Pineapple-Braised Pork Sandwiches
The centerpiece of a luau is the painstakingly slow-cooked pig. If you can’t go to Hawaii or don’t have an imu (underground oven) at your disposal, fake it with slow-braised pork shoulder. The combination here of salty soy and sweet pineapple juice balances the richness of the pork. Topped with spicy, crunchy jicama and pineapple slices and served on a sweet, toasty roll, it’s the perfect tiki party snack. Try pairing it with a tiki cocktail, such as the classic Mai Tai.
What to buy: Hawaiian sweet rolls are soft, yeasty rolls about the size of slider buns. Their slightly sweet flavor complements the rich braised pork, but you can substitute a larger bun of your choice for a more substantial sandwich.
For the pork:
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 4-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
- 20 garlic cloves, peeled (from 1 medium head)
- 1/4 cup peeled and finely grated fresh ginger (from about a 5-inch piece)
- 1 1/2 cups naturally sweetened pineapple juice
- 1 cup sake or dry sherry
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 1/2 medium jicama, very thinly sliced into 1-1/2-by-2-inch pieces
- 1/4 medium pineapple, very thinly sliced into 1-1/2-by-2-inch pieces
- 20 sweet Hawaiian rolls, split in half horizontally and toasted
For the pork:
1Heat the oven to 325°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
2Rub the salt and pepper all over the pork pieces. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or a 6-quart heavy-bottomed pot with a tightfitting lid over medium-high heat until smoking, about 4 minutes. Add enough pork pieces to form a single layer (do not crowd) and sear on all sides until golden brown, about 3 minutes total. Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining pork pieces.
3Add the onion, garlic, and ginger to the pot and stir to combine. Cook until aromatic, about 10 seconds. Add the pineapple juice, sake or sherry, soy sauce, and brown sugar and stir to combine. Return the pork pieces along with any accumulated juices to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover and place the pot in the oven. Braise until the pork is tender and falls apart when shredded with a fork, about 2 hours.
4Remove from the oven and transfer the pork pieces to a large dish; set aside.
5Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium heatproof bowl and strain the sauce; discard the solids. Using a fat separator, remove the fat from the sauce and discard (alternatively, let the sauce settle until the fat rises to the surface, then skim away with a large spoon or ladle).
6Shred the pork into bite-size pieces, discarding any excess fat or connective tissue. Return the pork to the pot, add 1 cup of the sauce, and stir to coat. (If you prefer moister pork, add more sauce as desired.)
1Place the lime juice and cayenne pepper in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the jicama and pineapple pieces and toss to coat.
2Place 1/4 cup of the pulled pork on one half of each toasted roll. Top with a slice each of jicama and pineapple and place the other half of the toasted roll on top. Serve warm.
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