“Pork in Milk”

February 28th, 2010 · 20 Comments · Dinner, Pork and Beef, Posts by Andy

My aunt Patty was the first great home cook I ever knew. She would get up at 5am, run a few miles, come home, make a big pot of coffee, and start making the gooiest, butteriest challah french toast you’ve ever seen. (At holiday time, she made it with egg nog. And she always added a dash of vanilla, a tradition we’ve continued with our own kids.) She’d clean up breakfast, and start in on lunch: maybe a wild rice salad with cranberries, maybe some egg salad sandwiches with onion and celery, maybe some chicken Milanese (she dredged in corn flakes crumbs). She’d clean up lunch, and start in on dinner. She’d stuff roasts with egg and pancetta and marinate butterflied legs of lamb in great, plastic tubs; she’d make fresh ricotta cheesecakes and tiramisu with real lady fingers and freshly whipped cream; and she would always, always turn down any offers of help. “Cooking is my therapy,” she’d say, tossing another pot onto the pile in the sink, and I remember not believing her.

Of all the things Patty would cook for us when we visited, there was one meal I looked forward to more than any other. It was based on a recipe from a woman named Marcella Hazan, a name that meant nothing to me at the time. Patty called it “pork in milk,” and she would make it just for me; it got to the point where I could sniff it out the moment I walked into her house.

“Pork in milk?” I’d say.

“How’d you know?” she’d respond.

When it was ready, she would take the pork out of the pot and slice it, put it on a platter, and bury it in mounds of nutty, slightly disconcerting-looking, sweet-smelling clusters of milk — the remnants of the braising liquid — that she spooned over the top. “Make sure you get enough clusters!” she’d say. “They’re the best part. Do you have enough? Here, take more!” I assumed, because she was Patty and because everything she did in the kitchen appeared to be designed for maximum complexity, that this “pork in milk” was difficult to make.

Turns out, it’s not.

“Pork in milk” is now one of our go-to weekend meals (and also one of the dishes enshrined on our recipe door). Our oldest daughter eats it with clusters, the younger one without, but they both eat it — and happily — which is a victory in and of itself. As for the difficulty: it’s seven ingredients and one pot, with a total hands-on time of maybe five minutes. – Andy

Click to the jump for the recipe.

Pork Loin Braised in Milk

(adapted from The Classic Italian Cookbook by Marcella Hazan)

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 pound pork loin
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg (Hazan does not call for this, but we like a hint of it)
2 1/2 cups whole milk

Heat butter and oil over medium high heat in a casserole that is barely bigger than the roast itself. (I use a 2 3/4 quart Le Creuset like the one above, and it’s a pretty snug fit with a two-pound roast.) Brown the meat on all sides. Add salt, pepper, milk and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and leave the lid slightly ajar. Cook slowly for about 2 hours, turning and basting the meat from time to time. If necessary — and it’s usually not — you can add a little more milk. By the time the meat is cooked, the milk will have coagulated into small, brownish clusters. Remove the meat to a cutting board, carve, and arrange on platter. Add 2 or 3 tbsp warm water to the pot, turn the heat to high, and boil away the water while scraping and loosening all the cooking residue in a pot. Spoon the sauce over the pork and serve with sauteed shaved brussels and roasted potatoes.

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20 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Patty Rockmore // Mar 16, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Yummy Yummy. And, Jenny, I hope you did what my Granny always did when someone wanted one of her fave recipes: Leave out one important ingredient. xxxxx

  • 2 admin // Mar 16, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    which is what???

  • 3 Hubba // Mar 26, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Wow. I wish I could cook like Auntie P!

  • 4 Ann Boyd // May 8, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    I just discovered your blog, and I’m really enjoying it. Thanks for all of your inspiring thoughts about food and parenting!

    This recipe here reminds me of a Jamie Oliver one for chicken with lemon and milk that is fabulous — I learned about it over at The Kitchn, and I really recommend their tip of leaving the lid on while cooking in the oven.


    Happy cooking!

  • 5 Margarita // May 18, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    I just discovered your blog also, and I am already in love with it! My cooking inspiration (mom) is in town this weekend and we are going to try this dish! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, inspiration and recipes!

  • 6 Margarita // May 24, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    I made this last night and the milk didn’t coagulate. I ended up taking off the lid, turning up the heat to reduce it. Any suggestions for what I can do next time? It was still super delicious, thanks for the recipe!!

  • 7 Kiera // Jun 10, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    I tried this last night and we loved it. I did have to pour most of the milk into a pan and boil it down just before dinner-time because it hadn’t cooked down enough, but I ended up with lots of tasty “clusters” – or “plunks” as my 3-year-old called them. Next time I might try taking the lid off for the whole last hour.

  • 8 mushroom pizza | dinner | Dinner: A Love Story // Jul 8, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    [...] me go on and on and on about. This is Aunt Patty we’re talking here  – Aunt Patty of milk-braised pork fame – so we like it when she likes something. Of course, the focus of the evening was not so much [...]

  • 9 nnista // Aug 11, 2010 at 11:56 am

    planning to make this friday night for my mom’s 60th birthday dinner! with some really nice local pork. very excited, been thinking about this recipe since you posted it.

  • 10 Nabilah // Mar 16, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Ok, you are making me a little sad I am eating halal:) Bacon was harder to give up than booze (ok, I really didn’t have to give up alcohol since I didn’t drink, but still. . .pork was a sacrifice:)Would it work with a beef roast or be pointless somehow?

    I am new to this blog and I LOVE it. Good for you!

    Any good ideas for wine substitutes, I see a lot of grape juice substitutions thrown in here, but from memory, I know it has to be too sweet to be a good sub. for wine in most of the recipes that would call for it. I would like a little of that subtlety, though. Suggestions?

  • 11 Michelle Z. // Aug 21, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    My Aunt Patty also gave me this recipe. I’m making it right now – love.—Michelle Z.

  • 12 JoAnn // Dec 18, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Made this today and it was wonderful.

    Except that my little clusters never turned brown (they were beige) and the excess liquid never boiled away.

    So I added some cornstarch (dissolved in water) to thicken the sauce. That worked! It was delicious and we have enough left over for another meal.

  • 13 Lisa // Feb 5, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Made this tonight and it is ah.may.zing! It has so much flavor! How is that possible with so few ingredients??? It is officially being put in our ‘rotation’. Thanks!

  • 14 Scheherazade // Dec 24, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    Just made this as a Christmas eve meal for the two of us (OH is on call tomorrow so we’re celebrating today) and it was incredible. Who would’ve thought that over boiled milk could taste so good?

  • 15 katie // Mar 5, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    So I thought the clusters were going to be crunchy! But they are not. Was I the only one? I cooked it too long waiting for them to get crunchy and dried out the meat a little. Take the meat off when it’s still juicy!

  • 16 Kate // Apr 17, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    Just made this for dinner — and it was delicious!!! Thanks for another winner. My 2 yr old and 4 yr old loved it. So nice.

  • 17 Sarah // Jul 28, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    Long time follower, just got around to making this DALS favorite. Question: I followed the recipe to the T, but the clusters were quite a bit oily still. Should I reduce the oil a bit?

  • 18 Awads // Nov 24, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Made this for supper today! It was great, but I might use less fat in the initial browning. The sauce seemed a bit oily. I tried to skim some of it off, but worried i’d lose too much milk Those soft clusters were tasty.

  • 19 Amy M // Dec 10, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Made this for our ice/snow day dinner. It was amazing. Easy recipe and smells great while cooking. Thanks!

  • 20 Stephanie // Apr 9, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    Oh wow! Cook’s Illustrated has a version that adds fat to the milk to PREVENT the curdling. I wonder which way my family would like – probably both as you can’t go wrong with CI or Marcella. (Or Aunt Patty’s!!)

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