OMG, you guys! It has been almost a month since I posted!! The holidays were a glorious whirlwind of cookie exchanges, seven (ok, make that nine) fishes, prosecco parties, parade of friends and family. But now – a new exciting year awaits!! I love the freshness of a new year – a time to reflect, to plan, to look ahead to all the opportunity a new year brings. No resolutions for me this year; but rather what I am calling ‘guideposts’ – Dance more. Be present. Drink a lot little less vino. Wear more lipstick. And a key one for me – appreciating the simplest of pleasures – like the taste of the first cup of morning coffee or the feel of a kiss or the smell of dinner cooking. Which brings me to this recipe! (You knew I had to bring it back around, right??)
Over the years, I have seen this dish in numerous cookbooks and on the most trusted Italian foodie blogs. However, the thought of a beige, somewhat clumpy braising liquid left me with little inspiration. Boy, I was so very wrong to have ignored this recipe for soooo long. As the roast slowly cooks, the milk curdles and caramelizes around the pork elevating it to a masterpiece of deliciousness. The resulting tender meat is then swathed in a thick porky sauce that is intensely flavorful.
Braising in milk is a technique quite common in many parts of Italy, especially the north. Besides tenderizing the meat, the milk boosts the flavor creating a balanced, silky sauce to complement the pork. You often see this recipe made with pork loin. However, you may want to substitute a cut with a bit more fat, such as a pork shoulder as I have done here. This ensures the pork doesn’t dry up and toughen. The delicious ricotta-like milk curds that form in the sauce are then spooned atop the meat and although the resulting dish may not be a choice for a fancy dinner party, the taste is pure heaven. (If those little clumpy things simply aren’t your ticket, give the sauce a little whisk to break up the clumps a bit.)
Although this dish simmers away on the stove for two to three hours, it is important to not wander too far away. Milk can easily burn or evaporate so you will want to check on the progress fairly frequently and you will want to turn the roast every 30. So maybe it is time to organize that spice shelf by alphabetical order after all!
Buon Anno, tutti!! Look forward to soon sharing our plans for Our Italian Table for the year ahead!
- 1 (2-3 pound) boneless pork shoulder
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons butter, unsalted, divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 or 5 thin slices prosciutto (about 2 ounces), chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 4 cups whole milk
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Bring pork shoulder to room temperature. Trim away any excess fat. Truss the pork with butcher’s twine to help the meat keep its shape during cooking. Season the roast generously with salt and pepper. Find a heavy pot wide enough to fit the pork. Combine 1 tablespoon of butter and olive oil over medium high heat. When the butter foam has subsided, add the pork and sear, turning occasionally until browned on all sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove the roast to a platter. Pour off any excess fat.
- Return the pot back to medium low heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the prosciutto and smashed garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally until prosciutto has browned, about 3 minutes. Add the milk and nutmeg. Bring to a gentle simmer. Return the pork to the pot.
- Cover pan loosely with a lid. Simmer gently, turning meat about every 30 minutes, until the meat is tender, about 2 -3 hours.
- Remove the meat to a cutting board and let rest.
- Simmer the remaining liquid in the pot, uncovered, until it is reduced by about two-thirds. Keep a close eye on the sauce so it does not burn. The curds will begin to turn golden, about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.
- Cut the pork into slices. Arrange on a platter and spoon the sauce over and around the pork. Enjoy!