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Milk-Braised Pork

Written By Culinary Pen on Sunday, November 1, 2009 | 7:11:00 PM

On Saturday I made what may be my last trip for raw milk this year. Sure, I can still buy a gallon here and there at the co-op, but the next two months are a very busy time for me at work. While I'd love the chance, I don't think I'll have the free time until after New Years for a trip. Plus, this will also most likely be one of the last times the milk is sourced from cows eating lots of fresh grass. While the cows still have access to the outside during winter, their feed is supplemented since all the grass is dead under snow, which makes for fewer nuances in the milk. The Dutch actually celebrate the spring grass (and the added flavor it gives cheese) with a cheese called "graskaas," made from the first milking of the cows after they gorge themselves on the fields. Really. Here's a youtube video of the cows dancing out to the field from one of the Dutch dairies (Again, really.)

Along with my milk for cheese making, I also grabbed a gallon for drinking and using in the kitchen. Impressed with the depth of flavor the raw milk gave my white gazpacho this summer, I thought it would be fun to do an entree that would really take advantage of the milk's flavor. So I decided to braise a pork loin in raw milk.

First I tied up the loin with twine. This is just for looks (although the twine does help to lift the loin up out of the simmering milk when you need to scrape the pot), so you can omit it. I like it because it keeps the loin in a uniform column-shape. The binding make sure the loin doesn't deflate into a flattened oval as it cooks. Next, I browned it on all sides, then browned a mix of chopped celery, onion, and garlic. Once everything was nicely burnished, I added two cups of milk, a bit of thyme, a bay leaf, white pepper, and 5-6 sage leaves.

The loin happily simmered on the stove for about an hour, while I scraped the bottom of the pan from time to time, getting all the good caramelized bits up. To complete the fall meal, I made some sides of roasted vegetables (turnips, acorn squash, and yellow squash) and a caramelized onion tart. I had some blood oranges, so I made a gremolata to spark up the flavor of the finished pork. Along with the standard parsley and raw garlic, I added the blood orange zest and pine nuts to make a zesty topping.

Perhaps I'm just too enthused with raw milk right now, but I really loved the way this pork came out! The cooked down milk was rich, grassy, and savory-sweet. Unlike a cream sauce, it didn't feel heavy, but still made you feel immensely satisfied to eat it. Scrubbing up the milk with my last bite of pork, I realized that this dish needed some biscuits for sopping. Next time I'll be prepared.
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