February 23, 2012 · Recipe · (No comments)

 

As a kid, cornbread was always one of my favorite foods to bake and to eat. Even today, I cannot eat beef stew without it and struggle through cornbreadless chili. The perfect cornbread is a little dense, moist and crumby but still holds up to dipping. Each time I make cornbread, I tend to use a different recipe- whatever I find quickly on the internet. However, after the last recipe I tried, I won’t make anything else.

I was skeptical about the recipe because the process was different from all others I have tried. Instead of mixing fat (usually oil) into the batter, this recipe called for melting a fat (I used butter) in a cast-iron skillet or baking dish in a preheated oven and then pouring the batter in. I thought that surely the cornbread would end up dry and to crumbly. I was wrong. It was crispy on the outside, moist and dense on the inside. Perfect and a new go-to recipe.

Original recipe from NY Times Diner’s Journal.

Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons butter, olive oil, lard or bacon drippings
  • 1 1/2 cups medium-grind cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, more if needed

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Put fat in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or in an 8-inch square baking pan. Place pan in oven.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix eggs into milk, then stir this mixture into dry ingredients, combining with a few swift strokes. If mixture seems dry, add another tablespoon or two of milk.
  3. When fat and oven are hot, remove skillet or pan from oven, pour batter into it and smooth out top. Return pan to oven. Bake about 30 minutes, until top is lightly browned and sides have pulled away from pan; a toothpick inserted into center will come out clean.
February 2, 2012 · Recipe · (No comments)

There is a certain quality to slow, low cooked fatty pork that can’t be found in any other meat. When it is juicy, crispy and caramelized, each bite melts in your mouth. While many cuisines do pork well, none seem to have preparations that work quite as well with fatty pork as Asian cuisines.

A couple of weeks ago, Ian forwarded me a link to a New York Times article about slow roasted Korean Bo Ssam. The article provided a description of the Bo Ssam sold at David Chang’s Momofuku in New York ($200 for six to eight people!) and a simple explanation of the cooking process. With a few minutes of searching, I was able to find a more detailed recipe. The delicious photos accompanying the recipe along with a fortuitous sale on pork shoulder led me to spend a lazy Saturday marinating and roasting.

The recipe was easy to follow, but I had some doubts along the way. First, the recipe was for an 8-10 pound bone-in shoulder and I had a 4 pound boneless. I halved the quartered the volume of salt and sugar for the initial rub, and halved the secondary rub. After the initial rub, the pork felt rubbery on the outside and had released far more juices than I expected. I was skeptical about the possibility of juicy pork, but kept on cooking.

My second issue with my boneless 4 pound shoulder versus the recipes 8-10 pound bone-in came with cooking time. I assumed that the smaller weight would reduce the length of time, but didn’t know how the bone would effect it. In the end, I roasted the shoulder for about 3.5 hours- until it was well caramelized. (Of course my kids demanded my attention right at the wrong time and the shoulder was overly browned in the end.)

The resulting pork was good- especially the crisp outside- but not juicy and a

bit too salty. As suggested, we ate the pork in lettuce wraps with white rice and Momofuku’s ginger scallion sauce. However, I substituted Sichuan pickles for kimchee and Sichuan soybean chili paste for Korean in the Ssam sauce. We had a difficult time determining whether the saltiness was in the pork, the pickles (which are quite salty) or the modified Ssam sauce.

Saltiness aside, neither Ian nor I came close to disliking the meal, and I will try it again. Next time I will plan ahead so that I can make the kimchee and original Ssam sauce. I will reduce the salt in the original rub even more, reduce the marinating time, and reduce the roasting time (with Ian around so I can pay attention at the end!). Stay tuned…