The curated kitchen: Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage – and TWO recipes

Poor Delancey. Named after a street in New York’s grimy Lower East Side, this Seattle pizzeria was desperately unwanted by half of its’ owners. The Molly half. It was Molly’s husband, Brandon, who wanted it. Molly didn’t think he’d actually do it. Brandon, after all, was the type of man who galloped from unfinished project to unfinished project. But after he invested countless dollars and untold months in the restaurant, she realized this was the one project he was actually going to finish. So she balked. But it was too late. Which is why, months later, Molly is sobbing as she is plating salads. Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage is a sad tale. But all is not lost. At the end, Brandon gets a second restaurant. Molly gets a memoir. And, in Delancey, we get a small handful of recipes (although none, oddly, and perhaps tellingly, for pizza). After the jump are two Molly Wizenberg recipes: a recipe for Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad and a recipe for Sweet-Hot Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder.


Recipe: Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad

During Delancey’s gestation, and for a long time after it opened, we ate a lot of takeout. One of our favorite quick, cheap lunches was (and still is) a Vietnamese rice noodle salad called bún, and we like it enough that now, sometimes, we even make our own version at home. Don’t be put off by the number of steps. The dressing, a take on nuoc cham, can be made a few days ahead, and if you’ve got the ingredients on hand and the dressing prepared, you can bang out this meal in very little time.

This salad is wide open to adaptations and a great vehicle for using up leftovers or odds and ends. Take the recipe below and run with it, using whatever vegetables and cooked meats you have on hand. Here are some tips to help as you go:

– Slivered raw carrots are a must, I think, as are sliced cucumbers. A small handful of each is about right. Another essential ingredient is salted peanuts. It’s a sad day when I go to make this salad and discover that we have no peanuts.
– You’ll also want some sort of crunchy lettuce or raw cabbage-type vegetable. Thinly sliced Romaine is nice, as are the smallest, crispest leaves of more tender green lettuces. Napa cabbage leaves, sliced crosswise, have a great, watery crunch, and baby bok choy works beautifully, too. Whatever you use, a handful per person is a good bet.
– Blanched snow peas, sliced thinly, are always welcome. Start with a small handful.
– Bean sprouts, the white ones that are about as wide as spaghetti, commonly show up in Vietnamese noodle salads, although I could do without them. It’s up to you.
– Fresh herbs! Sliced basil or Thai basil is delicious here, as is chopped cilantro. A few sliced mint leaves isn’t a bad idea, either.
– If you really want to do it up right, fry some shallots. Peel and thinly slice a few shallots, pour oil into a skillet to a depth of one inch, let it get nice and hot (between 275°F and 325°F), and, working in small batches, fry the shallots until they’re light golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel to drain briefly; they’ll crisp as they cool. Fried shallots are one of the tastiest toppings for bún, albeit fiddly to make at home. I’ll tell you a secret: if you happen to have a can of French’s French Fried Onions in your pantry, try tossing some of those into the salad instead. Pretty tasty.
– As for protein, it’s hard to mess up. One of my favorite meats for this salad is a leftover pork chop, sliced, but grilled or sautéed shrimp is a close second. Slices of cold steak are delicious, too, and for vegetarians, extra-firm tofu, cooked almost any way, is also great. This salad is also a good place to use up leftover roasted chicken, although I recommend tasting a piece with the dressing before committing; not everyone likes the union of chicken and fish sauce.
– And though it changes the whole concept, try substituting fresh, hot rice – I like Calrose – for the noodles here. We do that often.

Last, note that this recipe doubles nicely.

For dressing:
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 to 3 tablespoons (25 to 35 g) light brown sugar
6 to 8 tablespoons water, to taste
1 medium garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 Thai (also sold as bird’s eye) chile, minced

For salad:
8 ounces (225 g) thin rice noodles (roughly the width of linguine)
3 or 4 Napa cabbage leaves, thinly sliced crosswise
1 medium carrot, peeled and shredded or cut into matchsticks
½ of a cucumber, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced
A handful of chopped fresh herbs, preferably a combination of basil, cilantro, and mint
8 ounces (225 g) cooked meat, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces (see note, above)
½ cup (65 g) salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

To prepare the dressing:
In a jar or small bowl, combine the fish sauce, lime juice, 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, 6 tablespoons of the water, the garlic, and chile. Whisk well. Taste: if it’s too pungent, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time. If you’d like more sweetness, add brown sugar ½ tablespoon at a time. Remember that you’re going to be putting this dressing on unsalted vegetables and noodles: you want the dressing to have a lot of flavor, but it shouldn’t knock you over. Pour into a serving bowl. (Covered and chilled, the dressing will keep for three days to a week.)

To assemble the salad:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the rice noodles, and cook for four to five minutes, or until tender but not mushy. Immediately drain the noodles into a colander, and rinse them well with cold water. Lay out a clean kitchen towel on the countertop, shake the colander to drain away excess water, and then spread the cooked noodles on the towel to drain further.

Divide the noodles between two or three good-sized bowls, depending on the number of diners, and top with the vegetables, herbs, and meat. Scatter the peanuts on top. Allow each person to spoon on dressing to taste. Toss well, and eat. (Alternatively, you can present this salad family-style. Toss the vegetables, herbs, and noodles in a mixing bowl and then mound them on a serving platter. Arrange the meat over the noodles, and top with peanuts. Each diner can scoop their own portion from the platter and dress it as they see fit.)

Yield: 2 to 3 servings

Recipe: Sweet-Hot Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder

This roast is quite different from the pork shoulder that Paseo puts in their sandwiches, but in many ways, I like it more. All credit for this recipe goes to Allison Halley, a very talented cook who once worked at Delancey. This roast was inspired by one that Al and her boyfriend Jason served at her birthday party, and afterward, at the restaurant, she and Brandon played with seasonings, deciding on a combination similar to that used for the classic Italian roast porchetta, and devised a combination smoking/roasting technique for cooking it. At home, though, I keep it simple and just roast the thing. This isn’t the quickest recipe on Earth – the pork should ideally be seasoned 12 to 24 hours before cooking, and then it cooks for nearly seven hours – but there’s nothing difficult about it, and the result is a tender, hugely flavorful roast with lots of fragrant juices. We happily eat it on its own, with vegetables and some rice or potatoes for sopping up the juices, though it’s also terrific in Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad and the leftovers make a killer fried rice.

You’ll want to look for a roast that’s well-marbled, and if it isn’t already tied, ask your butcher to tie it for you. Note that, like the meatloaf on page 66, this recipe is a good reason to keep powder-free latex gloves around. The smell of garlic powder tends to cling to bare skin a little longer than most of us would like.

1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
One 3-pound (1 1/3 kg) boneless pork shoulder roast
¼ cup (50 g) sugar
¼ cup (60 ml) fish sauce
Crunchy sea salt, such as Maldon or fleur de sel

A day or two before you’d like to serve the roast, season it. Combine the dried thyme, black pepper, and red pepper flakes in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Grind thoroughly. Add the garlic powder, and process or stir briefly to combine. Place the roast in a bowl or on a deep plate – something big enough to hold the roast and catch any juices. Rub the roast evenly with the seasoning mixture; then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.

When you’re ready to cook the roast, preheat oven to 200°F, and position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Remove the roast from the refrigerator, and put it in an enameled cast-iron pot with a lid. (I use a 5-quart Dutch oven.) Cover the pot, and put it in the oven. Roast the pork – resisting the urge to open the oven to check on it! – until it is fully tender and a lot of juices have accumulated in the bottom of the pot, about 6 hours. (If you check it with a meat thermometer at this point, the center of the roast should read between 170°F and 190°F.)

In a small bowl, combine the sugar and fish sauce, whisking until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pot from the oven, set aside the lid, and pour half of the glaze over the roast. Raise the oven temperature to 225°F, and return the pot, uncovered, to the oven. Cook for 20 minutes more; then pour on the rest of the glaze. Cook for another 20 minutes. By this point, the roast should be nicely browned on top. Remove the roast from the oven, and allow to rest for at least 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. You can either slice it thinly or cut it into coarse chunks, depending on how you plan to serve it: slices are lovely when you’re serving it on its own, and chunks are a nice way to eat it with rice. In either case, sprinkle the pork lightly with crunchy sea salt, and serve hot.

Yield: about 6 servings

{Book courtesy of the publisher. Recipes copyright © 2014 by Molly Wizenberg. Reprinted by permissions of Simon & Schuster, Inc., NY.}