This is the story of pork butt. It is also the story of friends (Jenn and Andy) who are moving to place of “the fountain”, Geneva actually. Certainly known for things other than “the fountain” but Google Geneva and the Jet d’Eau is all over the Image pages (followed closely by the flower clock). Don’t ever try to say the words “Jet d’Eau” out loud if you do not speak French, it’s just embarrassing, trust me…
The pork butt portion of the story is sweet and savoury, the friends moving part is more bitter and sweet— though we want to have pals to visit in Geneva (and to tour the fountain with) we also are very sad to have them so far away (they eased us in un-gently by moving to Vancouver first). We like to get together to eat with Andy and Jenn, a lot of meat, a lot of cheese and a lot of wine. (Andy could throw around wine terms like “flabby” and “grippy tannins” before Sideways had people hating Merlot.) Jenn makes mean guacamole. And cocktails. (Jenn’s cocktails are so good she should be an anesthesiologist.)
But this blog is sparked by Andy (not that we do not love Jenn-we do–and she brings chocolate from BC–which I am running short of and desperate for…) because when I last saw him he had his arm twisted into giving me the Momofuko cookbook for my birthday. He came over to visit and had the book in a bag and then I might have said something like “Is that for me?” and then suddenly it was. Which I feel bad about…but not a lot.
Especially now that I finally made the Bo Ssam that every blogger every has already posted about, the book is on my “featured” bookshelf (also because it is great reading). The Bo Ssam recipe came to me at the perfect time as we were having a BBQ (planned for a weekend of torrential downpour–so trying to feature meat but not on the grill) and aside from having delicious, easy food, I wanted to do something fun. I haven’t had a “cooking day” in a while, and hurriedly making dinner for the family does not count ever. (Almost ever.) So meat that would be in the oven for hours, making the house smell inviting with it’s with potentially fantastic results seemed like a great idea… Andy said it would be the best.
And so I called Cumbrae’s and ordered 14 pds of bone-in pork butt (which the woman helping me seemed to think was a lot for 12 people) but I feared would barely be enough (no need to trust the experts Sue!). To be fair to my own gluttonous judgement, I really was not sure how many people would show up and how can a person have a BBQ and bear the thought of running low on meat???
Essentially you’re just slow cooking the butt, so this recipe is incredibly simple. The night before you rub the meat with a mixture of salt and sugar and let it cure overnight in the fridge. Then you drain off any liquid and cook for 6 hours-ish at 300 F til tender and yielding. I think ours went 7 hours.
At that point, when you’re drooling and ready to eat you rub the exterior with a bit of salt and a lot of brown sugar, and fire the oven up to 500° F. Then in goes the meat for about 10 minutes until the exterior is sweet and crusty (David Chang calls it a “pig shoulder encrusted in Pig Candy” in the book).
Finally you bring it outside (under the tarp your husband spent 3 hours putting up for a storm that would pass before the guests arrived) and you hesitate…..where to start? All the guests, expected to eat at least 1 pd of eat each, hovered. We also had an emergency as the steamed rice I had picked up from the Chinese food place was actually discovered to be fried rice. Which was not going to work with my lettuce wrap plan. (luckily the problem, a bike ride away was resolved though I admit I may have panicked and slightly overreacted when I saw the fried rice–possibly freaked out just a little?)
Finally, crisis managed, I dug in (we had Boston lettuce for wraps, steamed rice, condiments and cucumber and strawberry salad and red cabbage salad to go with–(the recipe for the slaw is one I was seduced by in California (red cabbage is very sexy) made by my brother and sister-in-law’s friend Traci. Recipe at bottom. AWESOME.).
Condiment wise I made the ginger-scallion sauce reco’d in the Momofuko book, we had Kimchi, pickled onions and a beet horseradish spread I had made for burgers and was nice and earthy with some bite.
This is not Andy (Andy who sparked the whole idea was back in BC planning what to wear to his first fountain visit), it is my friend Terry (meat consultant), and yes my face melted when I realized we had the wrong rice. It was horrifying. Luckily Terry took it in stride and just kept pulling meat.
You must all try this. Here is a link to Sam Sifton’s piece in the New York Times Magazine that provides the recipe.
Andy and Jenn- wish you were here (but Geneva also good) xo Sue
Red Cabbage Salad (based on a the slaw recipe from a The Northwoods in southern California.)
- 1/2 head red cabbage
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 3/4 tsp onion powder
Whisk together vegetable oil, red win vinegar , sugar, salt, seasoned salt, black pepper, and onion powder.
Toss the dressing with the cabbage. Scrape the salad with the dressing into a zip-top bag or covered container and refrigerate. Let marinate for a 5 hours until cabbage turns deep red, softens a bit, and flavors meld. It’s even better after a few days. (IT REALLY REALLY IS!)