fruit, thereby reducing the overall carb count. My favorite way to enjoy carnitas is inside “Keto Street Tacos”, which is simply all the ingredients of a good street taco, stuffed inside a big leaf of lettuce. Think hot sauce, diced onion, chopped cilantro, sliced jalapeño, sliced red radish, pickled cabbage and crumbled Cotija cheese. Yum.
The nutritional information provided is for the carnitas only. If you count carbs, any of your toppings should be calculated separately. Also, please not that I’ve calculated the serving size as a half pound of carnitas- that’s a lot! I think I can put down between a quarter to a third pound before I get super stuffed.
4 lbs boneless pork shoulder/butt, cut into 2 inch chunks
2 tbsp softened lard or avocado oil
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp garlic powder
½ tbsp ground coriander seed
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp Mexican oregano
½ tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp lime juice
1 cup chicken broth, sweetener free
Break down pork shoulder roast into 2 inch cubes
In a separate large bowl, combine all the spices and the lard or oil to create a spice rub/paste.
Add pork chunks to the spice rub/paste and toss to coat pork with the rub.
Add the spiced pork, chicken broth and lime juice to your Instant Pot.
Set your Instant Pot to high pressure for 40 minutes. After timer goes off, allow natural pressure release.
Remove pork from Instant Pot and place on a baking tray. Shred the pork with two forks, then pour small amount (just to moisten) of juices from the instant pot over the pork. Spread pork in an even layer and place for just five minutes in a 450 degree oven to crisp the pork. Serve immediately.
Carnitas can be made ahead and refrigerated for a few days or even frozen. If making ahead, don’t crisp the carnitas. Just pack the carnitas away with a little of the left over liquid and store them away, then crisp them when you’re ready to eat them. I’ve even crisped them on a griddle over a camp fire while in the wilderness!