Molly is, of course, my Molly Stevens, author of All About Roasting and All About Braising. And David is David Chang, wunderkind chef/founder of the Momofuku Food Group and co-author with Peter Meehan of the Momofuku Cookbook.
They met, figuratively, last weekend when I prepared a slow-cooked pork butt, the Momofuku Bo Ssam recipe’s piece de resistance, using Molly Stevens’ method for Faux Pork Barbecue (slow-roasted picnic shoulder) instead of the slow-roast method called for in the Chang/Meehan cookbook.
(I’d tried the Momofuku method in a test a couple of weekends earlier and couldn’t get the pork to “collapse” as described in the recipe so decided to use Molly’s method for the eight-pound bone-in shoulder, which had worked well on past occasions.)
Instead of salting and peppering the meat as Molly calls for, I prepped it the Momofuku way with a generous layer of sugar and salt and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. Next morning, after an hour out of the refrigerator, the meat— per Molly— went in the oven at 450-degrees for 30 minutes, then slow-cooked at 250-degrees for about seven hours until the meat pulled apart easily and the meat pulled away from the bone.
From there it was all Momofuku: an hour’s rest for the meat while the appetizer of steamed butter clams was prepared and served and the Bo Ssam condiments were readied: butter lettuce leaves for wrapping, white steamed rice, kimchi (salted napa cabbage), a ssam sauce of ssamjang (fermented bean/chili paste) and kochujang chili paste with oil and vinegar, and a chopped scallion/fresh ginger sauce with oil and soy sauce and vinegar. I also got a few small oysters for the intrepid to wrap up in lettuce with their pork.
Just in case the idea or the execution of eating the pork, rice, kimchi and condiments wrapped in lettuce proved too challenging, my son David grilled some marinated and skewered chicken tenders on the frozen deck and brought them in to be served with some homemade satay sauce.
The last step was to layer brown sugar over the cooked pork and blast the pork in a 500-degree oven for about 10 minutes until the sugar caramelized and formed a burnt crust. (Molly would have loved that final act of ‘blasting.’)
Once done, it was a simple matter of shredding the pork and serving it up as the centerpiece of the table, surrounded by the lettuce, rice and condiments and the side dish of skewered chicken tenders with satay sauce.
I gave a quick demonstration of wrapping up the goodies in the lettuce leaf and we had a good time at the table passing things back and forth and finding how delicately balanced the sauces were with the sweet and salty pork and the blandness of the rice and the refreshing freshness of the lettuce. I think everyone passed on the raw oysters— but the oysters were enjoyed the next night in a Hangtown Fry.
Bon appetit, Molly and David!