Slow Caramelized Pork Shoulder Momofuku Style

Some recipes just demand to be made. You flip past them in the supermarket checkout line, or see a picture on someone’s Pinterest board, but instead of disappearing in the abyss of your subconscious, they remain top of mind, making your mouth water uncontrollably, keeping you from resting and relaxing until you have made that dish. Sometimes the hook is a picture, colorful, lush and dazzling. But sometimes, when the words are just right, that’s where the hooking power lies.

Slow Caramelized Pork
You'll Need a Big Fork to Dig Into the Delicious Caramel Crust.

And that’s just what happened with a recipe for Slow Roasted Korean Pork in the New York Time Magazine a few weeks ago. The pictures were pretty, but they didn’t move me and haunt me. The power lay in one paragraph towards the end of the article.

The next day, put the shoulder in a low oven for six hours, until the meat surrenders and becomes a kind of heap. Let it rest. Turn the oven on high. Slather on brown sugar and salt, and blast it into a lacquer.

Caramelized Pork in Sriracha Lettuce Wrap
I loved the crisp lettuce contrast with the salty sweet roast pork.

Those images, the meat giving in and collapsing into a deliciously tender heap before being finished up with a caramel shell were just too much for me. For two weeks, I was obsessed with the recipe, I dreamed about it day and night, until I found a quiet day to cook it and then eat it.

Not only was the dish delicious, it required only a few simple ingredients: a pork shoulder, salt, and brown and white sugar. The pork shoulder was dirt cheap: $17 at Whole Foods for a monstrous hunk of meat that would easily feed a Superbowl crowd.

Ever tried Sriracha? It's an addictive hot sauce, perfect with this roast pork.

We served it two ways, to fulfill our own personal fantasies. My husband had it slathered with cold creamy cole slaw on top of small Hawaiian bread rolls. I wrapped it in bright green lettuce alongside of cucumber slithers topped with a dollop of Sriracha. We both walked away deliriously happy with our meal and collapsed on the couch, fantasy fulfilled, into a blissful food coma.

Slow Caramelized Pork Shoulder Momofuku Style

Slow Caramelized Pork Shoulder Momofuku Style

Ingredients

  • 1 whole bone-in pork shoulder, pork butt, or picnic ham (8 to 10 pounds)
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
  • 7 tablespoons of brown sugar

Instructions

  1. Place the pork in a large bowl. Mix the white sugar and 1 cup of the salt together in a separate bowl. Rub the pork all over with the salt and sugar mixture. Cover with plastic wrap. Set in the fridge overnight.
  2. The next day, heat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the pork from the fridge and discard the juices at the bottom of the bowl.
  3. Place the pork (I prefer to refer to it, manly style, as the PIG) in a large roasting pan and place it in the oven.
  4. Baste it with its glorious juices every hour or so.
  5. After about 6 hours, the pork will collapse, yielding gently when prodded with a fork. Remove it from the oeven and let it rest for an hour.
  6. turn the oven up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Stir together the remaining salt and the brown sugar. Rub it all over the pork. Blast it in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the pork is covered with a nice caramel crust.
  8. Enjoy it warm. You'll have to get physical with it, using tongs, forks, or other pointy devices to get past the caramel coating. Serve it with rice, bread, or lettuce as I did. And come back to tell me how you devoured it like a happy glutton.
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