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Pork Braised in Milk and Cream

(recipe, Kim Severson & Julia Moskin)


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Introduction

On the surface, this dish might sound horrible, but if you are confident enough and patient enough, the reward is a sauce that is so good it nearly made Moskin's husband leave her for me. (She, for the record, recoiled in horror at the idea of the recipe. She had an unfortunate pork-and-milk experience as a young cook.) The recipe is a classic Italian one. It leans on the magic of heat and lemon to produce delicious golden curds, which you then strain into a rich, magical sauce. Various chefs have put forth versions of this recipe; this one is an amalgam, tweaked after some experimentation.

Ingredients

  1. 1 pork loin roast (2½ to 3 pounds)
  2. Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  3. 1 Tbsp. chopped garlic, plus 5 large cloves, slightly crushed and peeled
  4. 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage, plus leaves from 2 or 3 fresh sage sprigs
  5. 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  6. 3 cups milk
  7. 3 cups heavy cream
  8. 2 lemons
  9. 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Steps

  1. Season the pork well with salt and pepper. Rub with the chopped garlic and sage and refrigerate — overnight is best, but a few hours will do.
  2. Bring the meat to room temperature and brush off as much of the sage and garlic as you can. Heat the oil in a heavy pot with a lid, preferably enameled cast iron. Sear the meat well on all sides; this will take about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the milk and cream in a saucepan and bring it to a boil, then turn down the heat to keep it warm.
  4. Peel several long strips of zest from the lemons. Squeeze the juice from one of them (you'll use this when you finish the sauce).
  5. Transfer the pork to a platter and wipe the fat from the pot. Add the butter to the pot and set the heat to medium. Add the garlic cloves and allow to get a touch golden. Add the sage leaves, reserving a few for garnish, and stir, then set the roast back in the pot, along with any juices from the platter. Bring to a simmer, add the lemon zest (reserving a few for garnish), and season to taste with salt.
  6. Pour the milk and cream into the pot, partly cover, and simmer gently for 3 hours or more, turning the roast once in a while and stirring the mixture to prevent excessive sticking; the sauce should look slightly golden and clumpy. Turn off the heat and allow the meat to rest for at least a half an hour, or until you are ready to make the sauce, up to an hour.
  7. When you are ready to serve, remove the roast and slice it ¼-inch thick or so. Place on a platter.
  8. Pour the sauce through a sieve into a saucepan, using a wooden spoon to help it along. Gently reheat the sauce (no boiling!), then stir in the lemon juice and pour it over the meat. Garnish with the reserved sage leaves and ½ lemon slice.