By Jackie Goldstein
I recently had the pleasure of joining Scott Bridi, the founder of Brooklyn Cured, as he cooked for a small group of friends at his cousin’s apartment. These dinners are a somewhat regular occurrence – with so much time spent at work, hand-crafting his line of pates, sausages, and rillettes, Scott loves the chance to get together with friends, take the helm in the kitchen and floor everyone with an amazing meal.
Scott is always open to ideas for these dinners, so Matt (Scott’s cousin) and I suggested a ‘Pork and Pinot’ night. Scott was game. “I haven’t been able to cook as much as I’d like since starting Brooklyn Cured,” he said. “I don’t know a lot about pairing, but I do know a lot about pork!”
There were ten guests for dinner that night – not a problem for Scott, who worked his way through just about every station in the kitchen at Gramercy Tavern before dedicating himself to charcuterie.
Scott put together a menu that is still making my mouth water. The evening began with an arugula salad garnished with candied pecans, sweet peas and blood oranges, followed by roasted Mosefund Farms Mangalitsa pork shoulder on charred asparagus, ramps and royal trumpet mushrooms. To finish the feast, Scott served up pomegranate-glazed pork belly on a quinoa salad with fennel, pickled shallots, and pomegranate seeds.
I asked Scott about the pork dishes.
“There’s a lot of great produce to use at this time of year. The ramps came from Berried Treasures at the Union Square Greenmarket. There’s great asparagus everywhere now too. I love asparagus and ramps together,” he said.
The cut of the pork used in this dish is the same that’s used for coppa or capicola, a cured pork shoulder that’s an Italian specialty and a favorite of Scott’s. “I’m a big fan of Mosefund Farm’s Mangalitsa pork. It’s a rare, fatty breed raised in New Jersey. It’s got a really special flavor. The muscle in the shoulder cut is beautiful – it looks like a pinwheel that’s marbled with lean meat and fat. Given the unctuous, tender, red-meat qualities of Mosefund’s Mangalitsas, I thought this would be a fun cut to treat like a steak and serve medium rare over some charred spring vegetables.”
“Pork seems to pair well with just about any type of fruit, and I’ve been on a pomegranate molasses kick lately, so I thought that would be a cool jumping-off point for the dish,” Scott said. To make the glaze, he combined pork stock, pomegranate molasses, pomegranate juice, port wine and brown sugar, and reduced it to a syrup which he brushed repeatedly on the belly as it slow roasted at 325 degrees.
Scott wanted to balance the rich pork belly with an accompaniment that would bring freshness, crunch and brightness to the dish – he decided on a quinoa salad.
“The salad was a good time,” he said. He included quinoa, fennel (diced and quickly blanched), pomegranate seeds for color and crunch, and shallots picked in white balsamic, “to add brightness and to compliment the rich, fatty belly.”
Needless to say, the meal was a smashing success. Jealous? No need – Scott was happy to share the recipe for his pork shoulder dish.
For the pork:
2 Mangalitsa pork shoulder roasts (from Mosefund Farm, called “Neck Roll” at their New Amsterdam Market farmstand)
2 tsp black peppercorns, ground finely
2 tsp fennel seeds, ground finely
½ tsp chili flakes, ground finely
For the vegetables:
1 to 2 bunches of ramps, washed and trimmed
1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed
½ package royal trumpet mushrooms, sliced 1/4″ in. thick
1 shallot, sliced thinly
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Dry the pork shoulder with paper towels and let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before roasting.
Generously sprinkle the pork with kosher salt on all sides. Combine the pepper, fennel seed, and chili flakes, and rub the shoulder with it on all sides.
On medium-high heat, sear the pork on all sides in a heavy-bottomed pan.
When the pork is seared on all sides, finish cooking in the oven, for about 15-20 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 135 degrees F. Flip the roast once or twice in the oven so it cooks evenly.
Rest the pork for 15-20 minutes at room temperature before slicing.
In the time that the pork is in the oven and resting, you can cook the vegetables. For the ramps and asparagus, you can char them on the grill or in a pan. For the grill, coat them in extra virgin olive oil and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Cook on high heat until just tender and blackened. In a pan, cook them on high heat using olive oil. Cook in batches in one layer on the bottom of the pan so they get a nice char.
Roast the mushrooms in a pan on high heat with a good amount of olive oil. The mushrooms will absorb the oil like sponges so you’d need more than just a thin coating to roast them. When the mushrooms begin to brown, toss them and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Let them continue to brown for a couple of minutes, then add the shallots and a bit of butter to the pan.
To serve, combine all the vegetables and scatter them on a platter. They should be all tangled together to give it a rustic homey feel.
Slice the pork and fan it out on the vegetables, and pour some of the roasting pan juices over the top to finish.
Note: You can find Mosefund Farm’s Mangalitsa Pork at the New Amsterdam Market, at the site of the old Fulton Fish Market near South Street Seaport, every Sunday until December.
You’ll find Scott there too!
Bonus: Want to know more about Mosefund Farm’s Mangalitsa pigs? Food Curated visited the farm for a tour last fall.