I came up with this recipe after noticing the many recent “crock pot” questions on Food52 “Hotline”. Red braised pork was a favorite of Chairman Mao as his origins were in Hunan. From what I’ve read he ate it almost every day. After the Long March, Mao was established in Beijing and ordered a crock pot for his chef, probably in “harvest gold” with a little flower on the outside. I take inspiration from that as well as from the other Great Helmsman, David Chang. This dish combines Chinese, Korean and American ideas about braised pork. Traditional red braised pork would use pork belly, but I’m using shoulder because it stands up well to long slow cooking and in the end, after about six hours, you will end up with something that resembles pulled pork as well as a great sauce to go along. I’d suggest serving this with basmati rice as a side. The ingredients I’ve chosen might seem odd at first but each is in there for a reason. Depending on the size of your slow cooker you can certainly deploy a larger piece of pork shoulder.
Please do store and refrigerate any leftover sauce, pork or rice in separate containers. You can make great Ssam Bar style burritos the next day or LA Koreatown style with shredded cabbage or kimchi and American cheese (yes, really).
- Serves 2-4
1 1/2 pound pork shoulder
large leaves of collard green, washed and stemmed
pork or beef stock
garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
8-10 szechuan pepper corns
gochujang (Korean hot pepper/soy bean paste)*
gochugaru (Korean hot pepper powder)*
chili sesame oil
- Mise en place. In small dishes portion out the pepper powder and pepper paste. Crush the garlic but leave the cloves intact.
- Wash the collard leaves and roll into “cigars”, then slice into chiffonade ribbons.
- Slice the leeks into coin shapes (white and pale green parts only) reserving the tough green parts for another day, such as making stock.
- Using paper towels, wipe down the pork shoulder completely so that it’s kind of dry. Rub all over with the hot pepper powder.
- In a dutch oven or some other high capacity killing machine---I’m talkin’ to you Kim Jong Un---heat the peanut and sesame oil to the point where they begin to shimmer. Browning is a necessary step. So do that on all sides of the shoulder. Season with salt as you go.
- Meanwhile spread the sliced leeks on the bottom of your crock. When the shoulder is browned and very aromatic transfer to the crock. Surround it with the collards and sliced okra. Add the stock and if necessary, depending on the volume of your slow cooker, add water just so that the liquid comes half way up the side of the shoulder. It shouldn’t be submerged. Throw in the Szechuan pepper corns while your at it.
- Set the cooker to low and the dial to 6 hours. Go to work or to the local karaoke bar. When you get home steam up some rice for about 20 minutes. Cut up the shoulder and plate with sauce spooned over. Turn off the slow cooker. Its work is done.
- *The Korean ingredients will be the most difficult components to find. Here are some imperfect substitute suggestions; for the hot pepper powder try a Spanish pimenton de la vera (maybe a smoked style, i.e ahumado) and for the pepper paste try sriracha aka “rooster sauce”.