Kalua pork is a staple in our house. We make it either in the slow cooker or in our smoker. We always made it in the slow cooker with liquid smoke and Hawaiian sea salt until we got our smoker, and now we make it more often in the smoker with banana leaves. Correction. My husband makes it in HIS smoker. If you don’t have a smoker you can still make the pork in the slow cooker, just omit the foil.
We use the pork to make these sliders often as well. Once the pork is cooked, it is so easy to reheat for a quick meal on a busy weeknight. My kids love these, and we even had them for Christmas Eve dinner last year for our Hawaiian Luau theme along with some Mai Tais for the grown-ups. The Hawaiian rolls are a must and so are the thin pickle strips.
You can find the banana leaves in any Asian or Mexican grocery store. Same with the guava paste for the BBQ sauce. I had a burger last year in Maui that had a guava BBQ sauce that was so delicious, I knew I needed to try to recreate at home. The sauce I came up with is really close to the sauce I had on that delicious Maui burger.
The secret to this sauce (besides the spiced rum) is letting it reduce, and then chilling at least 4 hours, up to overnight. The longer the better for the flavors to meld and for the sauce to thicken up. I based this Guava BBQ Sauce off my Piña Colada BBQ Sauce, and as you can see I have an affinity for tropical (and boozy) BBQ sauces.
Enjoy these delicious sliders and barbecue sauce with a cold beer or a Mai Tai!
Kalua Pork Sliders with Guava Rum BBQ Sauce Recipe
For the Pork:
- 4-5 pounds pork shoulder
- 3-4 tablespoons hawaiian alaea red sea salt
- banana leaf, thawed
For the BBQ Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/4 cup white onion, minced
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups guava paste, if in a block, soften and mash or dice
- 1/3 cup spiced rum
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce, or shoyu
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons chipotle pepper in adobo, you can add up to 2 tablespoons depending on how spicy you want the sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
For the Sliders:
- hawaiian rolls
- dill pickle strips
For the Pork:
Remove pork from refrigerator 1-2 hours prior to cooking and bring to room temperature. If the pork is still cold or partially frozen cooking time will be longer.
Preheat smoker to 250°F.
Generously salt all sides of pork with Hawaiian Alaea salt just prior to cooking.
Place pork in smoker and add wood chips according to smoker instructions. I use hickory wood chips but have also had good results with Applewood.
After 3 hours, remove pork from the smoker. Wrap in banana leaves and 2 layers of foil to seal in the moisture. Place the pork back in smoker. Check temperature after 3 hours, and every half hour after that, until it reaches 190-200°F.
Cooking times can vary anywhere from 6.5 to 9 hours, depending on size of the pork shoulder.
After pork has reached temperature, remove it from smoker and let it rest for at least 10 minutes. Remove pork from foil and banana leaves and shred, saving some of the juices.
If not using immediately, place shredded pork in a container with reserved juices and refrigerate. To reheat the pork, spread over a large baking sheet and heat in a 350°F oven until hot.
For the BBQ Sauce:
While the pork is smoking, make the sauce. In a medium saucepan heat the coconut oil and add the onion, sautéing until translucent, about 4 minutes.
Add the tomato paste, ginger, and garlic and cook, stirring well, for 1 minute.
Add the water, guava paste, spiced rum, rice vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice, honey, chipotle in adobo, and fish sauce and stir well until well mixed and the guava paste is fully melted.
Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring once in a while, until slightly reduced and thickened. Taste and add more chipotle in adobo if a spicier sauce is desired.
Let cool, then transfer to a glass jar or bowl with an airtight lid. The sauce tastes best after letting cool in the refrigerator at least 4 hours, but overnight is best for all the flavors to come together.
The sauce can be used cold or reheated, and lasts up to 2 weeks refrigerated or 3 months frozen.
To Assemble the Sliders:
Cut the Hawaiian rolls in half. Toast. Cut the pickle strips in half. Place a few on the bottom half of the bun.
Top with about 1/4 cup of kalua pork, add a tablespoon or two of the guava rum BBQ sauce, and the top half of the bun. Repeat until you have as many sliders as you would like to make.
Le Creuset 3-quart Stainless Steel Saucepan
Wusthof Santoku Knife - 5 inch