Milk Braised Pork Shoulder Purple Pig Chicago

My recipe (top) and the original (bottom) from The Purple Pig in Chicago.

Milk Braised Pork Shoulder

Foreword By: Steven Rodia

On a recent trip to Chicago, I was fortunate enough to dine with the good people at The Purple Pig.  Everything that I sampled from their menu was excellent, but the one item that stuck with me was Chef Jimmy Bannos’ milk braised pork shoulder.  I have been wanting to make it myself so that I could experience some of that Tuscan, rustic flavor experience at home.  I’ve come across a few recipes, most notably the ones from Food & Wine and, that I used when making my take on this dish over the weekend.  I’m sharing it with you because I feel that it’s a straight forward and easy to follow recipe that produces delicious results.  This recipe pairs well with rosemary fingerling or mashed potatoes.

Total Time: 3 hours (30 min prep time and 2.5 hours cooking time)


  • 3-4lb Bone-in pork shoulder cut into 6-10oz pieces.  Save the bone to add to the cooking stock.
  • 2 Cups of chicken or pork stock
  • 1 Onion peeled, medium chop
  • 1 Carrot peeled, medium chop
  • 1 Rib of celery, medium chop
  • 6 cloves of garlic, fine chop
  • 1 Bunch of fresh thyme
  • 4 Bay leaves
  • 4 Cups of whole milk
  • 2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons of all purpose flour
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Olive oil

 Step 1

Cut your pork shoulder into 8-10oz pieces, reserving the bone for later.  You can tie your pork shoulder slices around the outside with butcher’s twine if you wish the shape to stay consistent.  Liberally apply salt and pepper to the pieces ensuring that all sides are covered.  Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a cast iron or non-stick skillet and bring to temp over medium-high heat until the oil begins to shimmer.  Sear off each piece of pork until all sides achieve a golden brown color (approximately 8-10 minutes).  Set the pieces of pork on a plate while you prepare the stock.  Keep the skillet with the drippings for making the gravy.

Step 2

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the chopped onion, carrot, and celery and cook until the onion becomes translucent (approximately 5-7 minutes).  Add the chopped garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.  Drop the heat to low and add the stock, 3 cups of whole milk, the thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and pork bone.  Bring the heat back slowly until the stock mixture begins to simmer (don’t worry if you end up with some curds in the milk) and add your seared pieces of pork shoulder.  The pork slices should be almost submerged in the liquid.  Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low.  Let the pork cook for 2.5 hours over low heat.  When it’s ready, the internal temp of the pork will read at least 145°F on a food thermometer and tear/shred easily with a fork.

Step 3

When the pork is ready, take 2 cups  of the braising stock, being careful not to get the thyme, bay leaves, or pork bone, and add it to a blender or food processor with 1 cup of whole milk, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of black pepper and blend until smooth.  In your skillet or non-stick pan that you used to sear the pork, melt the butter over low heat and add 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour.  Whisk together the butter and flour and add the blended stock, whisking as you slowly combine.  Continue to heat, whisking regularly, until you’re left with a gravy (approximately 8-10 minutes).  Turn the heat off to the skillet.

Step 4

Remove the tender pork pieces from the remaining braising liquid.  If you decided to tie them, cut and remove the butcher twine.  Cover them with some of the prepared gravy and top with finely chopped chives or parsley.  I served the pork in pre-heated mini cast iron serving bowls so that they would stay hot, but you can use any method you prefer.