Saturday, February 18, 2012
Kalua Pork Sliders
It's no secret that I love recreating my favorite restaurant meals at home. There's something insanely satisfying about knowing that I can make something just as delicious in my own kitchen as what some chef once created in an overpriced restaurant. It's like saying, "See! I can run with the big dogs too!" And we all need a little ego boost every now and then, right?
This meal in particular was inspired by the great folks at Ono Hawaiian Cafe right here in good old Boise, Idaho. This is the place where Dane and I celebrated our engagement-versary and the restaurant that catered our wedding! We had so many compliments on the food at our wedding... no one left hungry (as I've experienced personally at some weddings) and everyone agreed that the food was delicious. I'll be the first to tell you, it's worth every penny to have these guys cater your event!
Anyway, Ono has quickly become one of our very favorite restaurants. And every time we go we order the Kalua Pork Sliders for an appetizer, regardless of how hungry we are. They're simply too good to pass up! Salty, flavorful pork, sweet crispy onion straws, fluffy, Hawaiian rolls, and juicy pineapple... how can you say no to that? I'm telling you, the combination is downright crave-able.
Well, since we can't exactly afford to be eating out all the time, I decided to take it upon myself to recreate these bad boys at home. And judging by the non-stop "yum" coming from my husband and the decided lack of leftovers for the next day (despite ample amounts of food), I'm pretty sure I hit the nail on the head with this one. Seriously... they turned out so good! I could hardly keep from eating half the batch in one sitting, all by myself. And you guys won't believe how easy they were to make! It does take some planning ahead to allow the pork to roast low and slow, but otherwise the process couldn't be simpler. Almost too simple, because now I find myself wanting to make them like every other day. But alas, I must refrain, for I have no desire to look like a 300-pound Samoan guy.
But seriously... make these. Today. Thank me later.
Kalua Pork Sliders
inspired by recipe at Ono Hawaiian Cafe
12 King's Hawaiian sweet rolls, each split in half toasted
1/2 cup mayonnaise (optional)
1 recipe kalua pork (recipe follows)
1 recipe Maui onion straws (recipe follows)
1 small can pineapple chunks in 100% juice
1. Spread each half of the toasted rolls with 1 teaspoon of mayonnaise, if desired. Top one half of each roll with 2 tablespoons of pork and 1 tablespoon of onion straws, and top with the other half of the roll. Place one pineapple chunk on top of each roll and skewer with a toothpick to hold in place.
adapted from FoodNetwork.com
4-5 pound pork butt
3 tablespoons Kosher salt
2 tablespoons liquid smoke
2-3 banana leaves (optional)
1. Trim as much visible fat from the pork butt as possible. (Some say the fat adds flavor, but I find it's just as tasty and healthier without it.) Make several slashes all over the surface of the pork. Rub the salt all over the pork, ensuring salt makes into the slashes as well. Next, pour the liquid smoke all over the pork.
2. If using the banana leaves, prepare by removing the ribs. (I have prepared this pork both with and without the banana leaves and it turns out very well even without them. So don't fret if you can't find them.) Lay out a large piece of heavy duty foil and lay the banana leaves on this. Place the pork in the center of the leaves, and wrap. Cover the pork in more foil, creating as much of a water-tight seal as possible. Place in the bowl of a crock pot and fill with enough water to cover 2 inches up the side of pork. Cook for at least 6 hours, but the longer the better.
3. Once cooked, remove the pork from the crock pot, reserving the cooking liquid. Unwrap, and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Shred with 2 forks, place in a bowl, and pour about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid over the top. Toss to coat.
Maui Onion Straws
adapted from FoodNetwork.com
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 large sweet onion (Maui or Vidalia will do)
2 cups canola oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Thinly slice the onion, separate into individual "straws" and place in the milk mixture to soak.
2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan until it reaches 350 degrees F. Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in a large zip-top bag. Remove the onion from the milk mixture, shake off excess, and place into the bag with the dry ingredients. Shake to coat evenly.
3. Cover a cookie sheet with a layer of paper towels and place a wire cooling rack over the top. Once the oil has reached the proper temperature, place the onion, one small handful at a time, and fry until bubbles nearly stop and the "straws" are golden brown. Remove to the prepared rack and allow to cool. Continue to until all the onions have been fried.