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Milk-Braised Pork Shoulder with Fennel and Cannellini

Servings: 6 to 8

In Italy, particularly the Emilia-Romagna region where dairy reigns supreme, they’ve been braising pork in milk for centuries. The lactic acid in the milk helps tenderize the meat, giving it a more satiny and luxurious feel, while the milk cooks down to a rich sauce. This recipe marries the classic technique with an American pot roast, combining the meat and vegetables into a one-dish meal. Learn how you can create your own customized pot roast recipe.


  • 3 to 4 lb. boneless pork shoulder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped leeks
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 5 large carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 large ribs celery, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 Tbs. anchovy paste
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups fennel wedges
  • 2 cups canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 390
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 160
  • Fat (g): 18
  • Saturated Fat (g): 6
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 9
  • Cholesterol (mg): 110
  • Sodium (mg): 660
  • Carbohydrates (g): 15
  • Fiber (g): 4
  • Sugar (g): 3
  • Protein (g): 37


  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 325°F. If you want neat slices, use butcher’s twine to snugly tie the pork shoulder every 2 inches or so down its length; otherwise, leave it untied. Season all over with salt and pepper.
  • In a 6- to 7-quart Dutch oven or other deep, heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook, adjusting the heat as necessary and flipping once about halfway through, until well browned on both sides, about 15 minutes total. Transfer the pork to a large plate and set aside. Discard all but about 2 Tbs. of the fat.
  • Return the pot to medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic, and cook, stirring often, until softened and golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in the carrots and celery, and cook until they begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes more (you are not going to cook them completely at this point).
  • Add the sherry and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping up any brown bits, until reduced by about half, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Stir in the milk, anchovy paste, rosemary, bay leaves, and 1 tsp. salt. Return the pork and any of its accumulated juices to the pot, nestling it into the liquid and vegetables. (If necessary, spoon some of the vegetables into a bowl temporarily to make room for the pork, and then spoon the vegetables back over the top.)
  • Bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with a single layer of foil and then a heavy, tight-fitting lid. Transfer to the oven, and cook for 1-1/2 hours.
  • Carefully uncover the pot and gently stir in the fennel, flipping over the pork in the process. Re-cover with the foil and the lid, return to the oven, and continue cooking until both the meat and vegetables are very tender, about 1 hour more.
  • Using tongs, carefully transfer the pork to a cutting board or large platter. Remove and discard twine, if using. To suit your needs, either slice the pork against the grain for serving, or use a fork to pull apart the meat into thick chunks, discarding any unwanted fat.
  • Remove the bay leaves from the braising liquid.  If you don’t like the milk solids that result after cooking, strain and discard them. If you like, use a spoon to skim off as much fat as possible. Stir in the cannellini beans, as well as additional salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for a few minutes until the beans are warmed through. Using a slotted spoon, arrange the vegetables around the pork and garnish with the parsley. Spoon some of the braising liquid over the top of the meat and vegetables, serving the extra on the side.


The milk may curdle during the long braise, but to some cooks (including the legendary Marcella Hazan), that’s a bonus. If you don’t like the look or texture of a curdled sauce, simply strain it before serving.


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Reviews (2 reviews)

  • SherryNolte | 09/23/2019

    I wonder if you could use soaked, dried beans. Seems they would cook in 2-1/2 hours and would have more flavor than canned if cooked with the other ingredients.

  • Krispie | 02/08/2018

    Delicious and easy. Definately a keeper.

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