Peach Kalua Pork with Sage, Coriander and Cumin Seeds

| September 7, 2010 | 2 Comments

Peaches are one of those fruits we love, but for some reason, we seldom serve. It’s hard to find good ripe peaches unless you get them from the farmers market or a fruit stand during the summer peach season. It’s one of those fruits that always signal summer to me. I love their sweet, juicy, robust and aromatic honeysuckle flavor when you bite into them, and their slightly tart aftertaste that leaves your taste buds tingling for more. They’re like a fuzzy globe of sunshine, captured in sweet perfection, and their tart ending is almost like a signal that Oregon’s summer is about to end. There’s nothing like biting into a ripe peach, its juice running down your chin as you struggle to keep it from getting on your shirt. I remember living in Texas and waiting in anticipation for Blue Bell ice cream to release its seasonal Peaches and Cream ice cream in the late summer. 

Our dear friends Tina and Steve Martin gifted us with some peaches this weekend as we were finishing up a day of wine-tasting and vineyard touring with them. As my mind started turning to planning a meal for our friends the next day to celebrate my partner Charles’ 65th birthday, I originally thought of pairing apples with pork, but was nudged into sense by Charles who suggested pork and peaches instead. So I decided to do a barbecued pork roast with peaches cooked Kalua-style (wrapped in banana leaves). 

As someone who likes to entertain, I’m always trying to think of entrées that are easy to prep ahead of time and don’t require a lot of fussing over while cooking. It makes my job as host a lot easier when people start arriving, and it lets me focus my last-minute kitchen time on getting the side dishes done. If you’re inviting friends over who love to cook, having them bring side dishes is even better. It lets your guests participate in preparing the meal and also lets them show off their culinary flair. 

Cooking large cuts of meat Kalua-style offers you two advantages: You can use an inexpensive cut of meat in order to feed a lot of people because you’re cooking it at a low temperature for a long period of time, and it is one of those cooking methods that does not require you to be constantly attentive, allowing you to focus on other things while it’s cooking. 

It does come with one drawback: You need an extra pair of hands to help you with the prep, as it will be impossible for you to wrap a large roast with banana leaves and then encase it in several layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil on your own. 

If you want to try variations of this dish, consider two things: What kinds of spices do you want to use, and what kind of fruit or vegetable will you add so that it contributes moisture as well as flavor to the pork while it’s cooking? 

Since we settled on peaches for the pork, I figured adding Walla Walla sweet onions and chopped sage, along with ground coriander and cumin seeds would do nicely. Coriander and cumin are spices that have always evoked an exotic Middle-Eastern sense of place for me.  They have a distinctive aroma and flavor that complement pork and chicken dishes and makes them taste lighter and less heavy to me. 

A Weber kettle grill is perfect for this type of cooking method because it offers a large amount of space above the grilling surface for your bundled pork, and the grilling surface is a nice distance away from the coals. After the coals are lit, use a garden tool or long tongs to arange them in a ring around the outer edges of the  coal bed so that the heat source is away from the pork, which you will place in the center of the grill. Also, place an aluminum pie dish in the center of the ring of coals and fill it with water to add moisture while your pork is cooking. Don’t worry about adding more water once it evaporates. 

And don’t be daunted by the cooking time of five hours. Cooking the large roast slowly and encased in the banana leaves and foil will make the pork tender and moist. Once you taste this dish, I hope you’ll be inspired to create variations of your own, and leave us a comment and suggest your variation. I’m sure our readers will appreciate it! 

Peach Kalua pork with sage, coriander and cumin seeds.


Peach Kalua Pork with Sage, Coriander and Cumin Seeds 

Serves 6 

  1. An 8-lb. (3.6 kg), bone-in pork shoulder or butt roast
  2. 8 large peaches, peeled, pits removed and sliced into quarters
  3. 1½ Walla Walla (or other variety) sweet onion, sliced
  4. 4 large banana leaves (you can find these frozen at Mexican or Asian food stores), thawed if frozen, and rinsed
  5. 2 bunches or about 2 cups (480 ml.) fresh sage, chopped
  6. 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) ground coriander
  7. 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) cumin seeds
  8. 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) peanut or other cooking oil
  9. 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) salt
  10. 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) freshly ground black pepper
  • Light coals and arrange in a ring along the sides of the bottom of grill. Add unlit coals on top of the lit coals to make sure you have enough fuel to cook for 5 hours. Place an aluminum pie plate in the center of the coals and add water. Place metal grill above coals.
  • In a skillet over a medium flame, heat cooking oil.
  • Add sliced onion, and sauté until they begin to get soft and translucent.
  • Add chopped sage, ground coriander and cumin seeds and stir, cooking until the sage is wilted, then turn off heat.
  • Arrange two long sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil in a cross pattern on a large working surface.
  • Overlap the banana leaves on top of the foil in the same cross pattern.
  • Place the pork shoulder or butt roast in the middle of the cross of banana leaves. If the skin is still attached to one side of the roast, place skin-side down.
  • Spring salt and pepper evenly over the pork.
  • Cover the top surface of the roast with the sautéed onions and herbs.
  • Place peach quarters on top of the roast and get your helper to pull up two opposite sides of the banana-leaf cross. Place additional peach quarters between the roast and banana leaves.
  • Wrap the banana leaves over the side of the roast and bring them together on top of the roast.
  • Have your helper bring up the two remaining sides of the banana-leaf cross, one at a time, tucking any remaining peach quarters between the banana leaves and the roast, then bring the banana leaves over the top of the roast.
  • Hold down the banana leaves while your helper brings up the aluminum foil on each side, wrapping the roast as tightly as you can, and hold down the foil on top of the roast while your helper tears off two more long sheets of aluminum foil (about three times the circumference of your bundle of pork and banana leaves).
  • Wrap the bundle with one sheet of additional foil in one direction and repeat with the last sheet of foil in the other direction, pressing on the foil to encase your roast as snuggly as possible.
  • Wearing oven mitts, place the foil-encased roast on a large baking sheet and carry to your grill, then gently remove the foil-encased roast from the baking sheet and place it in the center of the grill.
  • Cover your grill with the lid, and make sure top and bottom vents are open so that your coals won’t go out.
  • After five hours, wearing oven mitts, gently place the foil-encased roast on a large baking sheet. Bring it into the kitchen and let it rest until you’re ready to serve.
  • When you’re ready to serve, use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut slits in the foil on top of the roast and carefully pry back the foil and banana leaves. There will be a lot of liquid inside so keep the foil in tact as much as possible on the sides and bottom of the roast so that the liquid doesn’t leak onto your countertop.
  • Using tongs, you should be able to pull the tender pork off the bones and slice on a chopping board, if necessary, before placing the pork pieces on a serving platter. After you’ve plated all of the pork, use your tongs to arrange the cooked peach quarters around the sides of your serving platter. Garnish the platter with cilantro or parsley, if you wish, and serve.

Enjoy and happy birthday, Charles! 

— Vic

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Category: Meat, Pork

About the Author (Author Profile)

Victor Panichkul is a journalist and writer by training; a cook, wine lover and photographer by passion; and a lover of the outdoors since moving to Oregon more than 10 years ago. He is a native of Bangkok, Thailand.

Comments (2)

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  1. Steve Martin says:

    The leftovers worked great for two additional meals. 1st night turned leftovers into pork enchiladas and the 2nd night it was pulled pork sandwiches.

  2. VPanichkul says:

    Fantastic! Mom made stir-fry with it for us on one night….finger likin’ good

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