i am completely ready to tell the tale of last week’s culinary challenge. the pork shoulder was purchased on sunday with initial intentions of braising, which i love and have done many a time. and, braising always makes it sound like fancy things are happening. confident in my braising abilities, i scoured the internets for other things to do with 4 1/2 lbs of meat. and then it hit me: surely david chang has some pork-tastic recipes for me, right? i ran (ok, reached) to my pile of lucky peach magazines and found nestled in issue 1 the master recipe for the momofuku pork belly and shoulder. finding out that i could easily attempt a dish they serve seemed like a great project. then i found the recipe for his bo ssam pork online, which was essentially the same, plus one more step to finish.
what you do:
throw in a 300 degree oven for 6 hours, basting every so often
sprinkle with brown sugar, crank up the heat to 500 and let that caramelize and turn into meat candy
everything was going great, and the apartment was smelling so good you almost, almost believed you could chomp any object and it would taste like pork. i prepared the two sauces and got the rice ready while i was waiting.
after hour 6 i dutifully removed the beautiful pork out of the oven to let cool a bit, and applied the brown sugar.i turned the oven up to the scary land of 500 degrees. i say scary because if you live in a small apartment with poor ventilation, that temperature can quickly turn into bad news bears and make a once confident home cook feel all sorts of nervous.
it’s only 15 minutes, i kept reassuring myself. how bad could things get?
with 2 minutes to go the smoke detector got its cue and began to sing with great dedication. evan lept up in attempts to silence it as i scampered around flinging open all the windows and sliding glass doors. apparently, we learned, the smoke detector was hard-wired and could not be forced to shut up by removing the battery. so he remained up high, holding on the silence button. i opened the oven and smoke began to pour out of my poor le creuset. i ran, with oven-mitts and bare feet, carrying over 4 pounds of smoking meat, around the dinner table, weaving between the christmas tree and flowers. i ran to the balcony and set it down on the stone floor, still sizzling and hissing at me. we let the apartment air out for a bit. i was feeling a bit defeated.
and then, it was time to eat. because i sure as hell wasn’t going to not eat something i had invested the past day and a half on. amazingly, it was almost completely salvageable. aside from some parts that were indeed burnt beyond edible reason, the rest of it played out like a dream. from the ashes rose a delicious meal. meat fell off the bone with the slightest of force. paired with the ssam sauce, ginger scallion sauce, and some rice, i felt okay again.
i would totally do this again, minus the last step, well, at least until i have a sweet kitchen. it’s a little time consuming but makes you feel very accomplished. and it’s obviously delicious.