Sounds strange? Trust me: it's delicious.
This recipe comes from The Moro Cookbook, which is one of my most favourite cookbooks of all time. I have all three books by Sam and Sam Clark, but the first Moro cookbook is probably the best. It is full of interesting and imaginative, robust and flavourful Spanish, Moroccan and Turkish recipes, many of which are reminiscent of summer holidays on the Med. I love the food of Southern Spain and north Africa, and this treasure-trove of recipes is one which I return to time and time again.
I have eaten at Moro, the restaurant run by Sam and Sam Clark, only twice, sadly. Its location, in trendy Hoxton, necessitates a long drive across London from my home in the leafy south-western suburbs. Having said that, it is well worth the effort, and the second time I went, I was joined by friends who have lived in Spain (the wife is from Barcelona), and who were able to select the most interesting tapas and wine. It was at Moro that I first tasted Zhoug, a thick, pungent, fiery green paste made from fresh chillies, which was served as a condiment for grilled squid....
Jamie Oliver has a version of this recipe, using chicken, in his Happy Days With the Naked Chef, and I have also seen it in The River Cafe Cookbook, as it is a classic Tuscan recipe (Arista al Latte). It's worth noting here that Jamie Oliver worked with both Sam and Sam Clarke (when they were at The Eagle gastropub) and at The River Cafe before he made a name for himself as The Naked Chef.
It's important to use full-fat milk for this recipe, something I do not usually buy as I detest it in tea, having been brought up on skimmed milk, but you really do need the creaminess of full-fat milk to produce the lovely, caramelly sauce. The pork, cooked in a milky sauce flavoured with garlic, cinnamon and bay leaves, is succulent and tender. I served this simply with rosemary roast potatoes and carrots with cumin. And lots of homemade bread. In the winter, I would probably serve it with red cabbage or mashed swede. In the summer, a simple green salad and new potatoes would be sufficient. My version is actually a conflation of both the Italian and Spanish recipes.
1-1.5 kg boned organic or free-range pork loin, with skin removed, tied
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, or a pinch of dried thyme
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cinnamon stick
3 bay leaves, preferably fresh
Several thin strips of lemon zest
Half a head of garlic, separated into cloves, unpeeled
1.5 litres milk
sea salt and black pepper
Trim the pork of excess fat and rub all over with salt, pepper and thyme. Place a large, heavy saucepan or Le Creuset type casserole over a medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the pork and seal until golden brown on all sides, but not too dark. Pour off any excess oil, add the cinnamon, bay, garlic, lemon zest and milk and bring to a gentle simmer, turning down the heat if necessary. Cook slowly with the lid half off for about 1-11/2 hours, turning the meat occasionally, or until the meat is cooked through, but still juicy and tender, making sure it does not catch on the bottom. The milk should have reduced into caramelised, nutty nuggets, and made a wonderful subtly flavoured sauce. If it needs more time to reduce, remove the meat until the sauce is ready. Taste for seasoning. Let the meat rest for 5 minutes before slicing.