15 March 2010

Rôti de porc au lait

I got the idea to make a pork roast cooked in milk from my friend CHM. He told me a few days ago in an e-mail that he had made côtes de porc confites au lait — pork chops slow-cooked in milk. I had a rolled and tied pork shoulder roast in the freezer...

All the ingredients for the pork roast in milk

That reminded me of a pork roast cooked in milk that I made many years ago, in California. I'm convinced that the recipe came from one of my favorite French cookbooks, but I don't know which one. And now I can't find it. No matter — it's a fairly simple recipe, and there are many examples on the Internet.

Brown the roast on all sides in a big pot first.

The milk that the pork simmers in — with aromatics including carrots, onions, garlic, black pepper, bay leaves, and herbs — cooks down to make a tasty sauce for the meat and the vegetables you serve with it. If you want a richer version, you can strain the milk, add some cream, and reduce the sauce on top of the stove. You can also thicken it by adding a little cornstarch or potato starch dissolved in cold water.

Here's the roast in a baking dish with the boiling milk
and partially cooked aromatics poured over it.

Milk — the lactic acid in it — really tenderizes the pork. After two hours of cooking, the roast starts to fall apart. It's the just opposite of the dry and stringy pork you might have had before. You can cook a chicken the same way, but with the addition of lemon and sage for flavors that really complement the flavor of poultry. Sage would also be good with the pork roast.

The pork starts to fall apart after 2 hours cooking,
especially when you untie it.

Here's the recipe:
Pork Roast Cooked in Milk

1 rolled and tied pork roast (1 kg or 2½ lbs.
1 qt. milk (a liter or less)
2 small onions (or large shallots), sliced
3 carrots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
3 bay leaves
4 sprigs of thyme (or 2 tsp. dried thyme)
1 pinch of grated nutmeg
3 cloves (or 3 allspice berries)
10 black peppercorns
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. heavy cream (optional)

Preheat the oven to 300ºF/150ºC.

In a heavy-bottomed, high-sided pot large enough to hold the pork, brown the roast well on all sides in the butter and oil. When it's browned, take it out of the pot and pour off all but about a tablespoon of the fat.

In the remaining fat, sauté the sliced onions, carrots, and garlic until they are just beginning to brown. Add the bay leaves, herbs, and spices. Stir in the milk (or part of it, if you're not sure how much you will milk use in all). Deglaze the pan with the milk, adding a little salt but not too much because the milk will reduce as it cooks. You can always add salt at the end of the cooking.

Put the roast in a high-sided ovenproof dish and pour the milk mixture over it. Pour in enough milk to nearly cover the roast, but don't submerge it completely.

After 2 to 2½ hours in the slow oven, the meat will be done. Take it out of the dish and keep it warm. Strain the remaining milk into a saucepan, discarding the vegetables and spices. (Actually, I picked out the carrots to serve with green peas and mushrooms along with the pork). Reduce the milk to taste and enrich it with a little cream. Add salt if needed.

Serve slices or chunks of the pork with pasta, rice, or potatoes and green vegetables like peas, broccoli, or green beans, all topped with some of the milk sauce.
* * *

By the way, the Socialists polled 29.5% in yesterday's French regional elections, vs. 26.2% for President Sarkozy's UMP party. The second round of voting is next Sunday. I'll be in North Carolina.


  1. i have done a lot of cooking, but have never cooked anything in milk.....sounds & looks great......was that a bonelsee pork loin?

  2. My sister used to make a roast chicken with cream poured over it during the cooking, and stuffed with an orange, cut into pieces, along with some herbs-- must have been a spin-off of this type of recipe. This looks very good!

  3. We often cook fish in milk but never meat. Does the milk tenderise it more than just stock or water (hopefully avoiding another "the English always boil their meat" debate !)?

  4. Jean, yes, I think milk tenderizes meat more than water or broth does. It's the acid. Wine, vinegar, or fruit juice does the same.

    Melinda, it was a boneless shoulder roast, but many of the recipes call for tenderloin or loin.

    Judy, that chicken with cream and orange does sound good. I have to try that. The other recipe I saw, using lemon and sage, also sounds good.

  5. Ken, You've just given me a fabulous idea for next Sunday lunch (I was running short of ideas).

    Have a good and safe trip to the US (and back) and don't forget to post, whenever you get the chance :) Martine

  6. I wonder how that would work with pork chops?

  7. Starman - It works fine with pork chops. But try to get them as thick as possible. Those I used were [too] thin sliced and didn't work as well as I was hoping. But they were better than the usual. And the sauce was absolutely delicious.


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?