To accompany the roasted veggies in my last post, my goal was a “celebration worthy” entrée that wouldn’t be too time-consuming to prepare. And somehow I was drawing a blank. I was at sixes and sevens just trying to settle on a protein. So, as I often do when in need of inspiration, I started scrolling through the voluminous recipe files saved to my c: drive. When I came upon this one for Milk-Braised Pork, I stopped in my tracks. Quest ended. Immediately lifted out of my culinary funk.
I hadn’t made this sage- and lemon-laced pork dish in a couple of years, but coming across it felt like running into an old friend. In fact, it was shared with me by a much-missed once-upon-a-time blogger whose recipes I cherish to this day. In addition to her great recipe ideas, I always appreciated her kindness, culinary enthusiasm, and solid pointers. Here’s the dish in her own words (with my photos).
JAVA JUNKIE'S MILK-BRAISED PORK
So here's how to make it. Buy a 2 lb boneless pork loin from your butcher or grocery store.
I bought mine from Eckerlin's - one of my Findlay Market faves -
and as always, it was a generous hunk o' meat - well over 2 lbs. for 7 people.
Put it in a container and rub the whole thing with 1 Tbs chopped sage and 1 Tbs chopped garlic. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight, if you can.
When it's time to cook, remove the meat from the fridge, bring to room temperature, scrape off the sage and the garlic and season GENEROUSLY with salt and pepper. Heat a Tbs of olive oil in a Dutch oven and then add the loin. You want to brown it WELL on all sides--don't move it around while each side is browning--and the process should take about 15 minutes.
In a saucepan, heat up 3 cups half-and-half and 3 cups of cream. (Bring it to a boil and then shut off the heat.)
Transfer the well-browned pork to a plate, pour off the fat from the Dutch oven. Turn the heat to medium, add 3 Tbs butter, and when it foams add 20 peeled cloves of lightly crushed garlic. When the garlic is brown on the edges, add 20 sage leaves and stir to coat. Place the pork back in the Dutch oven, pour in enough of the hot milk mixture to come up 1/2 to 2/3rds of the sides of the pork. Bring to a simmer and add strips of lemon peel from 3 washed lemons and season with salt to taste (the salting and tasting is important to do here).
Partly cover and simmer until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center reads 140 (20 to 30 minutes). That’s key! Pork at 140 is PERFECTLY cooked pork. The reason this dish is such a triumph is the pork is super juicy inside--that's because it was cooked to 140. Once there, turn off the heat and allow the pork to cool then refrigerate for a couple of hours, or until you're ready to serve.
That's all the cooking. When it's time to eat, pull the pork from the milk mixture and carve into thin slices. Heat the liquid to a "soupy custard" and when the liquid is loose, lay the sliced pork back in and heat up with the sauce. Serve it with coarse salt.
As you might recall from my last post, when making this meal I had to come up with work-arounds for an unexpected oven outage. Although I’d planned to cook the pork to that PERFECT 140 F. in the oven, it actually worked just fine on the stovetop. Upon rereading the directions, I’m not sure JJ ever intended it to be cooked in the oven. In any case, a culinary angel was looking over my shoulder when I selected this dish – and helped make everything go smoothly.
Speaking of good karma received via the internets, thanks to everyone who sent me birthday greetings yesterday on facebook and otherwise.
You might have noticed a few changes around here, and they are my birthday present to myself.
Minx, my blogging buddy over at AllTopChef, designed my fun new header – thanx, Minx!
I’ve also changed up my sidebar to include a couple of link lists, one spotlighting some of my favorite food bloggers, and one devoted to “my blogging community” – apologies to those of you who belong in both camps :) Plus I’ve added photos/links to a few of my favorite posts.
And I’ve started an Eggplant To Go facebook page, where I’m posting tidbits and links that tickle my little purple eggy heart, especially when I’m slow in getting blog posts up. It will definitely tickle my little purple eggy heart if you click the link near the top of my sidebar and “like” me.
Best wishes to the Java Junkie (wherever she may be) and to all my fine blogospheric friends!