Monday, 3 August 2009

milk-braised pork & cavolo nero

As one of my 2009 Food Challenges I promised to Road Test Kalyn’s recipe for Milk-Braised Pork. In the recent cold weather in Sydney, I managed to tick it off the list and add this Italian comfort-food recipe to my repertoire.

I also used the opportunity to pair the milky sauce with the strong flavour of cavolo nero, my Weekend Herb Blogging theme ingredient this week.

I am a big fan of cavolo nero and kale in soups and I adore a big TV dinner plate of colcannon.

This sautéed recipe is a good side match to the pork recipe, but be careful not to overdo the chilli or it will detract from the subtlety of the milk-braising sauce.

Cavolo Nero Soffritto (Sautéed Tuscan Cabbage)

Anna’s version of an
internet recipe. Serves 4.

2 bunches cavolo nero
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small red chillies, finely sliced
Salt and pepper
Olive oil, for frying


1. Rinse cavolo nero and remove stalks if desired, chop coarsely.

2. Blanch cavolo nero in boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Dry well with paper towels.

2. Heat oil in large heavy based saucepan on a gentle heat.

3. Cook garlic and chilli until garlic is just starting to brown.

6. Add prepared cavolo nero and stir well to combine.

7. Reduce heat to low. Fry 5 minutes or until tender. Season to taste.

Milk-Braised Pork Chops
Anna's adaptation of
Kalyn’s adpatation from The Good Home Cookbook. Serves 4.

4 boneless pork loin chops
2 tablespoons wholemeal flour
½ teaspoon smoked salt
½ teaspoon freshly milled black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1½ cups (375ml) milk
2 tablespoons olive oil


1. Trim all fat from pork chops. Use meat mallet or something heavy to pound pork chops slightly until they are an even thickness and about ¾ inch thick.

2. Combine flour, salt and pepper in shallow bowl. One at a time, lightly dredge pork chops in the mixture, shaking off any extra.

3. Whisk 1/2 cup milk into the flour left in the bowl.

4. Heat olive oil in heavy (lidded) frying pan, big enough to hold all the pork chops. Add pork and brown well, about 3 minutes per side.

5. Pour out most of the pan drippings, add the milk-flour mixture then reduce heat to low and simmer (covered) for 30 minutes, stirring a few times.

6. Turn pork chops over, and add the remaining one cup milk, whisking to combine if needed. Cover and cook for 30 minutes more, stirring a few times.

7. Uncover skillet and if there is a lot of liquid, cook a few minutes more until reduced to about ¼ cup. (This will depend on how tightly your pan lid fits.)

8. Serve hot, spooning the milk gravy over the pork.

Instead of smoked salt and garlic powder, Kalyn uses Penzey's Pork Chop Seasoning which is flavoured with salt, hickory smoke, garlic, onion, white pepper and ginger. This probably provides a stronger flavoured sauce.

Cavolo Nero translates to “black cabbage” but in English it’s often called Tuscan Cabbage because it features often in Tuscan rustic cooking (cucina povera).

I’ve also seen it called “dinosaur kale” and “dino kale”. Anyone care to shed some light on that?

I think cavolo nero is simply beautiful to look at (dusty black-green leaves criss-crossed with wrinkles) and, if it wasn’t so rare and expensive (and tasty) in Australia, I’d be happy to keep a bouquet in a vase.

What I really like about cavolo nero is that it keeps it’s texture even after long cooking, so it can add crunch and chew to stews and soups. It’s most famously added to Ribollita, a Tuscan bean soup similar to Minestrone, only thicker in consistency.

The downside is when using it in recipes with short cooking periods you need to take care that it’s cooked through enough. I’ve made that mistake before and it’s not so pleasant.

Like more common cabbages, some people eat it raw but I don’t think I would.

Cavolo nero enjoys many nutritional traits similar to its common cabbage cousins such as low fat, low calorie and high levels of dietary fibre. It’s also high in iron, calcium, vitamin C and K, as well as carotenoids (which provide vitamin A).

This week’s WHB host extraordinaire is Dhanggit from Dhanggit's Kitchen, a Pinoy cooking and eating in Aix en Provence, France. She’s got some beautiful photos and lovely recipes, think Raspberry Vodka Granita, Tomato Mozzarella Millefeuille and Zucchini Flower Tempura. Check out her round-up and the other delights on her blog.

Other recipes using cavolo nero:
Baked Eggs w Cavolo Nero Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once
Braised Tuscan Kale w Tomatoes Lucullian Delights
Cavolo Nero Omelette Jam Faced
Farrotto with Cavolo Nero feelgood eats
Hearty Kale & Sausage Soup The Kitchn
Ribollita A Spoonful of Sugar
Sausage & Cavolo Nero Tortiglioni eat the right stuff
Strozzapreti w Black Kale & Sage Mimi On The Move
Tuscan Beans & Cavolo Nero on Toast Lucullian Delights
Warm Lentil, Chorizo & Cavolo Nero Salad stone soup



  1. This vegetable looks amazing! I must confess I have never tasted this before. I think in France they call this "blette", I'm not sure though! The recipe looks simple and delicious! Thanks for this healthy and yummy WHB entry!

  2. Great recipe. I made the sauce with a little bit of rosemary as well which gave it a nice kick. Thanks a lot!!

  3. amoveablefeast - rosemary would improve this quite a bit. the sauce was on the mild side for me, but with the rosemary you'd still get the true milk flavour with just a little something extra to boost it. thanks for the suggestion.


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