Tender, fatty, fall apart pork shoulder is one of life’s true treasures. (Am I being dramatic?)
The general rule with meat cuts is: the tougher the muscle, the more dynamic the flavor. A filet mignon is tender, sure, but is it interesting? No, not really. It’s the muscles that actually get used by the animal that have the most flavor. But the tenderness needs to be coaxed out. Traditionally, this is done with low, slow cooking. But what about those of us who are impatient? (me!) What if we don’t plan ahead and want dinner TODAY? (also me!)
Well. There’s a solution for us impatient poor planners. It’s called pressure cooking, and I promise you need not be afraid of it. I’ve been using my large, stove top pressure cooker for years to make bone broth. It’s by far my favorite method, and I’ve gotten great feedback from others who have tried it.
For the holidays last year, my mama got me an Instantpot, which is the amazing little contraption I used to make this here kalua pork in just 90 minutes. The nice thing about these guys is that they’re pretty foolproof- the temperature is regulated so you don’t have to play a guessing game with the temperature of your burner in relation to the steam inside.
It took me a while to take my new kitchen toy out of the box, and after I did, I just stared at it for a few days. (not straight, I did other things, too) Kitchen appliances that require pushing buttons make me feel funny. It’s one of the reasons I’m not a slow cooker user. But I’ve slowly been conquering my fear(?) and finding fun ways to use my Instantpot. This thing is quite the multi-tasker; it slow cooks and pressure cooks. It makes yogurt and rice. You can even turn the heat up in it to sear your meat right in the cooking chamber before you slow cook or pressure cook it. And the main reason I wanted it? I have plans to hack it for sous vide. Stay tuned for that adventure.
But for now, please enjoy this recipe for Kalua Pork. It’s super simple to make, and you can even skip the pineapple and smoky part- it’s delicious kept simple and unadulterated, too. As for me, I’ve been missing Hawaii ever since we got back from our honeymoon last month, and wanted those little reminders of it.
90 minute Kalua Pork
serves: 8-10 | prep time: 5 minutes | cook time: 1 hour 40 minutes
1 4-5 pound pork shoulder (I prefer bone-in, but boneless works too)
1 teaspoon salt (Hawaiian or sea salt)
1/2 cup diced pineapple (fresh or canned)
1 teaspoon fish sauce (I love Red Boat!)
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
1/2 cup water
- Season the pork with salt and add to the insert of your Instantpot along with the pineapple, fish sauce, liquid smoke and water. Lock on the lid and turn the valve to sealing.
- Cook at high pressure for 90 minutes.
- After 90 minutes, allow the steam to release naturally for 10-15 minutes, then turn the valve to venting.
- Remove the pork from the Instantpot and carefully pour out the juices into a jar. Pull the meat apart with two forks, removing any excess fat.
- Once the fat rises to the top of the jar, remove it with a small ladle and discard. Add some of the juices back to the pork, as desired. (I added about half.)
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