Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Butt Ugly, but oh so good!

Boston Butt is not really a butt -- it's a pig's shoulder. It's one of the best cuts to use for a braise since it's tough and fatty and has lots of connective tissue. After 3-4 hours in the pot, it turns into fall-of-the-bone deliciousness. There are many great braising recipes for pork, but none as wonderful in their simplicity as Bolognese Style Pork Braised in Milk.

This dish is the ugly duckling (or should I say "ugly piglet") of the Italian cuisine. As the pork braises, the milk curdles and the sauce looks like something went badly wrong. Don't worry -- that's what's suppost to happen. It might not look pretty, but it all tastes great: the pork, the milk curds, and the separate liquid infused with lemon, garlic, and sage.

Unfortunately, I lost that Saveur magazine where I first saw this recipe couple of years ago, but here is my interpretation.

Note: If you live in Boston area, John Dewar is a great place to buy Boston butt. Yes, I know their prices are normally outrageous ($30/Lb for rack of lamb anyone?), but I got my Boston butt there for only $2.99/Lb. No, there is no typo -- the decimal point is after the 2 :)

1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Lb pork shoulder or roast
8 cups of milk (roughly)
6 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
10-12 sage leaves, whole
Zest of 2 lemons, taken off with a vegetable peeler
Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 300F.
  2. Dry the pork on paper towels and season heavily with salt and pepper.
  3. Set a heavy pot that is deep enough to fit the pork over high heat. Add the oil and wait for it to heat up. Add the pork fatty side down and let it brown. Turn it several times until it is brown on all sides.
  4. When you place the pork on its final side, turn down the heat to medium, add the garlic and cook until it is golden.
  5. Add the sage leaves and lemon peel and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  6. Pour in enough milk to barely cover the pork. Season milk generously with salt (taste and correct seasoning), and bring to a simmer.
  7. Partially cover the pot and set in the middle of the oven. Cook until the milk curdles and turns golden brown, 3-4 hours.

4 comments:

Diana said...

Oh, forget the Saveur magazine. Ms. Hazan has the recipe. Tse Wei cooked it several times, and it is, as you say, amazing.

And so un-kosher that you don't even want to think about it! The only way you can make it worse is by tossing some shrimp on top =)

Helen said...

Hi Diana,

Yup -- this is as un-kosher as it gets! So, ssh -- don't tell anyone from my high school :) I went to a very religious Jewish school and look what I am cooking now!

I considered Hazan's recipe, but it doesn't call for lemon peel, garlic and sage that I like so much about this dish. But I should try her technique of adding milk a little at a time.

By the way, I have some butternut squash roasting as I type that I am mixing with pasta for dinner. Thanks for your inspirational post.

Julia said...

why do you say to remove the lemon zest with a peeler? Is it because you want to keep some of the white pith underneath? I thought that the white pith makes things bitter...

Helen said...

Hi Julia,

You remove the lemon peel with a peeler rather than a zester to keep it in large chunks. You need the lemon flavor without little bits of zest in your sauce. And yes, the white pith is bitter and you want to avoid it.

-Helen