When I first heard of the concept of cooking pork in milk I could think of few dishes that sounded more revolting. Pork? milk? together, quite dreadful. But as soon as I tasted this delicious tender meat I became an instant convert.
The recipe is Italian and I first tried it when I was teaching in Orvieto at Alistair Little and Tasting Places’ amazing cookery school. It was my first taste of so many things that have become part of my life: Italy, teaching, local seasonal foods and the wonderful enthusiasm that one finds in groups of folk with the same passion.
Gosh what fun we had! What meals! What nights of wine and music sitting under the stars looking at the unbelievably beautiful, illuminated, golden face of the Duomo. It was magical and, whilst I’m not suggesting this recipe can conjure up those happy halcyon times, the flavours of this delicious dish could create new memories.
I would suggest you buy a joint that weights about 1.5 kilos as any left over meat is sensational eaten when thinly sliced, cold. A slow grown piece of pork from a rare breed out door pig would be my first choice. I ask my butcher to bone and roll a loin of pork , removing the skin which I cook separately to make excellent crackling. I use the bones as a trivet to keep the pork raised from the base of the pan, they also add flavour to the rich cooking juices.
In another homage to Italy I cooked some cannellini beans. These creamy white beans are almost a staple in the peasant based foods that we love to eat. I cook my own as I find the flavour and texture superior to tinned beans. Soak the beans over night in plenty of water then drain and cook in plenty of clean cold water until they are soft. Always remember that you should never add salt to pulses until they have softened, about five minutes before the end of cooking.
This recipe needs to be started a few hours or better yet the night before you need it. The pork is marinated in a wine and vinegar marinade for anything from 2-24 hours. Traditionally this was to help cleanse the pork. In theses day of better animal husbandry this marinating of the meat is now done for flavour.
Pork cooked in milk
1.5-2kg leg or loin of pork
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
300ml white wine
2 tablespoons oil
salt and pepper
A few sage leaves and a couple of sprigs of rosemary
Home cooked beans or 2x 400gm tins cannellini beans drained
Ask the butcher to skin and bone the loin, score the skin and cut the bones for you.
Put the meat in a deep dish, mix the vinegar and wine and pour this over the meat. Leave it to marinate over night turning as often as you can.
About an hour before you’re ready to cook take the meat from the fridge and pat it with kitchen paper. Heat your roasting dish and fry the meat turning often, to colour it and help the fat to start running.
Place the bones in the dish , put the meat on top and pour over the marinade adding in the herbs and milk, seasoning well.
Place the pan in a heated oven 170 Fan and cook for about two hours, basting from time to time or until the meat is tender.
about an hour before you will eat place the pork rind on a baking sheet and cook until crisp and puffy.
Take the pan from the oven, remove the pork and put it on a warmed plate, leaving to rest for 15-20 minutes.
Now put the pan back on the hob and bring the mixture to a simmer cooking till the juices reduce , tip in the drained cooked white beans and cook , stirring for another 5-10 minutes .