November 13, 2017
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Braise That Pork Shoulder in Milk

This Italian method for cooking pork shoulder tenderizes the meat as it cooks and creates a buttery, rich, incredible sauce.

When the weather turns cool, I tend to embrace low-and-slow braising. But my biggest worry when it comes to cooking meat this way is overcooking—resulting in dry unpleasantness. A low and slow simmer in a flavorful braising liquid helps to lessen that degree of uncertainty, and braising in milk produces the most enjoyable sauce as it cooks down and concentrates.

While braising meat in milk is by no means a new or novel method, it’s also not a technique that I see very often. In fact, this technique was one that I first encountered several years ago on an extended trip to Ireland.

At first glance, this braised pork recipe may look like any other braised meat method. You sear the meat on all sides, reduce the heat, add some liquid, and simmer for several hours until it’s fall-off-the-bone tender. Enter the milk, along with white wine. The milk proteins help to tenderize the pork, which results in a tender piece of meat. I like to season the braising liquid with lemon peel, dried chiles, whole cloves of garlic, and fresh sage. The lemon adds acidity, the dried chiles supply a faint pop of heat (I added a few extra chiles since I prefer my food spicy), and the fresh sage leaves contribute an earthy herbaceousness that goes hand-in-hand with pork.

When it comes to buying pork, if you can, seek out heritage breeds such as Berkshire or Tamworth. Heritage pigs are prized for their juicy tenderness and porcine flavor. That “other white meat” business is a thing of ancient history. While milk braising requires a fair amount of cooking time (approximately three hours), it’s mostly passive cooking time. So you can go about your business or just relax on a weekend afternoon as the pork slowly simmers away.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 pounds bone-in pork shoulder
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 12 sage leaves
  • Rind of 1/2 lemon, peeled with vegetable peeler
  • 1-3 small dried chiles, more or less to taste
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed slightly with side of chef’s knife
  • 1 bottle dry white wine
  • 2 cups whole milk

For this Italian braising method, all you need is handful of ingredients, a little bit of prep, and a Dutch oven. Three or so hours later, you will have created a flavorful, succulent pork shoulder that will be certain to fulfill your craving for comfort food. If the milk separates into curds during the cooking process, don’t be alarmed—just give it a good whisk before serving to smooth it out.

  1. Heat olive oil in a thick-bottomed pot or Dutch oven big enough to accommodate pork shoulder. Season all sides of pork with salt and pepper. When oil is hot, place pork in pot and brown on all sides, searing the shoulder. Drain the oil.
  2. Add butter, sage, lemon rind, chiles, and garlic. Continue to cook until garlic begins to color. Add the wine. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook over low heat for 2 hours.
  3. Add the milk and continue to cook for another hour. After 3 hours, the meat should be tender and pull away from the bone.

Linda Schneider

Linda Schneider is a home cook who is obsessed with good food and all things local. Follow her adventures at Wild Greens and Sardines.

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