I was walking through Prospect Park the other day and saw a squirrel with a thick black bushy coat and thought, “Gee, it’s gonna be a long, snowy winter.” Then I realized it was April. Oh-kay!! Here is a dish that I posted on the ‘gram this week that got a lot of requests. The inspiration came from NYT Food, but ultimately the recipe was concocted on basics, instinct and whisky. It worked.
Credit to David Chang and Momofuku, where oh I how I wish I were queue-ing up in the East Village with my boys on a Friday night. But I digress. Your ingredients are pork, salt and sugar.
You can spend an hour researching pork cuts and that gets you one hour closer to bedtime, but allow me. Big. Porky. Bone-in is key! Call it shoulder, butt, “picnic,” whatever. 5 lbs. 10 lbs. It doesn’t matter. This thing cooks slower than your attempted workday and unlike our roller coaster moods, cannot be spoiled with one wrong move.
Here’s how you do it. 1/2 cup sugar. 1/2 cup Kosher salt. Six Tbsp brown sugar. Mix it all up and rub it into your pork. Cover loosely, throw it in the fridge overnight and enjoy your evening. Around noon the next day throw it on a rack in a baking dish and add heat. 300 degrees is fine. You could probably do 275, too.
Tetchy cooks will feel obligated to peek in on occasion. I completely ignored it for most of the day. 195 degrees internal temperature is the so-called bar for entry. I realized 3 hours too late that basting is suggested. Mine did not seem to need it. I let it go for almost 5 hours and pulled it out when it looked toasty and I was getting hungry. I think the internal temp was around 200 by then, but all the web foodies say this is a meal that cannot be ruined. A tough beast on the outside, indeed.
Here’s the fun part (or scary if you are squeamish). Put away your good knives and expensive kitchen tools. Find a platter. Roll up your sleeves. And pull it apart head to toe until there is nothing left but a bone and the crackling skin.
Chang’s original Momofuku Bo Ssam recipe includes directions for a proper sauce and condiments for serving the dish. I didn’t get that far. Please don’t tell my internist, but I might have eaten four pounds of salty, chewy, stringy delicious pork last week, straight off the platter. I mean, c’mon, these days are long. However, since this terrible time has seen the closing of every single storefront Chinese restaurant in my neighborhood, I did find time to whip up a pretty darned good imitation of roast pork lo mein. Have a great weekend everyone. And stay safe!
You can find more of Ken Carlton’s food ramblings on his instagram @foodformarriage.