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Arrosto di Maiale Al Latte (Milk-Braised Pork)

Milk-Braised Pork
Kevin Weeks for NPR /

This recipe started appearing on food blogs back in 2006. I suspect its popularity stems from the fact that it's so surprisingly delicious. I've modified the original by adding fresh, chopped sage to the braising liquid and thickening it with beurre manie, or "kneaded butter," a mixture of butter and flour. The dish appears simple, yet it's extraordinarily rich, deep, bold and complex. Best of all, it's a great choice for a large group because you can pretty much put it in the oven and forget about it.

Makes 16 servings

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

6-pound pork loin roast or 2 3-pound roasts

4 to 6 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

1 quart whole milk (don't use low-fat or skim)

12 whole cloves garlic, peeled

2 teaspoons rubbed, dried sage

Allow roasts to warm on the counter for 2 hours.

Thoroughly blend butter and flour (beurre manie) in a small food processor or using a hand mixer; set aside.

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a large, heavy roasting pan over medium-high heat. Generously season pork with salt and pepper, then brown on all sides in the roasting pan. Pour out the fat in the bottom of the pan. Add milk and garlic (the milk should come halfway up the sides of the roast), cover pan tightly with a lid or aluminum foil and place in the middle of the oven.

Cook for 1 hour. Turn roast over, replace cover and cook another hour. Turn roast over again and cook 30 minutes more, still covered. Remove from oven and set roast on a cutting board, covered with foil, and allow to rest 10 to 15 minutes. Pour milk sauce into a blender, scraping out all the milk solids, and blend until smooth.

Pour milk sauce into a sauce pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in butter and flour mixture and continue to simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 4 minutes.

In advance: Prepare and start cooking roasts 3 1/2 hours before planned serving time. If you need to delay serving, turn off the oven after cooking for 2 1/2 hours and leave the roasts in for up to 30 minutes before pulling from oven, resting, and serving.

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