Porco a Latte

Drawing by my Grandma McCoy, circa 1940

I stud the pork shoulder with garlic, brown it and then braise it in milk.  The milk gives the dish a subtle sweetness. The final result can be carved with a spoon and will melt in your mouth. This recipe is a peerless method of cooking pork (and, in that it works well with cheaper and not-so-wonderful cuts, will even make the proverbial silk purse out of a pig’s ear) but the browned milk will never be ready for its close-up.  On the other hand, there have been many spectacularly ugly stars in every walk of life so we’ll simply put Porco A Latte into that category.

For this dish, which contrives to be both delicate and rich, you’ll need:
2 ¼ lb pork shoulder.  Do not trim the fat!
3 gloves garlic, slivered
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 ½ cups whole milk

Slit the shoulder and stud it with garlic slivers.  Season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil and butter in a Dutch Oven and brown the meat.  Then add the milk.  When you’re braising, only add enough of whatever liquid you’re using to cover the meat up to the halfway point.  Never, ever, cover the entire cut.  That’s called ‘boiling’ and there are very few meats or recipes that take well to boiling.

Braise the shoulder, covered, either on the stove top over low heat or in the oven at 350 degrees for about 3 hours or until the meat pulls apart easily with a fork.  Turn the meat over about every half hour. If you can desert the kitchen while the pork is cooking – do it.  Otherwise, the aromas will be so appetizing that you’ll want to eat everything in your pantry.

Remove the meat from the pan and keep warm. Cook the milk sauce for a few minutes until the milk reduces and browns.  Slice the meat and serve with the browned milk reduction.

We enjoy eating this with mashed potatoes topped with a drizzle of the milk sauce and sautéed greens.

John’s Wine Pairing:
I truly love this dish. The sweetness, creaminess and light brown color derived from the oil and butter makes me want to do a complimentary selection with a semi-sweet Madeira or an Oloroso sherry, but in keeping with our local matching trend and with a contrasting choice instead, we picked a gorgeous Edna Valley Viognier 2006 with lots of fruit. In this particular match, I like the contrast of the full body and fruit flavors with the pork.