Good morning from sunny Umbria my friends! how are you?
Are you still enjoying the afterglow of the holidays? taking time to snuggle on the couch? are you full of wonderful resolutions to better yourself and the world?
I hope you have a few minutes to slow down this weekend. And if you do have a bit of time, may I ask you a small favor?
You know that Alla Madonna del Piatto is an independent small business who passionately supports a community of other small businesses like artisans, farmers, wine makers, tour guides and others.
If you have stayed with us and loved it, taken a cooking class, joined one of our culinary tours or art retreats, would you please write us a review? It means the world for us and all those who work with us!
See this picture of baby Google? doesn’t she convince you to do it? She loves our guests too. ❤
Now, let’s get to this month recipe, the pork roast in milk sauce. In Italian: Maiale al latte.
Cooking a roast in milk is probably unusual outside of Italy, but it’s very common here and quite popular as a Sunday meal.
For this recipe please buy a pork loin with a layer of fat on top. The fat will render off when the pork sears and will flavour the gravy with the meat juices and milk. You can use a different cut of pork such as shoulder or neck as long as it’s suitable for braising. Sometimes I use pork neck which is marbled and results in a more tender roast.
Be sure to use a heavy-bottomed pan that fits your roast snugly as you need the milk to cover the meat about half way.
This recipe will serve 4-5 but please note that in Italy we eat small portions of meat. If you use a larger pork loin, simply double the ingredients accordingly.
- 800 g (2 lb) boneless center-cut pork loin
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 4- 5 sage leaves
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 2 cup whole milk
- strips of zest from 1/3 of a lemon
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 onion, quartered
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dry brine the the pork loin by salting it at least 2 hours before cooking or overnight.
It’s not easy to quantify how much salt is needed, I simply sprinkle the salt all over the meat and then rub it in lightly. A popolar rule of thumb is to use at least 1/4 teaspoon of table salt per lb (1/2 kg).
You do not need to rinse off excess salt. It will all be absorbed into the meat.
Bring to room temperature one hour before cooking.
When ready to sear, it’s very important to pat the meat dry with kitchen paper. This will insure that you get that lovely crust which will impart a delicious hint of caramel flavor to the dish.
Heat a medium heavy-bottomed pan, add olive oil then add pork, fat side down first, and cook until browned on all sides, 2–3 minutes per side. Deglaze with white wine then reduce heat to low, add the garlic, onion, sage leaves, rosemary and milk.
Cover the pot with a lid, and gently simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning the pork every 15 minutes. If the liquid in the pot gets too low, add a little warm water.
The milk will curdle and look quite unattractive. Don’t worry, this will be fixed later.
Check the meat for doneness starting at about 45-50 minutes of cooking time, with a meat thermometer. It is done when it reaches 62-65°C (145-150° F).
You can also slow cook the pork – uncovered – in preheated oven at 160°C (320°F). Turn every 15 min. and check for doneness after 1 hour.
If you don’t have a thermometer (but you should), pierce the meat with a sharp pairing knife. As soon as the juices run clear the meat is ready. Be cautious, it’s easy to overcook pork without a meat thermometer!
Remove the meat to a warm bowl and tent with foil. Let it rest at least 20 min.
Meanwhile reduce the sauce on high heat to make it creamy. I cover the saucepan 3/4 of the way which allows to evaporate the liquid but prevents boiling out the aromas. Make sure to check it as the brown bits of meat in the pan my stick.
Once the sauce is reduced, discard the sage and make it smooth using an immersion blender.
Taste the sauce and add salt if necessary. Add lemon zest, season with black pepper.
When ready to serve, thinly slice the meat and place on a serving patter. Spoon the warm sauce over meat and sprinkle with fresh sage leaves.
Serve with steamed greens. I especially like cime di rapa or cavolo nero because they have a more intense flavor which offsets the sweetness of the pork.