Blog of an aspiring foodie

Pork + milk = yum!

Posted by beer_chris on 17-May-2009

There are some simple equations that come in handy with food and cooking. 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon. 2 cups in a pint, 2 pints in a quart, 4 quarts in a gallon. 2 tablespoons of butter is always better than 1, etc. Last night at our ~monthly dinner  club I discovered ths new one – that pork + milk = yum. The theme for our club is typically something pretty simple, however Jaime and I have a bit of a reputation for picking something a little esoteric. Last time we hosted the theme was ‘Lawrys’ – every dish had to have a Lawrys spice product included. This made for some challenges, especially with dessert, but we all had a good time with it.

With this dinner club coming right on the heels of our Ireland trip, I was a little stressed. Jaime had chosen the theme – fresh – nominally inspired by our Napa trip. Her plan was to pull together a flight of Napa-ish wines and my job was to figure out how to incorporate the theme into the main course – always the responsibility of the hosts. Given that our house was a disaster coming off of our trip and that I had no clue what I was going to cook, my stress levels really began to build as the week progressed. On about Wednesday, I determined that I would make my marinara sauce – since tomatoes are just now coming into season. However – what I was going to serve it with was a total mystery. I picked out my Marcella Hazan cookbook and looked for inspiration on Thursday night, and I found nothing. I needed a meat, and I didn’t want to just make chicken breasts or something pedestrian like that – I was really trying to come up with something that fulfilled a number of objectives:

  1. Stayed reasonably true to the theme of ‘fresh’
  2. Was something unique that I had never really made before (I like to make it a personal goal too cook something new for this dinner club)
  3. Was Italian and pairs well with my marinara without being forced

By Friday I realized I needed to get to business, so I went to Canino’s market to get my tomatoes and try and get some inspiration. I ended up buying 15 lbs of tomatoes as well as some really nice 1015 onions, and determined while I was in the store that I needed to at least pick a meat – so I chose pork. The menu started to come together in my head – smothered pork or some kind, with my marinara sauce over the slices/chops and some nice carmelized 1015 onions underneath. I also picked up 4 pints of ‘homegrown’ blackberries, just ’cause.

Friday night I pulled out my trusty Hazan cookbook once more – and on page 1 of the section on pork read these words:

“If among the tens of thousands of dishes that constitute the recorded repertoire of Italian regional cooking, one were to choose just a handful that most clearly express the genius of the cuisine, this would be among them. Aside from a minimal amount of fat to brown the meat, it has only two components, a loin of pork and milk. As they slowly cook together, they are transformed: The pork acquires a delicacy of texture and flavor that lead some to mistake it for veal, and the milk disappears to be replaced by clusters of delicious, nut-brown sauce.”

-Marcella Hazan, “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking”, p.417

Um, let’s see, I was looking for inspiration – I think I found it! Needless to say I headed over to my local meat market on Saturday (Bay Area Meat Market in Pasadena) and picked up a lovely tied boneless pork roast. I started cooking at 4 PM – a short three hours later I had exactly what Ms. Hazan described, and it tasted just as lovely.

The only ingredients that went into the pot were a few tablespoons of butter and about 4 cups of milk. In my opinion the dish was the definition of fresh, simple and tasty.

In addition, the couple assigned to dessert had something come up and couldn’t make it, so I was also able to use the blackberries and pull a cobbler together – again, very fresh, very tasty. I opened a bottle of Vin Santo I happened to have, and we had a nice end to the meal.

All of this and I still have my 1015s to use for something today!

No more freaking out for inspiration – a quick visit to Canino’s is all it should take to bring a true sense of freshness to the table, along with a good collection of lovely cookbooks like ‘Essentials of Classic  Italian Cooking’


One Response to “Pork + milk = yum!”

  1. Dr. Ricky said

    That sounds really good. Jamie Oliver coopted the same technique for cooking chicken. More or less.

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