After days agonizing over which recipe would have the honour of inaugurating my new enamel cast iron pan I had to choose this one. A well tested family favourite which is one of the best examples of the genius of Italian cooking.
Two ingredients – pork and milk, slowly cooked, creating a dish that can only be described as sublime. I wish this blog had a “smell” icon so you could smell it…
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds loin pork
2 1/2 cups (or more) milk
fresh ground black pepper
Choose a heavy bottomed pan that can accommodate the pork, put in the butter and the oil, and turn on the heat on medium. When the butter foam subsides, put in the meat, the side with more fat facing down at first. As it browns, turn it, continuing to turn the meat every few moments to brown it evenly all around.
Add salt, pepper and one cup of milk. Add the milk slowly lest it boil over. Allow the milk to come to a simmer for 20 or 30 seconds, turn the heat down to minimum, and cover the pan with the lid on slightly ajar.
Cook at a very lazy simmer for approximately 1 hour, turning the meat from time to time, until the milk has thickened, through evaporation, into a nut brown sauce. The exact time it will take depends largely on the heat of your burner and the thickness of your pan. When the milk reaches this stage AND NOT BEFORE, add one more cup of milk, let it simmer for about 10 minutes and cover the pan, putting the lid on tightly. Check and turn the pork from time to time.
After 30 minutes, set the lid slightly ajar. Continue to cook at minimum heat and when you see there is no more liquid milk in the pot add the other 1/2 cup of milk. Continue cooking until the meat feels tender when prodded with a fork and all the milk has coagulated into small nut brown clusters. Then, transfer the meat to a cutting board, let it settle for a few minutes and cut into slices.
Tip the pan and spoon off most of the fat being careful to leave behind all the coagulated milk clusters. You can save and use this fat for another dish, chilli, for example. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of water and boil away the water over high heat while using a wooden spoon to scrape loose cooking residues from the bottom and sides of the pan. Spoon it over the pork and serve immediately.