Milk braised pork shoulder
Inspired by the milk braised pork shoulder we’ve had a time or two at the Purple Pig (and maybe a little bit by Charlie placing one of the finest restaurant orders ever on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), I’ve been wanting to try my hand at milk-braising. We picked up a beaut of a bone-in pork shoulder from the Meadow Haven Farm guy at the Green City Market yesterday for a little trial run. Here it be:
And, after a quick truss, season, and sear:
Just stunning, eh? Pour off the fat and toss in some new butter. Fry a handful of sage leaves for a few seconds, then a cup or two of milk (whole) and I also added some heavy cream because why not. Pork goes back in the pot, and on a low burner partly covered for a couple hours, turning every 30 minutes or so. The milk will clot up into brownish curds, floating in rendered pork fat, and you kind of need to play it by ear, adding more milk as needed. After two hours, my pork was starting to stick a bit to the bottom of the dutch oven, so I moved it to the oven to finish at 300 for another hour, fully covered. The pork was no longer so pretty at this point, covered in curdled milk bits, but totally falling off the bone and wafting off some serious smell-amazing. Most alarming was what was left of the milk-braise liquid. Gah!
If I hadn’t done a bit of research before going in, I probably would have freaked out at this point, figuring the whole thing was a huge kaput mess. But, this is EXACTLY how you want it to look. Spoon off all the fat (there might be a lot) and scrape all the gloppy browned curds into a food processor or blender, and puree it right up. Might need to add some milk or water to loosen it up, but this will essentially turn into this incredible, thick, savory-nutty sauce that’s out of this world. I’m not sure why it becomes so much like peanut butter in both consistency and taste, maybe something to do with the milk fats caramelizing or something. What am I, a milk scientist? The pork itself was tender but a tad dry, so I need to do a little better on that count next time. But with a sauce this killer, you could be eating shoe leather and loving it.