Pot Roast Pork in lemon scented Milk

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Leg of pork boned and rolled and ready to pot roast with milk, lemon fennel and bay

This slow cook dish is perfect for summer cooking. The flavour of the lemon  is deepened and complimented by the addition of fennel seeds. Bay leaves, one of my all time favourite herbs, add a balance and warmth to the caramel flavours of the cooked milk. At the end of cooking the meat is succulent and the skin soft a lightly browned. The milk should be curdled but the sauce thick enough to spoon.  

Most recipes for pork in milk suggest that you remove the skin from the pork and that you make crackling from the removed skin separately. I think this is a shame, firstly I am not sure that crackling goes with this particular dish and secondly you miss out on the additional flavour and soft unctuous texture that slow cooked pork skin supplies. However its personal choice so if you prefer to remove the skin then do and simply score the remaining fat and follow the recipe as indicated.

Ingredients

Serves 6

Cooking time 3 hours – 3.5 hours

2kg piece boned and rolled leg or shoulder of pork, skin either removed or scored

½ tablespoon light olive oil

1 large tablespoon fennel seeds

A good pinch of flaked sea salt

750ml bottle gold top milk

4-5 garlic cloves, skin on

Pared zest strips of two lemons

1 sprig of new growth Bay or 4 large bay leaves

Heat the oven to 200c/180F/gas6 top of the middle of the hot Aga oven

Method

NB  – First of all make sure that you dry the pork joint well and sop up any blood leakage before you put it into the casserole. Raw blood juices curdle the milk too sharply meaning that your sauce wont thicken during  cooking and you end with curds and whey rather than a thick creamy sauce. Don’t fret unduly though as I share my remedy with you at the end of the recipe.

Once dried put the pork joint into a large casserole pan that has a well-fitting lid. Rub the joint with the olive oil, scatter over the fennel seeds and the salt and massage in well.

Pour the milk over the pork and into the pan. Add in the garlic cloves – I like to keep the skins on as I think the flavour of the garlic is less overpowering, the pared lemons skins (be careful to leave behind as much of the bitter pith as you can – I use a potato peeler and very fresh lemons), and the bay sprig or leaves.

Put the pan without its lid into the hot oven for about half an hour or until the top of the pork begins to colour and the milk is bubbling around the edges of the pan.

Remove the casserole from the oven and reduce oven temperature to 170c/160Fan/gas 3 slow cook oven of the Aga. Turn the joint over so that the base is uppermost. Put the lid on the pan. Return the pan to the oven and cook without disturbing for  1.5 hours. For the final hour of cooking turn the joint over to its right side up, replace the lid and increase  the oven temperature to 180c/fan 170/gas5.  This temperature should allow the milk to reduce the skin to colour slightly.

When the joint is soft and cooked through remove it from the pan to a warm carving dish and rest it in a warm place while you finish the sauce.

The milk should be well reduced and the solids curdled to a spoonabley thick sauce. If not quite as you would like then pop the pan over a moderate heat and give it a gently bubble until the right consistency is reached.  Squash the garlic cloves with the back of a wooden spoon to release the soft cooked pulp and discard the skins. Work this pulp into the sauce. Remove the bay leaves and tip the sauce into a serving bowl.

Remedy for a very wet sauce:

If the liquid has failed to reduce and the curds are tightly curdled you literally end up with hot curds and whey. You will need to add a corn flour slake to the hot liquid to thicken the sauce.  Put 2 tablespoons of corn flour into a cup and add 2-3 tablespoon of water. Mix well.  Put the pan with the milk in it (the pork should be resting elsewhere by now) over a moderate heat and bring it to a gently boil. pour  in the corn flour water a little at a time, stirring until the correct consistency is reached – you will be after a thick gravy consistency rather than the spooning sauce above.  If you don’t like the curdled appearance of the thickened gravy simply strain into a clean jug and serve. Personally I don’t mind and I like the cooked lemon rind and seeds over the meat as they add flavour.

Serve with:

Serve with steamed fresh spinach or a crunchy green salad and lashing of fragrant new season potatoes.

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