This one is easy for me, being from Hawaii and all. Having been Chef at a resort hotel on the beach in Kihei, Maui where we had a luau twice a week.
Two things: PORK AND MAI TAIS. Get these two things right, put some Iz Kamakawiwoʻole and/or some Elvis onto whatever digital (or otherwise) music maker you have, toss around some fake (or real) leis, invite your friends to wear their funnest Aloha wear and you have yourself a luau. The leis can be made in China and the music can be tacky but the pork and the mai tais must be right. First off, the mai tai. As much as I love this cocktail and I consumed many of them in my youth, on the beach (I know, lucky me), I never order them here in Florida or anywhere. A grenadine-drenched rum drink a mai tai does not make… There’s an authentic recipe here and I’ve used this as my basis for quantity production in my drink dispenser:
Party Mai Tais for all:
Half bottle each of good quality light rum and dark rum
6.25 ounces orange Curacao
6.25 ounces lime juice
3 ounces orgeat syrup (or simple syrup)
12 ounces pineapple juice (mai tai purists will dispute this but at least it isn’t grenadine)
Mix and taste…
Use this as your base and when you mix one up, shake with crushed ice and garnish with a drizzle of more dark rum (I’m a sucker for Myers), garnish with a pineapple wedge and an umbrella.
The pork. Kalua pig, in Hawaiian-speak. No, we’re not going to dig a hole in the ground (imu) and fill it with hot rock and banana leaves, unless you’re non-urban/suburban and can do such a thing (and catch your own pig), read this. Back at that hotel on Kihei beach when our luau reservations climbed past 350, the pig we put in the ground on luau mornings needed to be supplemented. And thanks to Chef Roy, the luau chef I shared the kitchen with, I picked up this luau staple for many a home celebration of my homeland:
Boneless pork butts
Green ti leaves or banana leaves
In a baking pan for each pork butt lay out two long sheets of foil cris-cross style and line with leaves. Place butt in center, rub with liquid smoke and sprinkle generously with salt. Using foil, wrap pork in the leaves snuggly. Put in preheated 350 degree oven for half an hour then turn down heat to 275 and bake all day. Hours and hours. Until when you open the packet, the pork falls apart. Let cool, then shred/chop with a cleaver. You can add more salt as you do this if needed. Cover with foil and reheat in oven.
I like to do this the day before, then run it in the oven for the party. Easy that way.
Here are some other items to choose from to round out your meal:
Won tons or egg rolls Fried rice Lomi-salmon
Chicken teriyaki Coconut cake
OR, like I’m doing in a few weeks, make the mai tais and pork and have guests bring something. Potlucks are also in the spirit of Aloha. Grab the hula hoops and party!
Next up: Miami Vice Party-all about the Eighties