When I first heard of the concept of cooking pork in milk I could think of few dishes that sounded more revolting. Pork? milk? together, quite dreadful. But as soon as I tasted this delicious tender meat I became an instant convert.
The recipe is Italian and I first tried it when I was teaching in Orvieto at Alistair Little and Tasting Places’ amazing cookery school. It was my first taste of so many things that have become part of my life: Italy, teaching, local seasonal foods and the wonderful enthusiasm that one finds in groups of folk with the same passion.
Gosh what fun we had! What meals! What nights of wine and music sitting under the stars looking at the unbelievably beautiful, illuminated, golden face of the Duomo. It was magical and , whilst I’m not suggesting this recipe can conjure up those happy halcyon times, the flavours of this delicious dish could create new memories.
I used a rather small piece of pork that I’d had sitting in my freezer but I would suggest you buy a joint that weights about 1.5 kilos as any left over meat is sensational eaten when thinly sliced, cold. A slow grown piece of pork from a rare breed out door pig would be my first choice. I ask my butcher to bone and roll a loin of pork , removing the skin which I cook separately to make excellent crackling. I use the bones as a trivet to keep the pork raised from the base of the pan, they also add flavour to the rich cooking juices.
In another homage to Italy I cooked some cannellini beans. These creamy white beans are almost a staple in the peasant based foods that we love to eat. I cook my own as I find the flavour and texture superior to tinned beans. Soak the beans over night in plenty of water then drain and cook in plenty of clean cold water until they are soft. Always remember that you should never add salt to pulses until they have softened, about five minutes before the end of cooking. I chose to roast some tomatoes and red onions to make a concentrated compote that I stirred into the beans along with some seasoning giving them about another five minutes cooking.
This recipe needs to be started a few hours or better yet the night before you need it. The pork is marinated in a wine and vinegar marinade for anything from 2-24 hours. Traditionally this was to help cleanse the pork. In theses day of better animal husbandry this marinating of the meat is now done for flavour.
Pork cooked in milk
1.5kg leg or loin of pork
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
300ml white wine
2 tablespoons oil
salt and pepper
A few sage leaves
Sprigs of rosemary
Put the meat in a deep dish cover with the vinegar and wine and leave it to marinate over night.
Dry it with kitchen paper and pan fry in a hot roasting pan to seal the meat. Pour in the marinade and boil frantically to let it reduce.
Add the seasoning, herbs and milk and cook slowly for about two hours or until the meat is tender, basting every 20 minutes or so. If the liquid in the pan evaporates completely add more milk or some water.
Remove the meat allowing it to sit for 15 minutes in a warm place. If you have a lot of sauce boil to reduce slightly.
Slice the pork on a plate and serve with the sauce. Don’t be put off by the fact that the sauce curdles you could strain it if you like.