Saturday, March 14, 2009

Friday Dinner: Milk-Braised Pork

Whaaaat? Pork again? Well, yes. When we find yummy-sounding recipes, particularly ones that sound yummy and simple, we don't turn them away. This one involved cutting slits into pork, inserting slivers of garlic, browning, and using milk as a braising liquid.

The verdict? I can't speak for Trix, but I thought this was a good recipe. If someone else made it for me, I'd eat it for sure with no qualms. But as something I make for myself, there are pork recipes out there that I like better, such as last week's roasting method, and would probably make again before I made this one. That may not be true of everyone. This was good pork, and I'd encourage you to make it so you can decide for yourself if this is one for your regular repertoire.

So why didn't I like it as much as other pork recipes? First, while the meat was tender, I don't think this one maximized pork's potential; the flavor, while pleasing, was a little bland. It could have been any meat. Second, for an otherwise simple recipe, the step of having to blend the braising liquid in order to turn it into a gravy for the meat wastes time and requires having to wash something that I usually find annoying/unwieldy to have to wash (my blender). Trix used low-fat milk and there weren't as many curds so she didn't have to blend her sauce, but the trade off was that it was the consistency of milk. Mine wasn't much thicker, but that could also be due to the fact that I was too lazy to remove the onions and blended them right into the sauce.

Neither Trix nor I could find pork roasts, which is what the recipe originally calls for, so she used a tenderloin and I used rib chops. I think any cut works; you just have to adjust the braising time accordingly.

As for sides I went the lazy route and prepared two things that could be roasted alongside the pork: asparagus and garlic potatoes. I washed, patted dry, and trimmed the asparagus (best method is to grasp the asaparagus toward the stem with both hands and bend it until it breaks -- it will break off at the point where tough meets tender), placed it in a baking dish, and seasoned with coarse salt, a dash of pepper, olive oil, and a tiny bit of truffled oil. For the potatoes I chopped Yukon Golds into bite-sized pieces and tossed them in a baking dish with Lawry's seasoned salt, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and 2 tsp of minced chives, then placed small dabs of cold butter, about 1 1/2 tbsp, over the top. While roasting I stirred both side dishes 3-4 times over the course of an hour. Trix made creamed broccoli and Ruth's Chris au gratin potatoes.

Milk-Braised Pork

  • 2-3 lbs pork roast, tenderloin, or chops
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 cups of milk, preferably whole
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive or canola oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cut slits into the pork and place a sliver of garlic in each. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan or Dutch oven. Briefly cook onions on high heat until they start to brown on the edges -- this shouldn't take very long. Remove to a dish. In the remaining oil, sear the meat on all sides until browned, 3-4 minutes per side.
  4. Transfer meat to a roasting pan unless you're using a Dutch oven, in which case the meat can simply be braised right in it. Pour in enough milk to just about cover the pork. Layer the onions over the top. Cover the dish.
  5. Place the Dutch oven or roasting pan into the oven and braise 1-2 hours -- if you're using a thick roast, cook it for longer; if using chops, an hour will do. When done, an instant thermometer will register 150°F when inserted into the center of the meat.
  6. When the pork is ready, carefully remove it to another dish or a cutting board if you're planning to slice it. You can remove the onions at this point or not -- your choice. They will be very limp, so if you don't want them as part of the sauce (they make it sweeter), you might want to strain it.
  7. If you used whole milk you will probably find many curds in the braising liquid. Transfer the liquid, curds and all, to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Pour the gravy over the pork. Serve hot.

Ruth's Chris Au Gratin Potatoes


  • 5 medium russet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1-1/2 tbsp flour
  • 1 large clove garlic, pressed
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp fresh black pepper
  • 1 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp finely chopped parsley


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut the potatoes into 1/4 inch slices, then quarter each of those slices.
  3. Beat together the cream, milk, flour, garlic, salt, and pepper by hand just until well combined.
  4. Coat the inside of a large baking dish with the softened butter.
  5. Arrange the potatoes in the dish and pour the cream mixture over them.
  6. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake another 40 minutes or until the potatoes are starting to brown on the top.
  7. Sprinkle grated cheese over the top and continue to bake for another 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and slightly browned and the potatoes are tender.
  8. Sprinkle parsley on top and serve.

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