While my impatient streak doesn’t always relish the benefits of slow cooking, there is something about a recipe that requires of kind of pre-marinade/ soaking/ steeping that makes me really happy.
While hungry me will sometimes resent the three and a half hour cooking time (despite knowing it will be completely worth it), I will happily be lining up all the bits and bobs needed a day or two before. A few post it notes to remind me to turn the meat and I’m completely in my (organised) element.
Having bought Anna Del Conte’s Italian Gastronomy in the week, this pork braised in milk caught my eye immediately. A good Sunday dish with the benefit of having meat left over to use next week.
The recipe says to marinate for at least 8 hours. Ha! Double that. At 9am yesterday I was smothering my meat in olive oil, cinnamon, cloves, rosemary, garlic and bay. He’s been happily soaking in all those flavours for the last 30 hours!
The pork loin I bought came with a crackling layer which I had to cut off, as the recipe calls for the loin to be rindless but with a thin layer of fat. (I’ll have to have a think about what I can do with the fat/crackling).
Starting by heating oil and butter in a deep casserole, you brown the meat on all sides. A lot of fat in the pan at this point – definitely think that next time I could try and remove more fat. you then warm milk in a separate pan and slowly pour it over the meat. Slowly is specified and you can absolutely see why when you see how it reacts with the fat.
Then it’s just a case of seasoning, popping a lid on at a jaunty angle and going back to baste and turn every 20 minutes or so.
So far so good… it was obvious pretty quickly that 1) there was too much fat in the pan and 2) the milk kept splitting. I tried skimming, I tried new milk, I tried a lower heat… but it kept happening.
Two hours later, it was time to take it out and rest the meat. And in fairness to the recipe the meat was beautifully cooked and tender.
The recipe says to cook off what is left in the pan to make a golden sauce. Not much chance of that happening today! I had some balsamic onions in the fridge that went nicely with the meat. It’s definitely worth having a sauce or some other accompaniment – the meat is well cooked but didn’t take on any of the flavour of the marinade.
In conclusion – a well cooked pork loin, a little bit of a faff, but worth it for beautiful tender meat. The sauce was a complete failure (I will give it another go sometime) so make sure you have something to go with it or it could be a little plain.