Slow Cooker Kalua Pork Tacos

Slow Cooker Kalua Pork Tacos bring the taste of Hawaii to our homes with the ease of a slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Kalua Pork TacosPlans were to post this recipe for Slow Cooker Kalua Pork Tacos yesterday. My ‘typical’ schedule has me set posts to publish at 4am but the past two weeks of moving have eradicated any schedule completely.

I had done my due diligence and worked feverishly to get several posts done early so that I could continue to provide recipes for all of you during this move but you know ‘best laid plans’ and all right?

A delay in closing saw those get used prior to the move so I’ve had some downtime on the blog and that’s not all bad. Yesterday was to be the start of getting back in the groove and then I got a phone call from my sister with the news of my father’s passing.

jack-batheSo this post is my tribute to John Gregory Bathe; called Jack by everyone who knew him. This is my favorite photo of my Dad; one I have framed and that I will treasure forever; his service to our country as a pilot during WWII was nothing less than heroic and I don’t ever want that to be forgotten.

Yes, we are sad, in that way you are when you know you won’t see a loved one again but the truth is that overriding our feeling of sadness is one of gratitude; even joy.

He had lived 91 years without bouts of serious illness but the last few years his arthritis was a constant source of pain. When he fell a little over a year ago and was transported to the hospital, it was the first time he had ever been admitted to one.

I mean, who can say that? Luckily no bones were broken but a decision was made that it was time for him to go into an assisted living facility and that was sort of the beginning of the end. And you know what?

He was ready. No longer able to play golf; almost all of his friends gone he just knew the time was coming and I wish everyone could just recognize that as willingly as my dad did; it certainly made that final transition easier for his family.

When I started this post it had no bearing on what was to come but my mind has been going over a lot of memories of my dad; as you can imagine and I was taken back many years to days when ‘Dad’s home!’ brought special meaning to this tomboy sort of girl.

I’m originally from St. Louis and I grew up with Cardinals. Both the baseball team and the football team were the Cardinals. My father loved both. I admit I loved baseball more…oh the statistics I could cite. Throughout middle and high school I knew every stat and acronym imaginable; RBI, ERA…you name it and I knew it for EVERY player on that team (players with names like Gibson and Brock too!).

Going to a baseball game with a family of our size was almost unimaginable but I remember so vividly waiting for him to come home every day so I could grab the paper he brought home with him. I quickly flipped to the sports section and my beloved Cardinals…it was one of our bonding moments to talk about the boys in red and white.

He was more of a football guy and I know he loved those Cards better but he always played along with my fervor if nothing else! I remember how fiercely I wanted the St. Louis Rams to win the Super Bowl a few years ago; giving him something that St. Louis had never seen with the Cardinals.

So I hope he’ll return the favor and root for my team this weekend. I wonder how many recliners there are in Heaven…bet they’re all booked now! Godspeed Dad; you will be missed. If you were here…this might be a dish I know you would love!

broncosTrue confession time. I’m actually a Broncos wannabe this year. I admit; I left the team, turned my back and gave them up for, if not Lent, at least for a movie on Sunday. I was as fanatic as anyone for years; especially during the Elway heyday when we won two Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998.

After Elway retired there was a string of less than memorable quarterbacks which led to less than memorable seasons and I drifted far away. Guess what? I’m baaaack!!! And so is the need for some football food and drink; game day would not be the same without it and this season my Broncos are playing the New England Patriots on Sunday in the AFC Championship on the road to Super Bowl.

colquittWhat changed? If you guessed Peyton Manning that might have something to do with it now but in truth it was a much less well known player named Britton Colquitt. I met Britton, his wife and new baby one day when I was out working in my front yard the summer of 2011.

Just a sweet young couple with a new baby taking a walk through the neighborhood; they had recently moved into the home up the street. We chatted about his family, where he was from (there is an accent that was a giveaway of somewhere in the south) and it wasn’t until I asked that I discovered he worked for the Broncos.

You know…as a player! I was so impressed with his sweet demeanor and as much as anything the huge respect he displayed for Coach John Fox, the Broncos head coach since 2011.  I left our visit with a renewed desire to see how the boys were doing and it seems they were doing just fine.

Peyton Manning

Still there is the Peyton Manning thing. It’s no secret what a great quarterback this man is but he’s won me over more because of his demeanor. Not a big braggart, he’s more of a quiet leader who just gets the job done.

Well, quiet unless you saw his rap video with his brother…yes, I died. This recording of his comments at a recent press conference were typical. This explained Omaha? Yeah, sure it did. I love his droll sense of humor and I sort of love this guy. Enough so that when a homeless cat became mine, I christened him Peyton…after all, he was orange.

kalua-pig2

OK, enough about football…how about some of that food Barb? I first made Slow Cooker Kalua Pork Tacos a couple of years ago after a friend had traveled to Hawaii and marveled at the amazing pig roast they had attended; she of course wanted to know if I could re-create the ‘Kahlua Pork’ they had enjoyed and I was on it.

First things first? It’s Kalua Pig and has absolutely nothing to do with a coffee flavored liqueur. OK, we got this! I wasn’t in the mood to dig a pit in my yard either; our HOA at the time was lax but I was thinking probably not that lax. Although I still think I should have tried chickens!

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Cooked low and slow in the ground; well, the best way I could imagine low and slow in my kitchen was with a crockpot. And a quick search found that this was not a unique idea. As a matter of fact, this simple pork is so good that trying to make it too unique would mess up something perfectly wonderful. Pork, Hawaiian Pink Salt and Liquid Smoke. I admit…I add a bit of bacon on the top and bottom…the pork butts from Costco were so lean I thought a bit of fat was necessary…flavor wasn’t half bad either. 🙂

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I’ve kept it plain and simple and added nuances of flavor with both a pineapple and macadamia nut coleslaw and a tangy barbecue sauce. Elements of tangy and sweet with a bit of heat seemed perfect served with this pork; for friends who might like a bit more of that heat business, I’ll be sure to have some Srirachi at the ready!

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This pork is really more miracle than pork. A measly couple of ingredients and a lot of hours cooked on low heat yields something amazing. I had to pry my fingers away from the fork and stop taste testing…especially after one bite told me it was perfect! The pineapple coleslaw was simply my desire to bring something tropical to a rather plain side dish and well, the sauce? I simply love making sauces so of course I did…adding together brown sugar, pineapple juice and a hit of srirachi was pretty perfect if you ask me.

I’ve included some more great football food and drink for your eating and drinking pleasure. And hey, if you’re on the fence about who to root for? Try this on, it’s easy to say, ‘GO Broncos!” Thanks…much appreciated!

Slow Cooker Kalua Pork Tacos
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Slow Cooker Kalua Pork Tacos…and More Football Food and Drinks!

Bring the tangy taste of Hawaii home with this Kalua Pork...make it in your slow cooker!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time10 hrs
Total Time10 hrs 20 mins
Course: Pork
Cuisine: American
Keyword: kalua, pork, slow cooker
Servings: 10
Calories: 598kcal
Author: Creative Culinary

Ingredients

For the Kalua Pork

  • 6 pounds pork butt
  • 8-10 slices of bacon
  • 1 ½ Tbsp Hawaiian Pink Salt if unavailable use a good sea salt
  • 1 ½ Tbsp Liquid Smoke

For the Pineapple Coleslaw

  • 1 package Cole Slaw Mix oh yes I did!
  • 1 20 oz can pineapple chunks drained (reserve the juice)
  • ½ cup toasted macadamia nuts coarsely chopped (optional)

For the Coleslaw Dressing

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon dry ginger
  • 2 Tbsp reserved pineapple juice
  • ½ tsp salt

For the Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • ½ medium onion diced
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 10 oz Ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp of the reserved Pineapple juice
  • ½ tsp Chipotle Chile Pepper dried (sub Cayenne if necessary)
  • 1 Tbsp Liquid Smoke
  • 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Molasses
  • 1 tsp Sriracha sauce

Instructions

To Make the Kalua Pork

  • Turn Crockpot to low setting
  • Layer 4-5 slices of bacon in the bottom of a crockpot
  • Rub the pork butt with the Liquid Smoke and Sea Salt and place it on top of the bacon.
  • Cover the pork butt with 4-5 more slices of bacon.
  • Cover and cook for 10-12 hours.
  • The pork is done when it literally falls apart. Remove it from the crockpot to cool slightly.
  • Shred the pork using your hands or two forks to pull it apart. DO NOT put it back into the liquid in the pot; it's very salty.
  • If more moisture is required, add a bit of the pot liquid to the pork.
  • Serve with barbecue sauce for sandwiches or tacos or we also love it served in lettuce wraps with rice and a homemade teriyaki sauce (coming next week!).

For the Pineapple Slaw

  • Put the contents of the slaw and carrot package into a large bowl with the pineapple chunks and macadamia nuts..
  • Combine all of the remaining ingredients and pour the dressing over the ingredients in the bowl; mix gently until just combined.

For the Barbecue Sauce

  • Put the olive oil in a medium pot; add the onion and saute until soft. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and cook for an additional minute; do not let the garlic brown.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool slightly before using.

Nutrition

Calories: 598kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 54g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 169mg | Sodium: 1017mg | Potassium: 1206mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 221IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 4mg

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18 Comments

  1. Fantastic recipe! It is wonderful, because it is (1) easy, (3) people are likely to have most of the ingredients already, (3) outrageously tasty, and (4) fun to eat. This is definitely going on my short list of ‘go-to recipes.’ Here are some notes: (1) I don’t like to cooking with liquid smoke; so, I omitted it, and the recipe was still wonderful! (2) There was too much dressing for the coleslaw for my taste. So, I added another slaw and carrot package to get the dressing to veggie ratio to my liking and then it was perfect (for me)!

  2. Hi Barb! I am so sorry about your Dad and I can completely relate to your feelings of both sadness and joy – truly the sign of a well lived life!
    That Kalua Pork is definitely up my alley – thinking this is the perfect dish to make with the craziness that is about to descend upon us – i.e. my teaching schedule and Lacrosse!!!
    I LOVE all the elements in this one – the pork, the coleslaw (beyond mouthwatering!!) and the sauce… oh yes, I am definitely gonna be trying this one!!!

  3. Barbara, I’m so sorry. We really feel for you over here, we lost my grandmother – my mom’s beloved mother – early this year and it left a big hole. Sending you and yours lots of well-wishes and good thoughts

  4. It’s never easy to lose a parent and even when they die at an advanced age and we’re no longer spring chickens ourselves, there is that awful sense of loss. It’s wonderful to see his photo and learn what a fantastic man he was. His service to his country as a pilot was selfless and inspiring but his service to his country by bringing up wonderful children is even more important.

    I’m in love with your pork tacos. I really want to make these.

  5. I am so sorry to hear of your father’s passing. I know it gives you great comfort to know that he lived a very full life and was ready to go. My grandfather was 91 when he passed away several years ago and like your father there wasn’t anyone left that he had known for more than a couple of years. He missed everyone that had gone before him. My greatest sympathy to you and your family.

  6. Hi Barb, I am truly sorry to hear of the loss of your dad but I am comforted knowing that your dad is out of pain and in a better place. It sounds like his was a life well-lived as he obviously meant a lot to his family.

    This pork takes me back to the pig roast I attended when we lived in Hawaii. What an event! And to think the same flavor can be created in a crock pot sounds perfect.

    Hope to see you soon. Holly

  7. My sincere condolences to you and your girls on the passing of your Dad and their grandfather. You remembered him so lovingly in this post Barb and your tribute to him touched the hearts of many of us. Know your family will be remembered in my prayers. Much love and hugs to you.

  8. Barbara, sincerest sympathies on the passing of your dear father… he sounds like a wonderful man and I love that you are celebrating his (long) life. I’m amazed that you are still managing to post a recipe, but I do love the tribute to your father, and that photograph is the best!

    Love your recipe too. Sending hugs. xox

  9. It was so nice to read about your Dad and I loved that photo of him. My Dad was in the Signal Corps in WWII and I need to dig a photo out of him too…I am so glad for you that he moved through this period of his life with grace. Wishing you peace throughout your mourning process, I will be thinking of you. Your recipe looks just wonderful too 🙂

  10. So sorry to hear about your father! My dad is 93 so I know his time is near too, but that will be a sad day, as I know this is for you. Anyway, glad to see you back posting! Although a break now and again is a good thing. I’m thinking I may be doing one of those at some point. Great recipe! I love pork tacos, and these look wonderful. Thanks.

  11. Go Broncos! and Go Jack Bathe! My dad’s up there and I’m sure always on the lookout for another Cardinal junkie. We go way back to the Musial days, Daddy and I. Peace, Barb.

  12. Hugs and Prayers! Even though we all know our parents are going to go, nothing ever prepares us for the deep sorrow and pain when they go. Many Hugs! May he be in eternal peace!

    And that Kalua pork might just make me change my mind about being a vegetarian! It has been tempting me ever since it was being cooked in the slow cooker.

    Go Broncos!!

  13. Hi Barb – So sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing. Was great to read all about him. I too went to all the Cardinal baseball games with my dad. I have a whole wall in our house devoted to St. Louis. The Arch, Forest park Highlands etc.
    I too am getting ready for super bowl…making chili etc.

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