Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday Cookbook Adventures: Momofuku Pork with Ranch

Have I mentioned that I'm in love with the Momofuku cookbook? Because I am in love with the Momofuku Cookbook. I've already found about 10 more things I want to make, but I'm going to tear myself away next weekend so I don't turn this into a Cooking Momofuku blog.I wasn't planning to do much cooking this weekend since I had to take the bunnies out to the vet for check-ups yesterday, but as you can maybe tell by the fact that this is my fourth cooking-related post of the weekend and I haven't even gotten to the main event (which will happen tonight), that isn't the way things worked out... Most of the cooking occurred somewhat randomly, and this was no exception. I mentioned last week that the pork belly I got from the very awesome folks at Blood Farm didn't turn out to be what I wanted... Well, the pork butt steaks I ordered on that same trip weren't what I wanted either. I'm supposed to use bone-in hunks of pork shoulder in next week's posole, but instead I had apparently ordered (absolutely beautiful) boneless pork butt steaks. I wasn't about to boil these, so I decided I would get bone-in shoulder hunks at H-Mart for the posole and use these beautiful steaks for something else.
Conveniently, I remembered recently reading about the Pork Shoulder Steak with (Ramp) Ranch Dressing recipe over at MomofukuFor2. This recipe wasn't in my mental recipe queue at all, but it sounded pretty tasty and it made use of pork shoulder steaks, so I decided to give it a go. I couldn't find ramps to pickle, but I didn't try overly hard since I'd read that the dressing tastes great with the recommended substitution of pickled onions and scallion greens.
The pickled onions and scallion greens are minced up to make the half cup that should have been home-pickled ramps.Kewpie mayo, buttermilk, and lemon juice are whisked together, and the pickled onions and scallion greens are whisked in. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and damned if this doesn't taste just like (a really good version of) ranch dressing...
Are you getting the sense that this is the easiest recipe ever? Because it totally is. All that's left to do is to season the pork steak and fire up the grill.
Throw the steak on a plate with some of the dressing, and you're good to go.
This was sort of a revelation. It never would have occurred to me to grill a hunk of pork shoulder. I've only ever used pork butt and pork shoulder to make pulled pork, in which case I cook it with low heat for about 13 hours. This, though, was brilliant. When I called ahead to Blood Farm to make sure they would have everything I needed in stock, I spoke to Mr. Blood himself and he was really pleased that I was ordering pork butt steaks. He laughed that nobody ever orders them and he used to love taking them home to eat himself. After trying this, I can totally see why.This is pretty much like the rib-eye steak of pork. The meat was tender, moist, and delicious. The fat charred up and started to melt down. The ranch dressing was really an afterthought for me with this dish. It was tasty and paired nicely with the pork, and I could see this being a perfect match if you were eating at a picnic table in the sunshine... but I almost think this steak deserves better. I'll definitely be adding grilled pork butt steaks to the repertoire, and will play with ideas for sides that can take this dish to another level.

UPDATE: OK, so I had this again for lunch (since there was obviously more than one serving of pork on that plate above...) and I retract the disparaging tone of my comments about the ranch dressing. It's actually fantastic with the pork. I think the fact that I was drinking a nice Pinot last night (whereas this is clearly more beer food) may have colored my feelings... The pork steak on its own was perfect with the wine, but the ranch clashed horribly with it... and since this Adelaida Pinot Noir is way better than the ranch dressing, it won the battle and left me pondering what side dish would go well with pork steak and Pinot rather than just appreciating the dish on its own terms. Lesson learned...

UPDATED UPDATE: I made this again, cooking the pork sous vide and adding a grilled zucchini side dish, and it was even more awesome. Highly recommended...

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