Instructables

Hot Rock Kalua Pig

FeaturedContest Winner
In Hawaii they cook whole hogs underground with hot rocks and banana leaves. It's called Kalua Pig and it is Amazing. I set out to replicate this delicious and wonderful pork on a smaller scale in my backyard without having to dig a big ol' hole and cook an entire pig. In the process I built a dual purpose grill and hot rock BBQ.

The cooker is built from 2 dozen cinderblocks, dirt, rocks and a few other materials that you probably have on hand. With this inexpensive setup you will be able to have a two day Meatfest starting with your favorite grilled vittles and culminating in amazing Kalua pork.

Here is the disclaimer: This cooker involves heating rocks to a dangerous temperature and then covering them with potentially flammable vegetation and then leaving it unattended for many hours. If you are careless or unlucky you might burn up.

To build the cooker you will need:

24 CINDERBLOCKS - these cost me $30. This was the only thing I had to buy other than the pork.

1 STEEL OR IRON GRATE - must fit over the cooker. I borrowed one from a weber, but i didn't quite fit and I had to use a pipe to stabilize it. I bet an oven rack would be perfect!

DIRT - cheap! suitable locations for the cooker were not suitable for digging, but less conspicuous areas provided plentifully. I used one wheelbarrow full.

ROCKS - cheap or free. DANGER! USE CAUTION HERE!!! Some stones, especially those collected from a body of water could explode when heated. This might be bad for your health and livelihood. Fair Warning OK? Choose rocks sized between softball and cantaloupe. You want a couple dozen rocks.

PIECE(S) OF PLYWOOD - to cover the cooker during slow cooking. Serves to keep the heat in and keep out potential weather and varmints.

CLOTH - helps hold in the heat for slow cooking; I used an old bed sheet.

To operate the cooker you need:

FIREWOOD - You will burn wood to grill with but the most important thing is to thoroughly heat the rocks for slow cooking. It will take 3-4 hours for the stones to get hot enough.

GREEN LEAFY BRANCHES, PLANT STALKS OR SOAKED WOOD - You need enough to create a moist buffer layer between the hot stones and the pork. The authentic material is freshly cut banana tree stumps. It's wet and fibrous and doesn't burn up, so it creates tasty, smoky steam to cook the pork. In the Mid-Atlantic U.S. I had to use something more local and went with maple and hickory branches with the leaves still on. You could try some other materials too; any type wood that is used for cooking/smoking should work well here. I want to try corn stalks next.

BANANA LEAVES - This is to wrap and flavor the pork. I can get frozen banana leaves at the Latino market near my house for $1 a package. If you can't get banana leaves, you could use foil, but then it won't be Kalua Pig.

CHICKEN WIRE - optional - this helps to cradle and maneuver the pork but you could do without it...

THE MEAT THE MEAT THE MEAT - For day one, pick your favorite grilling foods; steaks, burgers, sausages, chickens, pork chops, lamb, bacon, offal and vegetables too!
For day two it's slow cooking and pork is king. Get a great big pork shoulder, with the skin on. I use the whole shoulder; it should weigh close to 20 pounds. You could do it with less, but it would seem like a lot of work for a little product. This oven is probably capable of cooking two or three whole shoulders if you wanted to. I haven't tried yet.
 
 
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Hi there,
Love your instructable. Thank you for the clarity of your write up.
We are going to try out this method of cooking and adapt it for the UK. Given I have a woodland full of oak trees and some seasoned ready for this project, I am going to use what i have this weekend. Oak is used to smoked bacon, so why not oak smoked pit baked pig!
Our pig is only 45lb, a Weaner really, so I am guessing same cooking times as your shoulder as it isnt any thicker i don't think and I just have to make the pit longer to accommodate the length.
This will be so much cheaper than hiring a spit roaster which with cleaning and delivery is £180. Any suggestions what could be used in place of the banana leaves would be helpful.
I plan to out apples and maple syrup inside to keep it moist given the absence of banana leaves? Foil?

I'm in England too and have done this using newly sprouted maple branches in an oven made of old bricks, dug partially into the ground. Amazing waking up after a heavy night of drinking round the campfire to a mate literally digging up your breakfast!

How was the hog?

anvilind8084 years ago
Mmm...all you need now is the lomi lomi salmon, squid luau and haupia!
Goesto11 (author)  anvilind8084 years ago
Yes! Lomi lomi salmon is very excellent. What is haupia? I'll skip the poi though!
tonnie Goesto114 years ago
Haupia is a pudding make of Coconut milk, cornstarch, sugar
For the open minded connoisseur, there's also Chocolate Haupia and Cinnamon Haupia! :D
Here you go check it out. What is Haupia? Not a whole lot of people enjoy poi. Its an acquired taste. But if you add some sugar to it, you'll probably like it first off. I'm getting hungry just writing about it now. LOL
xd12c4 years ago
 You may want to switch to a fire brick of some sort or something rated for a fireplace. I have had standard cinderblocks explode on me when used in a firepit. The repeated heating & cooling causes it.
vandal11385 years ago
I would have to say that the first step to great BBQ always starts with beer.
Goesto11 (author)  vandal11385 years ago
Barley pop is important to the middle and end parts too!
Barley pop. Never heard it called that before. Barley pop. I LOVE BARLEY POP. Lol.
Agreed! It seems that all great endeavors are significantly enhanced with malty goodness!
you can also use ti leaves (a hawaiian plant) and yes its spelled ti not tea you can also take the bone out and stuff it with banana/ti leaves or use a young pig and stuff it!
ahhhhh reminds me of hawaii
pikaj005 years ago
Congrats and awesome just awesome!
mikeasaurus5 years ago
<high fives>
way to go on the bbq contest win!
Goesto11 (author)  mikeasaurus5 years ago
Thanks! I gonna cook some pork to celebrate!
SNACKS5 years ago
What time did you start the cooking of the pig? if i want to eat at 7 then I need to start - day 1- fire @ 5 -day 1- eat @ 7 - day ? start pig @? day 2- Eat @ 7
Goesto11 (author)  SNACKS5 years ago
The fire must burn for 3-4 hours to heat the stones, during which time you may grill anytime once there are some good coals. Once the stones are heated red hot, you should allow the remaining flames to become coals, then add the pork. The pork cooks 12-14 hours, then should be removed from the cooker, but you could eat it later, provided you reheat it. The schedule you propose would probably go like this: Day 1 - Fire @ 5pm, Grill @ 7-8pm, then Start pig after Grilling about 9pm Day 2 - Remove pig between 9am and 11am. The Pork is then ready for lunch time the next day, but you can separate the meat from the skin and bone and reheat it for dinner later. I like to have friends over for grilling on a Saturday night, then throw a mid-day Kalua BBQ feast on Sunday.
Bitsi5 years ago
Stones, sticks and fire -- this looks like a lot of fun. Pit cooking has never seemed so possible. This might constitute the only downside of vegetarianism. Are there any non-meat foods that would benefit from 12-24 hours of cooking? A nice flavorful tree trunk or root maybe? Could this be adapted to fire ceramics?
NewB007 Bitsi5 years ago
You would need to use fire bricks (or similar) instead of cinder blocks, but the square configuration should work. You need up to about 1730°F (945°C), where the cinder blocks would lose strength and likely crumble. Beyond that, the specifics would depend on what you want to accomplish.
lesrebnav5 years ago
hello, here in my hometown (new caledonia) we do this for the meal at the family reunion and we add yam, taro and sweet potato or fish. We do another meal named "bougna" , it made with yam and coconout juice inside a lot aof banana leaves. bon appetit
This is great! You could almost have a two day party doing something like this. :D I love that you can get multiple meals out of the grill!
blam725 years ago
Well done, this is a great instructable. I've been telling my wife for a year now that I want to try something like this. Your instrutable looks like a great way to do. I'm getting hungry already.