Just about a year ago, Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant started a wine club and we joined. As part of the deal — two bottles of wine each month for $40 — with each shipment they include descriptions of the two wines and a recipe for one of the wines. The recipes are written by Christopher Lee, a former head chef of Chez Panisse and Eccolo in Berkeley.
Of those, I’ve cooked:
Salt Cod Gratin with 2010 Ajaccio Rose “Cuvee Faustine” from Domaine Abbatucci in Corsica (June)
Fish and Shell Bean Stew with Green Garlic and Saffron with 2009 Mataossu Punta Crena (Liguria) (March)
Coq au Vin with 2009 Bourgogne Rouge “en Montre Cul” Regis Bouvier (February)
The October shipment included 2009 Pigato, Feipu dei Massaretti, from Liguria and a recipe for Tuscan Pork Shoulder Braised in Milk. Hmmm… I’ve heard of pork braised in milk, but have never cooked it; I must cook that. The following Saturday I got a 2 1/4 pound pork butt (boneless pork shoulder) at GG Meat, and then on Friday, I got milk, fresh sage, extra garlic and a couple lemons — that’s all it takes, folks.
The recipe was written for a 4 to 5 pound hunk of meat, to serve 8. My pork butt was about half that, to serve we two and have some left over — there’s not many things better than leftover pork. The quantities of the other ingredients are relative to the size of the meat and the size of the pot it is cooked in.
So, here we go —
One day ahead of cooking, generously season pork on all sides with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
I picked a pan in which my pork butt would just fit, because I’ll be using it throughout the several steps of the process. This is a Le Creuset pan I call a “chicken fryer,” which I rediscovered a few weeks ago.
Brown the pork on all sides. The fit was a bit tight to start, but I know the meat will shrink as it is browned. (There is also the advantage of browning the ends, which are up against the sides of the pan.)
After browning, pour the fat out of the pan (I didn’t have much), cook a bunch of garlic cloves without browning, put the pork back and add milk, lemon zest and fresh sage. “Bring milk slowly to a boil (high heat risks scorching), then lower heat to a simmer.” Get the fire adjusted just right, because its going to cook like this for three hours.
I served my pork with mashed potatoes and a few Romano beans that were dressed with butter and a light vinaigrette. Oh my goodness, that is good pork, very moist and mild and not the least bit greasy or fatty. My milk didn’t “reduce and curdle into creamy, light brown nuggets that form a sauce.” It did reduce somewhat, though, and was very tasty over the pork and potatoes. And that leftover pork will make a very nice __________________ (you fill in the blank). I used a bit for breakfast with the LO mashed potatoes and an egg over, a bit thrown into some soup, but mostly, I made…
“I doubt if there are many dishes that can be as great — or, if badly made, as horrendous — as hash.”
(my hero) James Beard, Beard on Food, Knopf 1974
“…one of the best hashes I ever tasted was made with cold roast beef, excellent roast beef to begin with, diced rather coarsely with bits of the fat and cooked in beef drippings with finely choped onion and chopped cooked potatoes, then seasoned with salt, pepper, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce.”
I will do my hash with that fine milk-braised pork.
I started with an onion, sauteed in butter and olive oil — the butter for taste, the oil to keep the butter from burning. Add garlic and cook briefly.
I peeled, diced and boiled my potatoes first. The carrots and celery I added raw, I like them with a bit of crunch. Use about the same amount of vegetables as you have meat and about as many potatoes as celery and carrots combined. Add salt, pepper, dried thyme and Worcestershire sauce, stir and let that cook for a while undisturbed. Add your leftover milk gravy and cook until nearly evaporated. Serve with a poached egg on top.
1 – If the pictures don’t exactly match the text, go by the text. We learn by doing.
2 – If you’re lucky, like me, you have Carol to poach those eggs while you finish cooking.
Tuscan Pork Shoulder Braised in Milk
by Christopher Lee for Kermit Lynch
wine: 2009 Pigato, Feipu dei Massaretti, Liguria
You’ll need a hearty-bottomed pan large enough to hold the pork. Milk cooked with lemon zest curdles into a delicious sauce. Tie the pork first for roasting and season it one day ahead. Serves 8
One 4-5 pound piece boneless skinless pork shoulder, trimmed of most but not all of its fat [mine 2 1/4 pounds]
fine sea salt
cracked black pepper
about 1/3 cup olive oil
10 garlic cloves
About 3 quarts of whole milk [needed only 1Q]
1 large bunch fresh sage
20 strips lemon zest cut from 2 lemons with a vegetable peeler
One day ahead of cooking, generously season pork on all sides with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, brown pork on all sides in a little olive oil over medium heat. Set pork aside and pour off the oil. [cooked in “chicken fryer” on diffuser]
In a thin layer of olive oil, gently cook garlic cloves for a few minutes without coloring, stirring occasionally. Return pork to pan, pour in milk to rise 3/4 of the way up the pork, then add lemon zest and sage. Bring milk slowly to a boil (high heat risks scorching), then lower heat to a simmer.
Simmer pork slowly for about 3 hours, turning occasionally until it is tender enough to eat with a spoon. [mine didn’t get quite that tender] Milk will reduce and curdle into creamy, light brown nuggets that form a sauce. [mine didn’t reduce nearly that much] Scrape bottom of pan to incorporate any tasty bits into the sauce. Slice pork into 1” thick slices and serve on a large latter. Spoon sauce over pork.
You’ll try anything, won’t you? Pork cooked in milk. I don’t get it. My pork comes out tender and tasty without milk. Actually, to me, the hash was more appealing. And the poached egg looked like perfection.