The Accidental Locavore has always been curious about a traditional Italian dish: pork cooked in milk, so when Food & Wine had a pork dish cooked in cream and Parmesan, it needed to be tried out. This needs time and some attention at the end, but most of it is pretty easy. Serves 6-8.
- 1 quart heavy cream
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 heads of garlic, tops cut off (about ½”)
- A piece of Parmesan cheese rind (about 3 ounces)
- 2 small sage sprigs
- One 5-pound, pork shoulder roast
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 3 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into wedges
- 4 small potatoes, quartered (optional)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
In a pot, or Dutch oven, just big enough to hold the pork, combine the cream with the buttermilk, butter, garlic, cheese rind and 1 sprig of sage. Season the pork with salt and pepper and add to the pot. Bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Cover, leaving the lid open just a crack, and cook over low heat for about 3 1/2 hours, until very tender. Transfer the pork and garlic to a large plate; discard the cheese rind.
Cook the potatoes (if using) in a pot of water, until the potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Boil the poaching liquid over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes. Strain the sauce into a bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste; keep warm.
Preheat the oven to 450°. On a large baking sheet, toss the fennel, potatoes and the remaining sage sprig with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer. Place the pork on top of it and roast until the pork is deeply golden and the fennel is tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.
My verdict: My husband walked by this dish while it was cooking at least three times and asked in not the happiest of voices, what it was and what was for dinner. Nothing like cooking for the non-enthusiastic. However, we both really liked the final results. The pork was tender, with nice crispy bits of fat and the sauce was delicious! I always forget how much flavor a piece of Parmesan rind can add to sauces and soups—definitely worth keeping around. This is more of a fancy, impress-your-friends dinner than a weeknight meal for two. I added the potatoes, but my instinct was to make some homemade pasta to serve with it—maybe next time. The thinner you slice the fennel, the better it will roast. Broccoli rabe would also go with this well. Make sure to squeeze out the garlic and mush it around with the pork and sauce, it adds another great layer of flavor.