Italian Pork Loin Braised in Milk

Italian pork braised in milk

Years ago my mother returned from one of her trips to Italy and just raved with glowing accolades about a pork roast that my cousin Lara, from Modena, prepared ‘in milk’, known as Italian Pork Loin Braised in Milk.   It is a very common, traditional, and classic technique to cook meat in sweet creamy milk throughout northern Italy, especially in Bologna. Milk’s lactic acid tenderizes the pork, breaks it down, making it very tender and receptive to soaking up the flavors in the sauce.

The process of cooking pork loin in milk not only results in a more tender roast, but also one that is extremely moist, delicate, and juicy. And it’s not just about the milk alone. There are oodles of olive oil, butter, garlic, onion, pancetta, capers and sage blending in the milk to make this pork so delicious. As the pork simmers together with the milk and a generous amount of perfect ingredients, a wonderfully rich, thick (yet satiny), golden/hazelnut brown sauce full of browned bits is created.

And we all know what those precious browned bits do to a sauce!

I have to warn you, this isn’t a beautiful entree to look at: The milk and additional ingredients cook into a curdled sauce as a result of the long, slow braising process. The onion’s and lemon zest’s acidity help the curdling which is the most desirable result of this brilliant Italian creation known as “Arrosto Di Maiale al Latte”. Italians just leave the curds in the sauce. It’s also important to use only whole milk (I also used a few cups of heavy cream) and never use any reduced-fat milk.

Having never heard of this in the States, I thought that this sounded like such a strange way to prepare a pork loin! So I share your skepticism as you read the name of this recipe! But after preparing it tonight and savoring every incredible bite, I am now an enthusiastic fan. It truly does live up to its acclaimed reputation.

This is sheer culinary genius . . . who would have thought? The pork, with a deep, flavorful, nutty sweet cream sauce just melts in your mouth! And if you’re like us and prefer your pork ‘fork-tender’ that falls apart easily, than don’t trim the fat off of the loin. The fat contributes to the pork’s texture and of course enhances the flavor.

On top of all of this, you won’t be believe how easy this is to prepare! The pork simply simmers quietly in the milk until all that remains is the thick creamy sauce with clusters of browned bits. OK, so you have to turn the pork occasionally, but that’s it! You can sit back and read, take care of the kids, enjoy some guests with a glass of wine or a cocktail or do anything during the hour and a half or so while the pork simmers on the stove.

Italian pork braised in milk

You’ll want to serve this entree with some hearty artisanal bread to soak up every drop of this heavenly, creamy milk-sauce on your plate.

Without the bread, you’ll end up licking the sauce off of your plate!

Italian Pork Loin Braised in Milk

What You Need:

  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 of a large onion, chopped finely
  • 6 Tbsp. pancetta, chopped finely
  • 1 2-lb. pork loin (select one with a nice amount of fat)
  • Freshly grated sea salt
  • Freshly grated black pepper
  • 3 cups hot whole milk
  • 2 cups hot heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. capers, crushed
  • 2 tsps. fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 leaves fresh sage
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest

Instructions

  • In a large, deep, heavy pan, melt the olive oil and butter on low (do not burn).
  • Add the garlic,onion, and pancetta and saute' for a minute or two (still on a low temperature setting).
  • Do not trim the fat off of the pork loin.
  • Generously (very generously) sprinkle sea salt all over the pork loin.
  • Sprinkle black pepper all over the pork loin.
  • Place the pork loin in the pan, fat side down and brown it thoroughly on all four sides on a low-temperature setting.
  • Do not burn the olive oil and garlic!
  • When browned nicely, add the hot milk, hot cream, capers, sage and lemon zest.
  • Taste the sauce . . . add more salt to taste preferences.
  • Partially cover the pan.
  • Simmer on the a low-medium setting on the stove for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, turning the pork loin over occasionally.
  • The milk sauce will bubble up, so stir it occasionally.
  • Continually pour some of the sauce (baste) over the pork as it simmers.
  • The color of the sauce should turn to a golden brown color; if not turn up the heat a little for a few minutes at the end.
  • Taste the sauce and add more salt if necessary.
  • After cooking time is finished, remove the pork.
  • Thickly slice the pork and place it on individual plates.
  • Pour the creamy, curdled sauce over the pork.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

Here is another absolutely wonderful pork loin roast recipe that I know that you’ll enjoy! It’s a family favorite in my home:

Perfect Roast Pork Loin

pork loin

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Comments

  1. says

    Very intriguing. I never would have thought of cooking in milk. I’ve often brined a pork roast before cooking but this is something new to try. Thanks for paving the way, Roz. (And you certainly managed to make the dish look very appetizing!)
    Sprigs of Rosemary recently posted..Hooray for Challah!My Profile

  2. says

    I have a similar recipe for pork braised in milk that I’ve done for years. It’s from Marcella Hazan and I was skeptical at first. However, Marcella had never failed me and she didn’t then. Your’s looks delicious.

    Best,
    Bonnie
    Bonnie recently posted..Senate Bean SoupMy Profile

    • says

      Bonnie,

      I have the same Hazan cookbook (actually I finally collected all three) and it is from Marcella that I used her foundation of this recipe and made my changes / additions to amp it up a bit more. She is certainly a classic herself!

      Roz
      Roz recently posted..Italian Pork Loin Braised in Milk My Profile

  3. says

    Pork tenderized with milk is brilliant. It’s like a V-8 moment. It seems so obvious in a way. As you can tell Roz, I’m not a skeptic but a fan. It’s not an accident that Italy is known for its superb cuisine =)

    P.s. I agree with you – skip the two percent and go with the whole milk and creams =)

  4. Nancy M says

    Thank you Roz – What a fabulous recipe! I made this today, following your recipe exactly, except for the omission of the capers (just don’t like them…sorry). The whole family loved, loved, loved this dish. It’s amazing how tender the pork was, no knives required! The sauce was delectable (it’s gotta be that whole milk & cream…yum), and a beautiful amber color to boot. Looking forward to a pork sandwich tomorrow with the smidgen of leftovers remaining.
    Can’t wait to see what’s next…my pots, pans and spatulas are standing by ;)

    • says

      Dear Nancy,

      I can’t thank you enough for such a wonderful compliment that 1) you made this recipe and 2) that your family and you were as delighted as we were with this unusual (in the U.S.) recipe. Your family experienced exactly the same thing that we did: delicious and oh so fork-tender! I’m glad that my additions enhanced the flavor for your family’s enjoyment! I’ll try my best to continue to prepare and post ‘keeper’ recipes for you!

      I wish you could email me with a contact address so that I can thank you directly! I understand though.

      Hugs!
      Roz
      Roz recently posted..Italian Pork Loin Braised in Milk My Profile

    • says

      Dear Catherine!

      Happy Mother’s Day! It’s been so busy with the end of the spring semester and I’m just now able to respond to your comment! Yes, this is a super delicious northern Italian entree. . . rich . . . and delicious!

      xo
      Roz
      Roz recently posted..Risotto alla MilaneseMy Profile

    • says

      Sherri, It is so delicious. I had another woman write and tell me how her family just loved it! It sounds weird, but it is really delicious! I’ll have to try it in a crockpot too, what a great idea!

      Let me know what you think, please,
      Thanks again,
      Roz

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