Maiale al latte (pork in milk) is a simple dish with amazing flavor from the nutty milk sauce.

Maiale al latte and leeks in a small bowl.

 

It’s really as simple as seasoning the pork with salt and pepper, searing it in a large pot and covering it in milk to braise.

What Is Maiale Al Latte?

Maiale al latte is pork braised in milk.  There are plenty of variations on this dish but at its core, it’s just pork, salt, pepper and milk.   Some recipes call for a pork loin (lonza) while others use various cuts of pork.

This maiale al latte recipe of ours adds ingredients like lemon, white wine, herbs, and chili flakes.  They are great flavors that compliment the milk braised pork.  We use a pork shoulder for the added depth of fat and to prevent the pork from drying out.

Milk Braised Pork Shoulder Ingredients

  1. 4-5 pound pork shoulder – Tying the shoulder up is good practice and helps it stay together during the braising.
  2. 2 Tbsp olive oil – For searing the shoulder.
  3. 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  4. peel of 2 lemons – A large peel from each lemon.
  5. 1/2 tsp chili flakes – Optional or add more if you like it spicy.
  6. 10 cloves garlic
  7. 1 cup dry white wine – Pinot Grigio works well.
  8. 4 cups milk
  9. 3 bay leaves
  10. 15 sage leaves
  11. salt/pepper
  12. 4 leeks – Optional ingredient that can be cooked in the milk right at the end after the roast has been removed from the pot.  They are nice to serve as a side to compliment the rich pork.

How To Make Maiale Al Latte Step By Step

Maiale al latte process shot collage group number one.

  1. Ingredients shown: lemons, garlic, butter, Pinot Grigio wine, chili flakes, bay leaves, and sage.
  2. Start by removing a big peel from each lemon with a vegetable peeler.  Rough chop the garlic cloves.  Preheat the oven to 325f and place rack in the middle.
  3. Pat the shoulder dry with paper towels and season aggressively with salt and pepper on all sides.  About 1-1 1/2 Tbsp of kosher salt and 1 tsp of black pepper.
  4. Heat a large heavy pot on medium high heat with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil for a few minutes. Sear the shoulder on all sides (20-30 minutes total).

Maiale al latte process shot collage group number two.

  1. It should be nice and brown on all sides like shown.
  2. Remove the pork shoulder from the pot and set aside.  Drain the pork fat from the pot.
  3. Lower the heat to medium, wait 2 minutes then add the 1/2 stick of unsalted butter.
  4. Add the garlic, lemon peel, sage and chili flakes.  Saute for 2-3 minutes until the garlic is lightly golden.

Maiale al latte process shot collage group number three.

  1. Add the wine and scrape the bits off the bottom of pan with a wooden spoon.  Let the wine cook for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the milk to the pot and stir to incorporate.
  3. Return the pork shoulder to the pot, cover, and place in the oven.  Set timer for 2 hours.
  4. If opting to use the leeks, clean and rinse them at this time.

Maiale al latte process shot collage group number four.

  1. After 2 hours check the pork shoulder temperature with an instant read thermometer.  Cooking the shoulder to 185-190f will keep it from shredding, and allow slices, while remaining tender.  If you would like to shred it, the shoulder should be cooked to a 205f internal temperature.     Crack the lid and continue to cook in the oven for about 1 more hour checking the pork temp every so often.
  2. When the desired doneness has been achieved remove the pork and set aside lightly covered with foil.
  3. The shoulder slices up nicely and remains very juicy when cooked to 190.
  4. If using the leeks place in the pot and cook for 10-15 minutes covered to soften them up.  Place the pot on the stove top and remove the leeks.  If the sauce is too thin, cook it on medium-high on the stove top for 20 minutes to slightly thicken.  Taste test the sauce and add more salt and pepper if required before serving.

Pork In milk sliced and in platter with leeks.

What To Do About The Pork In Milk Sauce Separation

The milk and the curds separate during the cooking process and create, depending on your point of view, a beautiful presentation or something not so desirable.  Straining them out is an option.  I do not recommend this, as there’s a lot of delicious nutty flavor in them.

If you would like to try to take the curds out, add a slurry of corn starch and water to the sauce. Bring to a simmer and whisk the sauce to incorporate.  Additionally, adding heavy cream to the sauce will help somewhat.  Again, the break down and curd filled sauce is what is desired in maiale al latte.  Just ask Marcella Hazan.

What Type Of Pork To Use

  • Pork shoulder – This is our preference as a lot of pork tends to be quite dry and lack any fat these days.
  • Pork loin – (lonza di maiale al latte)  Try to get a nice good quality loin.  Cook the loin to 145f internal.
  • Pork chops – Double cut pork chops work well in this milk braised pork recipe.  Reduce the amount of wine and milk by about 2/3’s to just cover the chops.  The internal temp on the chops should be cooked to 145f.

Maiale Al Latte Difficulty Level

On a scale of 1-5 with 1 being easy this braised pork shoulder in milk is a 2 1/2.  Only thing to keep in mind is the internal temperature, especially if using a pork loin.  Remember cook a pork loin to a 145f internal temp.  The shoulder, which this recipe calls for, will be much more forgiving.  If the temp goes over 200-210f on the shoulder, just shred it.  It will still be amazing!

For the sauce, feel free to crank the heat on the stove and reduce it to thicken it slightly before serving.

Milk braised pork shoulder and leeks plated.

So that’s how you make Italian milk braised pork.  Don’t forget the loaf of crusty Italian bread to sop up all the sauce and caramelized milk curds.

These Light Side Dishes Go So Well With The Rich And Hearty Maiale Al Latte

A simple light salad with oil and vinegar works especially well.

Other Hearty Main Courses:

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Maiale al latte Pinterest image.

Maiale al latte (pork in milk)

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 3 hours
Total: 3 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 12
Pork shoulder braised in milk, wine, lemon, garlic and herbs.  Makes the perfect hearty dish for a Sunday dinner.

Ingredients 

  • 1 5 pound pork shoulder
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 large lemons
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups milk
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 15 sage leaves
  • 1/2 tsp crushed chili flakes
  • 4 large leeks

Instructions 

  • Rough chop garlic.  Remove the lemon peel with a vegetable peeler.  Dry pat and season the pork shoulder aggressively with salt and pepper (about 1 Tbsp kosher salt and 1 tsp black pepper) on all sides.
  • Preheat oven to 325f and place rack in the middle.  Heat a large heavy pot to medium-high heat and add 2 Tbsp of olive oil.  Sear the pork shoulder on all sides until fully browned (about 20-30 minutes). 
  • After shoulder is well browned, remove and set aside.  Remove the pork fat from the pot by draining or with paper towels.  Turn heat to medium and add the butter, garlic, lemon peel, sage, bay leaves and chili flakes.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the wine and cook for 3-5 minutes more.  Scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to remove all the good flavor bits.
  • Add the milk to the pot and stir it all together.  Place the pork shoulder back in the pot and cover.  Place in the oven and set timer for 2 hours.  Turn the pork over at 1 hour mark to achieve more even cooking.  After 2 hours, crack the lid and continue to cook until the pork shoulder achieves a 190f internal temperature.
  • When 190f has been achieved remove the shoulder and set aside lightly covered with foil.  If using the leeks add to the pot and cook for 10-15 minutes until soft.  Taste test the sauce and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.  Slice the pork and serve with the milk sauce on top.  Enjoy!

Notes

  • If the sauce is too thin before serving, remove the pork and either cook it for 20-30 minutes longer on the stove top or add a slurry of cornstarch to thicken.
  • Salt and pepper was initially used on the shoulder prior to searing, but no other salt was added to the dish.  Adjust accordingly by taste testing the sauce right before serving and making final adjustments.
  • For any other pork cut, cook to an internal temperature of 145f.  For the shoulder, 190f is the goal.
  • Serve with crusty Italian bread for the sauce.
  • Leeks are optional. 

Nutrition

Calories: 669kcal | Carbohydrates: 9.2g | Protein: 47.3g | Fat: 48.8g | Saturated Fat: 18.6g | Cholesterol: 187mg | Sodium: 782mg | Potassium: 735mg | Fiber: 0.7g | Sugar: 4.9g | Calcium: 130mg | Iron: 3.2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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10 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made this for the first time this past weekend and WOW was it a hit! I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the curds, but they’re actually delicious! We sliced up the leftover pork and used it to make pseudo-Cuban sandwiches the next day. Soooo good!

    1. Hi Carly, this is exactly what is supposed to happen – there should be curds in the sauce. I address this in the post in the section “What to do about the sauce separation”. If you find the curds undesirable and want to remove them, you can make a slurry of cornstarch and water (see the instructions in the mentioned section). Hope this helps!

  2. 5 stars
    Ciao!
    I’m Italian and my family has been preparing pork braised in milk for decades (literally). My family in Modena, Italy taught us how to prepare it. It is truly one of the best recipes! I’m excited to have found your blog!

    1. Hi Roz! You’ve been making it longer than I have for sure. Do you dip bread in the sauce? We love it that way! Thanks for checking out my blog!

  3. Hey man, I’m so excited to have found your blog. I love it! I’ve made a version of this dish before, and really liked it. The milk does amazing and mysterious comfort-foody things to the pork. I’ve never made this particular version, though, Maiale Al Latte. Sounds like one of my Starbucks orders. So, I see from your “about” page that you’re a New Yorker living in MN. I’m a former New Yorker living in Chicago. I have friends and family in Minneapolis, and I love it there. Very cool vibe. But man, the snow! Anyway, excited to follow your blog.

    1. Thank you Jeff. I lived in Minnesota for 3 years and just made the move back to New York. It definitely was a great place, and yes the cold was on another level! And thanks for checking out the recipe and the blog!

  4. I’ve never seen this technique before and I can’t wait to give it a go. The browning you have going on in that pot looks SO delicious! Whole dish sounds fabulous.