Hukilau is This Weekend: How to Roast a Hog Hawaiian-Style

Hukilau is This Weekend: How to Roast a Hog Hawaiian-Style

Fort Lauderdale draws visitors from across the world for any number of reasons. Throughout the winter, tourists come in droves to enjoy to mild weather, sunshine, and great beaches.

Unfortunately, the nice weather and large supply of tourists dried up a few weeks back.

Luckily, this weekend the annual Hukilau, a three day tiki event is coming to town. And it's bringing in a massive tiki- and luau-loving crowd.

With that in mind, we decided to drum up some advice on a DIY luau themed party. We spoke to native Hawaiian and chef of the Sybarite Pig, Suzanne Cochard, about pig roasting Hawaiian-style.

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"The traditional Hawaiian roasted pig is known as 'Kalua' pork, meaning it has been cooked in an underground oven, an 'imu'," said Cochard. "Digging the pit and layering it with the proper vegetation and earth required a lot of hands. The oven was built to suit the amount of food to be cooked and was loaded with parcels of chicken and fish, as well as vegetables to have an entire meal for the community."

Hawaiians used tinder and wood, usually from the kiawe tree -- similar to Mesquite. The oven was comprised of smooth river stones, banana plants, leaves, coconut fronds and Hawaiian ti leaves. Once the food was placed in the dug out oven, green leaves were layered on top, which were then covered with woven mats and cloth. Dirt was placed over all of the layers.

Aside from the manual labor, the cooking process itself is fairly simple. The pit needs to be dug with sloping sides to prevent the hog from getting dirty. Steam from the vegetation creates a perfectly moist and somewhat earthy finished product.

So here's how you're going to do it...


Step One: Dig out a wide, sloping pit. You'll probably want some assistance. We suggest bribing your friends with Luau cocktails -- or beer, whatever.

Step Two: Use some tinder -- basically, some dry highly flammable substance like dried kindling -- and organic charcoal, which is not infused with accelerant, to start a fire at the bottom of the pit.

Step Three: As the charcoal is heating up add some river rocks or common bricks. Push the rocks and charcoal around to create a level surface. The rocks need to get extremely hot to sufficiently steam the hog. Cochard warns, "Do not use any rock that has moisture imbedded within as it will burst."

Step Four: Get enough green vegetation to layer on the top and bottom of the hog. Cochard suggests the green trunk of banana plant, coconut fronds, corn husks soaked in water, and broad leaves from a banana and ti plant. "You can really use anything as long as it is not toxic and will not impart any flavors you do not enjoy, such as rethinking the use of cabbage," she says.

Step Five: Place the bottom layer of vegetation in the pit. To make extracting the hog easier on yourself, you can lay a large piece of chicken wire on top or the vegetation. Make sure you do not use galvanized or coated wire.

Step Six: Season the pig with a moderate amount of sea salt or a more liberal amount of kosher salt. According to Cochard, "Sea salt is much saltier than kosher or table salt."

Step Seven: Place the hog in the hole. Throw in whatever accompanying items you wish. Cochard suggests whole sweet potatoes, plantains, corn. The accompanying veggies -- or meats, even -- can be wrapped up in aluminum foil. If the boar is really large, you can place hot rocks from the fire in the cavity to speed up the cooking process.

Step Eight: Cover the pig with the additional vegetation and a mat that is large enough to stretch over the edge of the pit. You want to make sure extra dirt does not fall into the hole. "Burlap sacks, canvas mats, tightly woven rugs, even flattened cardboard or a tarp can be used to cover the entire imu," says Cochard.

Step Nine: Cook for 6 to 8 hours. If you're looking for an expedited method, smaller cuts of the pig, such as the shoulder or leg can save a few hours of cooking time.

Step Ten: Dig the hog out. Check to make sure it has reached an inner temperature of 145 degrees. Let it rest. And dig in.

You have successfully pulled off an authentic Hawaiian pig roast.

Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.

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