(This is my version, using the pork shoulder, adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Milk-Braised Pork Loin…)
-Trim and season a 5-6lb. pork shoulder or butt all over with s&p, dried sage and fennel. Season VERY well.
-Cover and let sit in the fridge for about 2 hours.
-Sear in a dutch oven (mine is cast iron) with olive oil on all sides. Remove and set aside.
-Add 1 TB butter and 3 carrots, chunked; 1 big onion, chunked; several stalks of celery, chunked (fresh fennel could be used instead); and 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and kept whole.
-Stir and saute for a few minutes until they develop a little color.
-Pour in a little whole milk, stir from the bottom to pick up brown bits from the pan.
-Place pork back in and add several cups more of milk (could be 2-4cups, depending on the size of your dutch oven. But you want to almost cover the meat and vegetables (see pic below).
(I’ve used a mixture of half milk and half and chicken stock before when I was low on whole milk and it came out just as good. I’ve also used only 2% milk before and it was still amazing.)
-Add 2 bay leaves and a bouquet garni of fresh rosemary and sage, along with several good pinches of fresh nutmeg.
-Cover with lid and place in 325 degree oven for 2 hours, reduce heat to 225 degrees and cook for 3 hours more.
(note-I’ve cooked mine for 5 hours, 6 hours and even 7. You can’t ruin this… I promise. And sometimes I will take the lid off in the last hour or so to reduce the liquid a bit, which also gives the top of the meat a nice crust, but it’s not necessary.)
Beware- when you take the finished product out of the oven and remove the lid, it will look kinda scary…
But don’t worry, you can either stir it well and the ‘curds’ will break down into the sauce, or just boil it down and they will eventually kinda melt away.
What I like to do is remove the cooked meat (carefully!! It is very tender and will want to break in several chunks while you move it) and reduce the liquid by about half.
Then I add the meat back in and break it apart in the sauce before serving. This is definitely a rustic dish. There is no carving, no fancy way to plate it, it will end up looking like barbecue however you present it, but it will taste like nothing you’ve ever tasted before. It’s simply incredible.
(I always use the leftovers of this, and any other slow cooked pork shoulder I make, for a delicious, kick-butt Sweet ‘n’ Sour Pork later in the week. It also freezes very well if you end up making way too much meat.)