Reggio Emilia is known for its wonderful food shops that sell superior food products such as prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, tortellini, lasagne, and a host of other specialties. It is also home to our dear friends Lorenza and Sandro Iori. Their house, a beautifully restored villa, has all the right touches — antique clocks, delicate glass, and blue and white china. One night Lorenza made a typical Emilian meal for us. The star attraction was a succulent, boneless pork roast cooked in milk, which resulted in a wonderful gravy. Lorenza cautioned that in order for this dish to be successful, the pork must be fresh, rosy pink in color, and uniformly shaped. Make the dish a day ahead.
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary needles
5 fresh sage leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 pounds boneless pork roast, tied
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 cups milk
2 tablespoons flour
Mince together the rosemary, sage, and garlic on a cutting board. Transfer the herbs to a large plastic zipper-lock bag and set it aside.
Wipe the roast with paper towels. Rub the salt and pepper evenly all over the roast. Place the roast in the plastic bag with the herbs. Close the bag and roll the roast in the bag to evenly coat the meat with the herbs. Set it aside.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a 10 - x 4-inch-deep Dutch oven or similar pot just large enough to hold the roast. Brown the meat on all sides over medium-low heat; this will take about 20 to 30 minutes and is the secret to flavorful meat.
Slowly pour in the milk almost to cover the roast. Cover the pot and cook over low heat for about 2 hours. As the roast cooks the milk will start to coagulate. When the meat is cooked, remove it to a dish and let it cool. Remove the strings, wrap the roast in aluminum foil and place it in the refrigerator.
Allow the remaining liquid in the cooking pot to cool. Place the covered pot in the refrigerator. The next day, skim of any fat that has accumulated on the surface and discard it.
Return the pot to the stove top and cook the liquid down until it is reduced by one-third. As it cooks it will turn a deep brown color. Remove 1/2 cup of the reduced liquid from the pot to a small bowl, and with a small whisk, beat in 2 tablespoons of flour until the mixture is smooth. Return the mixture to the pot and stir to blend the ingredients. Cook slowly for 2 minutes. Cover and set aside.
Cut the pork roast into 1/4-inch slices and return them to the pot. Slowly heat the meat in the gravy until hot and serve immediately.
This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA — BRINGING ITALY HOME by Mary Ann Esposito, published by St. Martin's Press in 2001.
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