Suggestions for Pork Shoulder Braised in Milk
I plan on making the following recipe substituting pork shoulder for the lamb (butcher is de-boning the shoulder for me):
I am making it for guests, and I am not using lamb because I don't know my guests very well and don't know if they'd like lamb. It seems easy enough, but I request your advice regarding two things:
1. Is the sub of pork shoulder for lamb a bad idea? Of course, flavor and texture will be entirely different, but my gut feeling tells me this will still work with the fennel, parsley, and rosemary flavors. Anyone think it will be a disaster?
2. Instead of just braising for a few hours, I am considering braising with the milk in a low (225) oven overnight with the pork "chunks" and the bone on the side for flavor. Should I not attempt this with milk? My dad said he'd read somewhere that the milk would screw with the texture of the pork if left braising that long, but he wasn't very sure. Any reason not to go for this overnight in an attempt to get the best flavor/texture?
Any other advice is much appreciated.
The flavors should go very well with pork but I question the logic of braising overnight at 225. It's possible that it could work but with guests coming for dinner is such an experiment really a good idea?
Generally, milk is reserved for lamb and game meat, to "cut" that game-y taste. I'm not sure why you would want to do this with pork. When I make pork shoulder, I brine it overnight in 1 bottle of beer, about 1/2 cup each brown sugar and white sugar, and 1/2 cup salt, and 4-5 cups water. I then place in my smoker at 250 for 10-12 hours for a 15-18 lb cut with bone in. You could roast it this way in your oven. Or you could braise it in broth, wine, with a mire poix of sauteed veg. I do a lot of braising this way, and puree the sauce when done for a great gravy.
I think the fennel and rosemary will be nice for seasoning the pork.
I agree with Randy that experimenting for a dinner party is not a good idea. I would say, avoid the lamb if you are unsure of your guests, and get a recipe for pork shoulder that does not involve experimentation or modification to such a drastic extent.
The milk has enzymes that break down the meat......Mrcella Hazan has a recipe for Pork Loin braised in milk, so the idea is not totally far fetched. I say give it a shot, but reduce the heat to 200*. You can check in the morning and see if you need to adjust the temperature higher......this is really nothing more than cooking in a slow cooker.
FWIW, both Marcella Hazan and the River Cafe book have similar recipes for pork braised in milk, but both are also stovetop like the Batali lamb braise and no more than 3 hours braising time. I can't speak for either recipe, as I haven't made them, but those are pretty good authorities as far as the flavor combo/technique goes.
I've had this dish made with pork before at a small place in North Beach in SF and it was brilliant. This preparation seems kind of fussy. Subbing Pork for Lamb is a GREAT idea. Here is the River Cafe version, I haven't made it but it's been on my radar for a while: http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes...
If it were me I would consider boning out the pork shoulder flat, making a herby paste of fennel and or sage with garlic for the inside, rolling and tying it up, then braising it in the milk. That would be INSANE. You could also just braise one big piece in the milk which would also be really really good.
If you cook pork chunks in milk for that long I think you will probably end up with pork mush, not fun!
I used to make pork roast braised in milk many years ago in Florence. Basically, you saute some onions, lightly brown a pork roast, add orange peel and fennel seeds, cover with milk and braise very slowly until the meat is tender and the milk has evaporated and caramelized. Delicious.
All of these suggestions have been wonderful. Thank you! You have convinced me not to do an overnight, as it will likely be overkill. I will stick to the Batali recipe for the seasoning, because I am really intrigued by that fennel seed flavor. I intend to stick with the chunks because I think it will be easier to sear beforehand and serve afterwards. I would re-consider this and perhaps leave it all in one big de-boned roast in my dutch oven if anyone believes this would come out better. Thanks again for all this wonderful help. I will be sure to post results over the weekend.
Oh. My. Goshness.
I have never had such a roller-coaster of emotions making a dish for dinner guests -- but it turned out EXQUISITELY PERFECT. I couldn't say enough about this recipe, and how well balanced the flavors really are. Just excellent.
Here are notes on what happened, and what did and didn't work.
1. Parsley/fennel/garlic paste started to burn once I got oil hot enough to sear the pork. I continued to cook with it in the oil, since I was almost done searing, but then I had to throw out the oil and the paste before putting in my braising liquids. The pork pieces, however, retained enough of the paste all over that it didn't make as a big a difference as I would have expected -- still delicious. Next time, I'll follow the recipe and fry the paste in the oil for one minute, but then remove it before searing the pork in just the oil.
2. 1 h 15 mins is not nearly long enough to get this pork soft, or even edible. I was about to cry into my dutch oven when I opened, poked the pork, and saw the pieces were as hard as hockey pucks after 1 h 15 mins. I thought it was game over. The main dish was ruined, and would bring the rest of the menu down with it. At this point, the braise had *not* been bubbling. I had it on low (cooking on Le Creuset I know that "low" is really like "medium" using anything else), but my wife at this point suggested turning it up to "1". Within ten minutes, it was gurgling, but I considered it a lost cause, by that point anyway. I was planning on thinly slicing each chunk, drenching it in sauce, and making the best of a bad situation. After 45 minutes, I checked up on it again, and I could simply not believe what I saw: the pucks had turned into succulent morsels, giving way to my tongs' tender squeeze, and nearly falling apart as I lifted them up to test. I was flabbergasted. I could not believe that extra time would cause such an enormous change and "save" the meat.
SO, big thumbs up for this recipe. Braise it for at least two hours, go aggressive with the seasoning, and you'll end up with a beautiful sauce at the end. Thanks to everyone for posting.