You know those tests where they determine whether you’re gay or straight and they attach electrodes to your genitals and flash images in front of you to see whether naked men or women arouse you more? Well this post is like one of those tests, only there’s only one image and it’s the image you see above. We’re testing to see how hardcore you are when it comes to eating. So please attach electrodes to your genitals and stare at the picture: are you aroused? You are! Congratulations: you passed and can click ahead to learn the secrets of a fantastic dish.
Diana’s new boyfriend is a food lover and Diana kept hinting that he was looking forward to an Adam-cooked meal. When I was ready to extend the invitation, I wanted a dish that would dazzle, so I turned to Amanda Hesser’s “Cooking for Mr. Latte” because the recipes in it are some of the best I’ve done. Seriously: the almond cake, vanilla bean loaves, the Arborio rice salad are all things I plan to make again and again and again.
On pg. 201 I found the answer: “Pork Braised in MIlk and Cream.” Not only was it prominently placed in a reliable recipe source, it’s a recipe by one of my favorite New York chefs: Gabriellle Hamilton of Prune. Favorite chef, favorite recipe source. I was destined for glory.
Now it’s important to note that braising pork in milk and cream is not a new idea by any means. Marcella Hazan has a recipe for it, as does Mario. It’s a technique that might frighten the squeamish because the milk is supposed to curdle a bit and make a “broken pudding” like sauce. That actually didn’t happen with mine, maybe because I didn’t get the milk hot enough? But any fears I had about it being too out there were allayed by the ingredients list, in particular the 20 cloves of garlic, the 20 sage leaves, and the rind from 3 lemons. “How could that taste bad?” I asked myself and that’s the single most important question you can arrive at when choosing a recipe. If, after reading a recipe, it seems impossible that it would be bad, then it is safe to proceed.
So here’s how to make it. Buy a 2 lb boneless pork loin from your butcher or grocery store. My store only had a tenderloin which, I know, is a less choice cut of meat because it lacks the fat of a regular loin, but I rolled with the punches. 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 (my choice) 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 2 cups milk, 2 cups half-and-half and 2 cups of cream. (My friends later asked why not 3 cups milk and 3 cups cream? Why the half-and-half? I didn’t have an answer.) 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 (that’s important to do here—I tasted it, to make sure it tasted great.)
Partly cover and simmer until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center reads 140 (15 to 30 minutes). Thats key! Pork at 140 is PERFECTLY cooked pork. The reason this dish was such a triumph was the pork was super juicy inside–that’s because it was cooked to 140. Get thee a thermometer.
Once there, turn off the heat and allow the pork to cool. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.
That’s all the cooking! When it’s time to eat, pull the pork from the milk mixture (which may be a custard–I don’t know, because I didn’t have time to really refrigerate it) 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. This is what it looks like on the plate:
Whoah! Your electrodes just blew the circuit breaker. You have great taste in food, my friend. Oh, and based on the other images hidden in the text, you’re gay.