Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hawaiian Luau - How to Pit Roast a Pig

Pit Cooking  In an Imu (under ground oven)

Tools and Items for the Job

LOTS - 8-10” diameter rocks for 2 layers on bottom of pit (WIT Landscaping) Pick and Shovel                                                                                                 
1-1/2 Pipe six foot length
Newspaper and kindling       
8 bundles Ti Leaves (available at Lumsden Florist etc.)                                                                                      
1/4 cord firewood
1 qt. Charcoal lighter fluid                                                                             
Machete or Sharp Knife
Heavy Leather gloves or oven mitts                                                                                                             
Post hole digger to pick up hot rocks (optional)
12 Burlap sacks soaking in a tub of water                                               
12x12 Canvas Tarp
Garden Hose                                                                                                     
Rock Salt (for seasoning)
3-1/2 x 5 Chicken wire                                                                                    
Large receiving tray for the kalua poaa
Large forks                                                                                                          
Serving pans or trays

1. Dig a pit approximately 7x5 Keep the pile of dirt on the opposite side of the pit you intend to work from. Remember the cleaner your work the easier it is. The depth should be 2-1/2 to 3 ft. 
2. Crumple newspaper and place on the bottom of imu. Add kindling on to of newspaper.  Position pipe in the center of the imu standing up and build firewood evenly in a 45 deg. angle around pipe as you would a bon fire. 
3. Carefully place rocks neatly on top of fire wood and around pipe.  Ready!

Poaa (the pig)
An 80 pound dressed pig will feed approximately 40-70 guests. Depending on what other entree dishes you serve. I will recommend a chicken and a fish dish as well.

Score the poaa with deep incisions in any of the thick parts such as the hams (thighs). If you have a tight schedule and need it to cook in 6 hours, then remove the spine from the neck to the hip. Season generously with rock salt.

You will need chicken wire to wrap your poaa in to be place in the imu. The chicken wire should be large enough to go around the poaa once. Remember, you will have to unwrap the kalua poaa and lose as little meat as possible so don’t over wrap!  Line the chicken wire with 8 bundles of Ti leaves, positioned so the pig will be surrounded by the leaves.  Be sure to have the open side of the pigs cavity is on the same side of the opening. You will be putting a couple of hot rocks into the cavity of the pig just before you put the basket into the imu. You can make other baskets for other items you would like to add such as whole turkeys, steamship rounds of beef, sweet potatoes etc..

Your Imu is now ready to be fired up! 2 hours to preheat the imu  plus 8 hours cooking time, total of 10 hours.
4am - 7am - Start fire, prepare the poaa
6am – 9am - Place the poaa into the Imu
10am - 5pm - Prepare other entrees, salads, desserts, etc.
5pm - 6pm - Set up Buffet. Unearth Kalua Poaa 
6pm - 6:30 - after showing, de-bone and pan the meat- place in chafing dishes on buffet.
7pm - Open buffet

Pit Roasting Continued....
Now would be a good time to have all your tools and items ready sorted out and organized close to the imu. Cut the banana tree trunks cut into 2 lengths. Cut those pieces in quarters lengthwise. Use your sledge hammer to flatten them a bit. Neatly stack them near the imu. Wash off the banana leaves with water and stack them near the flattened stumps. The burlap sacks should be clean. Soak them in a tub and have them near the imu also. The following tasks should be done fairly quickly so too much of the heat from the imu is not lost. It should take about a half hour by time the imu is sealed.

Into the Imu
Once the Imu is ready to be fired up, get out the charcoal lighter fluid and pour the 1 pint bottle down the pipe and remove the pipe. Carefully drop a lit match into the hole where the pipe came from. Charcoal lighter fluid lights easily and doesnt explode so it is pretty safe, I wouldnt use anything else.

After 2 hours of burning the rocks should have fallen lower in to the imu. Using a post hole digger or a shovel, even out the hot rocks so to form a bed that your poaa will eventually be situated on.

Put the poaa that is already in the chicken wire on your canvas tarp next to the imu. Open up the cavity and season generously with rock salt. Place about four hot rocks into the cavity of the pig. Close up the wire with a couple of pieces of bailing wire.  We ran a steel rod through the wire to use as a handle to lift the pig in/out of the fire.

Put a layer of the wet burlap on the hot rocks followed by a layer of banana leaves (if you have extra). Place the wrapped poaa on top and cover the poaa with another layer of soaking burlap sacks.  Cover the whole imu with the canvas tarp.

Starting around the edges of the tarp, cover with the dirt. Then cover the rest of the tarp evenly. Try not to put too much dirt on the middle of the tarp so you wont have a hard time taking it off.

The hose will be needed to spray the imu with water after it is covered to create a good seal, and also to check for any smoke that could be escaping from the imu. If any smoke is detected then you must cover it with more dirt.

 If smoke is not covered, a fire may start in your imu and you will lose your kalua pig (baked pig), and all your hard work will be for nothing. Once you have covered any leaks, then shoot it down once again with water.  Now you have 8 hours to prepare the rest of your menu.

Out from the Imu
You should have a large tray to receive the basket of kalua poaa. There will be alot of grease from the poaa so be prepared to drain it somewhere. Have a bucket of water handy to dip your hands in occasionally to cool your hands while handling the hot rocks, basket etc. You will also need some large forks to shred the meat and remove the bones. Have your pans that you will be serving the kalua poaa from handy so you can transfer it into after the bones are removed and the meat is shredded.

The time has come to remove the kalua poaa from the imu. Remove the dirt from the tarp, taking care not to puncture the tarp. Roll back the tarp towards the back of the imu. Remove the burlap sacks. Carefully remove the basket and place it on your receiving tray on top of your work table. Open the basket and remove the rocks that are inside the basket. Turn out the kalua poaa from the basket into the tray.  Take pics and show the cooked pig.

Using the forks, shred all the meat and remove all the bones. Season with salt.Transfer the meat into your serving pans. It is ready to go to your buffet! Now go and enjoy the fruits of your labor. As the Hawaiians say suck em up!

Wait a couple of days before you clean up the imu, to make sure the fire is out.  Save the rocks. 

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