Back-to-school meals are easy with kalua pork

August 26, 2014

By Maria Nelson

Back-to-school time almost always means busy, manic schedules.

To make it easier each year, I gravitate toward easy-to-throw-together meals originating with a slow-cooked main, so leftovers easily morph later in the week into quickly prepared meals using few, simple and delicious ingredients.

Kalua Pork is a family favorite and an absolutely wonderful way to make many great meals fast. Below are some recipes to help you answer that endlessly asked and panic-inducing question, “What’s for dinner?”

Kalua Pork recipe

1, 6-ounce pork should roast, bone in

2 tablespoons coarse red Hawaiian or other coarse salt

2 teaspoons liquid smoke

Place pork in a slow cooker, and pour liquid smoke over the top. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the top. Do not add any water. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 9 hours.

Remove from the slow cooker, discard the bone and shred the meat into bite-sized pieces. Serve in lettuce wraps or on rolls. Save the remaining pork for Hawaii Pork Pizza, Tortilla Soup or Smoked Pork Enchiladas.


By Maria Nelson Kalua pork lettuce wraps are just one way to prepare a Hawaiian-themed back-to-school lunch.

By Maria Nelson
Kalua pork lettuce wraps are just one way to prepare a Hawaiian-themed back-to-school lunch.

Kalua Pork Lettuce Wraps

Serves 4

1-2 heads butter or red leaf lettuce

4 servings sticky rice

½ cup thinly sliced carrots

1 bunch cilantro

Thinly sliced jalapeños

1 pound pulled Kalua Pork

Sweet chili sauce or hoisin sauce, optional

Separate and wash leaves of lettuce; layer each lettuce leaf with rice and toppings.


Hawaiian Pork Pizza

Serves 3-4

1 package store-bought pizza dough, at room temperature

2 cups fresh sliced or shredded mozzarella

¾ cup barbeque sauce

½ cup thinly sliced red onion

1 cup diced pineapple

1 pound Kalua Pork

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Shape pizza dough into a round on a lightly greased baking sheet. Spread with sauce and add toppings. Bake 10-12 minutes.


Tortilla Soup

Serves 4

8 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 small jalapeno pepper, diced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 pound Kalua Pork

2 cups tortilla chips, crushed

½ cup green onion, sliced

1 bunch cilantro

1 avocado, sliced

In a large pot, combine the broth, pepper and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook on low for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add the pork. Spoon into individual bowls and serve with remaining ingredients as toppings.


Kalua Pork Enchiladas

1-2 pounds Kalua Pork

12 medium-sized flour tortillas

1 pound smoked mozzarella cheese, grated

3 cups enchilada sauce, canned

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 14-ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup green onions, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour half the enchilada sauce in a pie dish. Dip a tortilla in the sauce and set on a cutting board. Place 3 tablespoons pork down the center of the tortilla; sprinkle with a few tablespoons of cheese, beans, cilantro and green onions. Roll lengthwise and place seam side down in a 9-by-13 baking dish.

Repeat. Pour over remaining sauce, remaining cheese and green onions. Bake 35 minutes until bubbling and browned. Garnish with cilantro and additional onions.


Maria Nelson is a blogger and food photographer living in Issaquah. Her work has been featured in The Huffington Post, Relish Magazine, Buzz Feed, Daily Candy and other online publications. Find her at


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