Spanish Pork Braise
- 6 2 1/2-inch-thick pork shank pieces
- 1/2 pig's foot (optional)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes in juice, tomatoes coarsely chopped
- 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
- 3 dried ancho chiles*, halved, stemmed, seeded
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon Spanish sweet paprika (pimentón dulce) or Hungarian sweet paprkia
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 1/4 pounds smoked ham shanks
Garbanzo beans and gremolata
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 15 1/2-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- Large pinch of saffron threads
- 2 thin prosciutto slices, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds
- 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
- 4 thin prosciutto slices, torn into strips (for garnish)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle pork shanks and pig's foot, if using, with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy wide pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sauté shanks and foot until brown, about 12 minutes per batch; transfer to baking sheet. Add carrots, onion, garlic, and thyme to pot. Sauté until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add coarsely chopped tomatoes with juice, broth, Sherry, chiles, tomato paste, chili powder, paprika, cumin, and coriander. Bring to boil, scraping up browned bits from pan bottom.
Return shanks and foot, if using, to pot. Place smoked ham shanks in pot, arranging all in single layer. Return to boil. Cover pot and place in oven. Braise until pork shanks are tender, about 1 hour 40 minutes.
Tilt pot; carefully spoon off all fat. Simmer pork uncovered over medium heat until sauce thickens to desired consistency, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Pork can be made 1 day ahead. Cool about 30 minutes. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm over medium heat before continuing.
Garbanzo beans and gremolata
Heat oil in medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add beans, garlic, and saffron. Sauté until heated through, about 5 minutes. Mix in chopped prosciutto. Sprinkle beans with salt and pepper. Mix parsley, almonds, and orange peel in small bowl for gremolata.
Place 1 pork shank on each of 6 plates. Spoon sauce around. Spoon garbanzo beans around shanks. Sprinkle with some of gremolata. Drape prosciutto strips over shanks. Serve, passing remaining gremolata.
Braised Pork Cheeks (Carrilladas)
Slow cooked pork cheeks are a Spanish secret that I can’t believe we hadn’t discovered before a recent trip to Sevilla, Spain. We had ordered Cola de Toro, which is a braised oxtail that is cooked until it’s falling apart, at a small but well-reviewed tapas restaurant. The waiter explained to us that if we liked the oxtail, we really needed to try the “carrilladas” which were far superior.
Not knowing the unfamiliar Spanish word, I asked him what they were. He tried to explain, and finally pointed to his own face and tapped on his cheek. A word of advice: when a waiter in any restaurant enthusiastically explains how much he loves a dish, just order it. Which is what we did. And we were not disappointed.
The carrilladas arrived a few minutes later, chunks of meat smothered under a dark, rich sauce. The meat was so tender that it fell apart at the touch of a fork, and the flavor was meaty deliciousness. The luscious pork just melted in our mouths. We were now hooked on this traditional Spanish dish.
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This is an unusual cut of meat in some parts of the world, and as a result, if you can find them, they are usually very cheap. Don’t let that stop you – they are incredibly tender and flavorful. You should be able to to go to your local butcher a request them.
We’ve read about other chefs who’ve discovered the cut of meat who (somewhat) guiltily buy up the entire butcher’s supply whenever they find them.
Unlike many other slow-cook recipes, the cheeks cook relatively quickly. In this version they are simmered in a sauce featuring red wine, beef broth spiked with sweet paprika and cinnamon.
The carrilladas should be tender and bathing in a rich dark sauce in about two hours. It’s best to serve with bread or mashed potatoes, so you can soak up all of the delicious sauce. Finally, beef cheeks can be substituted for pork.
Here are the tastingspoons players. I’m in the middle (Carolyn). Daughter Sara on the right, and daughter-in-law Karen on the left. I started the blog in 2007, as a way to share recipes with my family. Now in 2021, I’ll still participate, but the two daughters are going to do more posting from here on out.
We participate in an amazon program that rewards a little tiny $ something (pennies, really) if you purchase any books recommended (below), or buy products occasionally mentioned on the blog with an amazon link.
No question, the most quirky book I’ve read of late, a recommendation from my friend Karen, West with Giraffes: A Novel by Lynda Rutledge. The book IS a novel, but the event is true. Back in the 1930s a small group of giraffes were brought across the Atlantic from Africa to New York, destined for the then-growing San Diego Zoo. On the voyage the ship encounters a hurricane and several giraffes are lost, but two young ones survive. The story is of their journey across the United States in the care of two oh-so-different people, both with a mission. A young boy (barely an adult) becomes the driver (his only goal is his desire to go to California), with the zoo’s delegate (a middle-aged man with a past), and it’s the story about these two misfits and their caring for the giraffes, feeding them (that’s a laugh – onions play a big part). No freeways existed back then, and the mental picture of the vehicle they used (basically a small truck) with the two giraffes confined within two tall boxes precariously strapped to the truck, and their driving and carrying-on getting under bridges and over rivers is just a hoot. I so wanted this story to be true – parts of it ARE true. Worth reading if you enjoy such animal stories. The giraffes survive, thankfully, and they both lived to a ripe old age at the zoo!
Also a kind of quirky book by Beth Miller, The Missing Letters of Mrs. Bright. Picture a middle-aged woman, slogging through life with a not-very-attentive husband, grown children, and one day she decides to leave. Completely. Maybe she had a bucket list of sorts, and she knew none of those places would ever happen in her life if she stayed put. She sets off to find a long-lost girlfriend. The book is about her journey. Her travels. Friendships, and lost friendships. Everyone can probably empathize with Kay Bright as she examines her life. And yes, there are letters and chapters with her daughter, Stella. Cute book.
Katherine Center’s book, Things You Save in a Fire: A Novel is certainly vivid. There aren’t very many women firefighters out there in the world – this is about one. A novel, however. About her work life and the harrassment she endures (some of it’s with love, some not) and about her relationships. The pros and cons of transferring to a different fire station (just like any job move, not always smooth). Good read.
Riveting story of post-WWII- Japan in Ana Johns novel, The Woman in the White Kimono: A Novel. About a young Japanese girl who falls in love with an American serviceman. Such relationships were fraught with problems from the very strict Japanese families who resented the American presence in their country, to the American military higher-ups who made it impossible for the servicemen to marry Japanese nationals. Could hardly put it down. Yes, it’s a romance of sorts, but not in the typical sense of today’s novel-romance-writing. There aren’t always happy beginnings, middles or endings, but the in between made for very interesting reading.
Also read Rishi Reddi’s novel, Passage West: A Novel with a very different take on the migration of Indians (East India) to the California agricultural lands east of San Diego during the 1920s and 30s. Wow. What an eye-opener. Of their small but loyal family enclaves, the hard-scrabble lives they led, the near poverty level of farming. I’d never heard that any Indian migrants were a part of farming here in California. Obviously they made up a very small percentage of the immigrants who settled there.
Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but the Mary Morris book, A Very Private Diary: A Nurse in Wartime tells the true day to day life of a young Irish girl who becomes a nurse, in England, France and Belgium in the midst of WWII and immediately after the war. Fascinating glimpse into the hardships not only for patients (the war-wounded) but for the underappreciated and hardworking staff at various hospitals (even a tent one in Normandy where she worked for many months after D-Day). She meets her to-be husband and even that is fraught with difficulty from many angles.
Could hardly put down Krueger’s book, This Tender Land: A Novel. My friend Ann recommended it. I was gripped with the story within the first paragraph, and it never stopped until I turned the last page. Tells the harrowing story of a young boy, Odie, (and his brother Albert) who became orphans back in the 30s. At first there is a boarding school, part of an Indian (Native American) agreement, though they are not Indian. Some very ugly things happen at that school. Eventually they escape, and they are “on the run.” With a few others with them. If you loved Huckleberry Finn, you’ll have a great appreciation for this story as they use a canoe to get themselves down river. Never having very much to eat and getting into trouble way too often, and authorities on their tail. Well, you just have to read the book to find out what happens.
Just finished Kristin Hannah’s latest book, The Four Winds: A Novel. What a story. One I’ve never read about, although I certainly have heard about the “dust bowl” years when there was a steady migration of down-and-out farmers from the Midwest, to California, for what they hoped to be the American Dream. It tells the story of one particular family, the Martinellis, the grandparents, their son, his wife, and their two children. The book is heartbreaking, but one of those that everyone should read. The hardship, the hunger, the dirt and dust, the failed crops, the lack of rain, then the story picks up again in central California, back in the day when the wealthy growers just used up the migrants. I don’t want to spoil the story. So worth reading. Hannah really knows how to weave a story.
Brit Bennett has written quite a book, The Vanishing Half: A Novel. It’s a novel, yet I’m sure there are such real-life situations. Twin girls are born to a young woman in the South. Into a town (that probably doesn’t exist) that prides itself on being light-skinned blacks. The father was very dark, but he plays no part, really, in this story. Growing up, the girls leave home at 18 to find their way in New Orleans. Suddenly, one twin disappears (her clothes and suitcase all gone in the wink of an eye). Her twin left behind has no idea what’s happened to her. As the story reveals, with divided paths, one twin continues her life as a black woman, and the other twin, the one who left, is able to pass as a white woman. She marries well, has a daughter. Well, let’s just say that there are lots of wicked webs woven throughout the story, starting from the girls’ mother who never wants to speak again of her lost daughter. But you know where this is going, don’t you? Things are found out. The author does a great job of weaving the story apart and then back together.
What a book. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict. A novelized biography of Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress. She was a brilliant mind, and a beautiful woman. It tells the story of her coming of age, how she navigated the world of acting back in that time period (she was Austrian, and Hitler was in power). The writing was very well done – to tell Hedy’s story with detail and poignancy. Eventually Hedy made it to the U.S. and her life story changed, but still had its difficulties. I loved the book, beginning to end. She should have become an engineer as she invented several war related bomb tools. Very much worth reading.
Also read The Secret of the Chateau: Gripping and heartbreaking historical fiction with a mystery at its heart by Kathleen McGurl. There are two stories here. The historical part is just prior to and up to the French Revolution, when aristocrats were chased and killed, guillotined in many cases. There is a young couple (part of the royal court) who escape to a remote small castle owned by his family, located on the edge of France and Italy, hoping to wait out the revolution and hoping the villagers love and care about them. Then jump to current day as a small English group of close friends decide to retire somewhere on the continent, and settle on a small abandoned castle in the remote hills of France along the Italian border. Got the picture? The historian in the group is quite interested in the history of the home, and clues are revealed (in the tower) that lead her and the group on a quest to discover what happened to the couple who used to live there. There was a fire once upon a time. There’s an pesky ghost. There’s also a very old child’s doll/playhouse on the grounds. Plus there’s a small graveyard. It is VERY intriguing. Very interesting. I love historical novels like this, and this one in particular does have quite a mystery involved, too.
Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. The story is all about Mary, her growing up, her scholarly pursuits, and then from the moment she meets Jesus as a young man. The story follows along to and beyond his death on the cross. In the time of Christ it was extremely uncommon for a man not to marry. It was almost unseemly. Fraught with suspicions, I’d suppose. Although scripture, as scripture, does not play a very strong part here, if you’ve read the Bible you’ll see many of the stories of Jesus’ life through Mary’s eyes. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?
Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. Her husband was a journalist, and his life was always in danger because he wrote the truth, and that was taking a risk. The story is about her escape, with harrowing chapters as she makes her way north from Acapulco, with various major detours, one step, or sometimes nothing more than a hair’s width ahead of the cartel minions trying to find her. I could NOT put this book down. The author is not Hispanic, and some have criticized her for that, but she did her research, and many authors write about places and people they are not. I have nothing but respect for her having told this story. You need to read this.
Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice, living in an English home which lacks much, leaps to agree to marry a visiting American. It was an escape for her. He is a man of some family wealth, and she travels from England to Kentucky, during the 1920s. Once settled into the family home, she discovers married life is not what she had expected. Affection is lacking, and she must share the home with her tyrannical father-in-law, the owner of mines in the deep mountains. And with the ghost of the deceased mother-in-law. The family cook won’t tolerate Alice’s help in the kitchen. Alice is terribly lonely and unhappy. The town doesn’t much like this English woman with her funny way of speaking. But then, she meets a woman who encourages her to join the Horseback Librarians. With trepidation, she begins traversing the remote hills, through unbelievable weather, to deliver old, battered and tattered books to the remote inhabitants of the area. She makes friends, wonderful, loving people from all walks of life. There is tremendous tension from the danger of the mines, the unions trying to get a foothold, plus the unraveling of her marriage, including the dreaded father-in-law who feels she should answer to him, behave as he wants. Uh, no. Alice goes her own route. Her new friends become her family, and, oh, what love. There has been much criticism of Moyes’ possible plagiarism of another book regarding the Horseback Librarians. I read the other book – but I didn’t feel remotely as intrigued by that story as I was by Moyes’ version. A feel good story, but it takes some while getting to that “feel good” part, nearly to the end.
Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat. It’s about Ellen. Her early years, under much hardship. About her teens, some of it as an orphan. Then a young adult, which includes marriage, a marriage blanc, which I didn’t understand until you learn the meaning. Then a child enters the picture, a child that will become a focus for the remainder of the book. Through the war, and beyond. I cried several times, as will you, I suspect. What’s a constant is the descriptions of the place, a town called Upton, near Southampton. About the hills and dales, the flora and fauna, the rain, the mud sometimes, the flooding sometimes. But throughout, it’s about neighbors caring for neighbors, and about love. A must read. Would make a really good book club read.
William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story.
Best book I’ve read recently. Not new. Called Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape. I stayed up all hours to keep reading. The book was written from the many journals and writing compiled by her children. Her name: Mary Ingles. And it chronicles her 1000-mile trek in treacherous weather and over uncharted ground. What an amazing woman, and what a story.
A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.
My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.
The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being regarding going to school and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. And then what happens to him as he grows up. Riveting.
It's not a diva like broiling. Instead, braising is a low-key and low-temp method of cooking, one that wins the race for deep cooking every time. Raise your culinary IQ by mastering this simple technique which begins with a quick browning and pan deglazing. You can also skip right to the simple mode of food preparation with a few of our rule-bending yet mouthwatering recipes. Easy does it with our delicious collection of braising recipes, which starts with the incredibly delicious Spanish-Style Braised Chicken shown here.
Just what is braising? In its truest form, braising is a beautiful marriage of opposites: A quick, high-heat sear meets a low and gentle simmer in liquid, so your star ingredient always finishes tender and steeped in flavor. It's also a marriage of convenience, since the whole affair happens in a single pot or pan. Now, let's dive into the finer points of this union. Braising starts with a sear: The main protein or vegetables are browned in a hot pan with a little fat, such as olive oil. Meat develops a deep, golden crust the sugars in vegetables caramelize. After the seared ingredients are removed from the pan, the next step is a sauté. Aromatics like herbs, spices, and vegetables are added to the pan and cook in the drippings. Next, you'll deglaze the pan by adding liquid such as stock or wine to loosen and dissolve the rich, savory bits, known as "fond" in French cuisine. The fourth step is a simmer: The seared hero returns to the pan and enough liquid is added to partly submerge it. The dish continues to cook, partially covered, in the oven or on the stove. Finally, the main element is removed, and the liquid is cooked down into a rich, concentrated sauce. Cream, tempered eggs, or flour can be used to thicken the gravy. Then, the elements are combined for serving.
The process is fairly simple, but it yields flavorful, complex results without requiring a ton of effort on the part of the chef. Plus, this cooking method is a fantastic way to transform even tougher cuts of meat into the most tender bites you could possibly want, but it's also a great way to cook vegetables. Simply put, it's a win-win technique. If you're ready to embark on your own braising journey, these recipe, selected by our food editors as their all-time favorites, should do the trick.
- 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 6 garlic cloves, divided
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon Pimentón de la Vera dulce
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium-size (9-ounce) yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and crushed by hand
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 cups chicken stock or lower-sodium chicken broth, divided
- 2 pounds baby Yukon Gold potatoes, halved
- 2 pounds Manila clams or cockles, scrubbed
- Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
- Lemon wedges and crusty bread, for serving
Season pork all over with 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and place in a large ziplock plastic bag. Smash 3 garlic cloves, and add to bag with wine, bay leaves, and Pimentón. Seal and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove pork from marinade, and pat dry. Remove and discard garlic and bay leaves reserve remaining marinade. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add half of pork, and cook, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer pork to a plate. Repeat with remaining half of pork. Chop remaining 3 garlic cloves, and add to Dutch oven with onion and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil cook, stirring often, until golden, about 6 minutes. Stir in crushed tomatoes, red pepper, and reserved marinade
Bring to a boil reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring often, 3 minutes. Return cooked pork to Dutch oven stir in 1 cup stock until pork is mostly submerged. Cover and bake in preheated oven until pork is fork-tender, 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Stir in potatoes and remaining 1 cup stock. Cover and bake until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.
Transfer Dutch oven to stovetop over high, and add clams. Cover and cook until clams open, 3 to 5 minutes. (Remove and discard any unopened clams.) Season with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread.
Pork estufado (estofado)
Estofado is from the Spanish word estofar which means to braise in a covered pan. Yes, there is an array of Spanish estofado dishes but the Filipino adaptation is a fusion of the traditional Spanish cooking method, Chinese seasoning (soy sauce) and Filipino ingredients (saba bananas). The inclusion of vinegar and tomato paste among the seasonings makes this wickedly delicious stew a cross between adobo and afritada.
Estofado is fairly easy to prepare. You only need to throw the ingredients in the pan and let everything cook slowly together until the meat is tender. There are a few things, however, that can spell the difference between a good estofado and a great estofado.
The first is about browning the meat and sautéing the aromatics. Most recipes say sauté the garlic and onion, add the pork and cook until the meat is lightly browned. I find the procedure more than a little bit strange because by the time the meat is browned, the garlic would be burnt. So, I cook estofado differently.
First, I lightly coat the bottom of the pan with oil. I add the pork cubes in a single layer and cook them until the undersides are browned. By the time I flip them over to brown the other sides, the pork would have rendered fat which makes the next stage of the browning easier and faster.
Why brown the meat at all? Because the caramelization of the natural sugars of the meat adds flavor to the dish. And also because the meat holds it shape better (see Do we really need to brown meat before braising or stewing?)
When the meat is nicely browned, I add the aromatics. There is more fat in the pan by this time. I toss them all together and let the aromatics do their work. By the time the onion pieces turn translucent, it is time for the next step.
The liquids and seasonings go in next. There’s vinegar, soy sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar and just enough water to cover the meat. Once the mixture boils, I turn down the heat, cover the pan and let the meat braise with those wonderful seasonings and aromatics for about 40 minutes.
The flavors and colors of tomato paste and soy sauce will be absorbed by the meat. The sauce reduces and thickens, and heightens the flavors in it.
By the time the meat is almost done, I add the vegetables. Potatoes are traditional I added carrots for more flavor and color.
Instead of sweet peas, I opted for green bell peppers which pack more flavor than peas.
While the vegetables cook with the meat, I fry sliced saba bananas in another pan.
By the time the vegetables are done and the pork is perfectly tender, I just toss in the fried saba bananas.
Braised pork belly (红烧肉/hong shao rou/red cooked pork)
Braised pork belly (红烧肉/hong shao rou/red cooked pork) is a well-known pork dishes prepared with a combination of ginger, garlic, and soy sauce and a myriad of aromatic spices over an extended period. The pork is cooked until the fat is gelatinized, and the meat attains the melt in the mouth texture.
Quick Braise of Pork Tenderloin, Apples and Potatoes
Braising (or stewing) meats and vegetables is a great way to tenderize tough cuts and get a lot of flavor out of them. Unfortunately, it's a method that takes time. And I don't like having a meal cooking for hours while the weather is still warm it just doesn't feel right.
So when the days are still temperate or I need a fast meal, I make quick braises that call for tender cuts of meat. The method is the same, but the ingredients require only 30 to 40 minutes of braising. The tricks are to use a flavorful braising liquid and to choose ingredients that don't need a lot of cooking, then cut them to make sure they cook fast.
Here, I reduce apple cider and chicken broth spiked with allspice to create a good liquid. Lean pork tenderloin is cubed and cooked with apples and potatoes. It's a one-pot meal packed with great flavor.
I cook this in a large, shallow braising pan, but any skillet or wok large enough to hold the ingredients would work. If you don't have a large enough pan, transfer the mixture to an ovenproof pot or Dutch oven to finish cooking.
If the dish seems watery after its time in the oven, return it to the stove top and reduce the braising liquid until slightly thickened. That will take only a few minutes, and it's not necessary to remove the other ingredients.
Tips for making Italian milk-braised pork
- Make sure you season the pork all over before cooking - you can even do this around 30 minutes or more before cooking so it acts as an additional tenderizer.
- Sear the pork well as you start cooking - this helps to add flavor to the final dish.
- Use a cast iron pot just a little larger than the piece of pork for the best cooking results.
- Use whole milk - skimmed or non-dairy milk just doesn't work the same, it really needs to be whole milk here.
- Turn the pork while cooking - this saves only part being submerged and the other side drying out.
- Skim the sauce before serving to remove any fat and excess thin liquid.
- Don't be scared of the curds! They may not look the tastiest, but they actually are. And if you still aren't sure, you can blend up the sauce to make it smooth before serving.
The milk gradually reduced and separates as everything cooks, as you'll see in the pictures below. It infuses with the garlic, lemon and sage which all make their way in to the pork.
This dish is traditionally made with pork loin, but I agree with some other recipes I found that I think shoulder is better as it breaks down more with the long, slow cook. You could also make this with lamb shoulder or chicken legs.
Spanish pork casserole
Heat the oil in a casserole dish over a medium/high heat.
Season the meat with salt and pepper and then, in batches, brown the pork on all sides – it is important not to overcrowd the pan. Once all the meat is browned, set to one side.
Add the sliced chorizo and fry for a couple of minutes, allowing the sausage time to release some of its flavour and brown slightly.
Add the diced carrot and onions, sauté for 5 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the fennel seeds, smoked paprika (or alternative), garlic and bay leaves, sauté for a another couple of minutes
Add the sugar and tomato purée, followed by the vinegar. Stir and allow everything to bubble for a moment or so.
Add the tomatoes, fill the empty tin with water and add that too.
Return pork to the pot and season with salt and pepper.
Bring to the boil and reduce to a steady simmer. Partially cover the pot with a lid and cook gently for about an hour and a half. Stir occasionally and top up with some water if it starts to dry out too much.
Add the butter beans, stir and continue simmering for another 15 to 20 minutes.
Taste for seasoning and garnish with finely chopped parsley just before serving. Serve with a light salad, some griddled bread, mash or rice and some sautéd kale.
Recipe reprinted with permission of The Muddled Pantry. To see more recipes, please click here.
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