1.6-2kg pork shoulder, skin removed (use to make crackling)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
20 sage leaves
peeled rind of 2 lemons and juice of 1
800ml full-fat milk, heated
1.2 litres vegetable stock
1 teaspoon salt
200g instant polenta
50g butter, cut into pieces
50g freshly grated parmesan

This is not the most attractive dish as the milk curdles into rich dark nuggets, but it is flavoursome and homely. It’s usually cooked with a loin, but I prefer to use a shoulder cut. If it comes with skin I usually remove it and make some crackling. Depending on the coarseness of the grain, the polenta can use more liquid than most instructions specify. I use a rough ratio of 1 part polenta to 5-6 parts water, but if you keep some boiling water on hand you can adjust the consistency if necessary. I’ve used a vegetable stock for the polenta but you can use chicken stock or milk if you prefer.

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2.Season the pork generously with salt and pepper.
3.Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and brown the meat on all sides to a rich dark brown.
4.Take your time here as this is where the meat and sauce take their colour.
5.Remove the pork from the pan and pour off the fat.
6.Melt the butter in the pan, add the garlic, fennel seeds and sage leaves and cook until fragrant
7.Add the pork to the pan along with the lemon juice, rind and milk.
8.lace the lid slightly askew on the pan and cook for 1½-2 hours or until very tender, turning the meat every 30 minutes.
9.The milk will have reduced and curdled into rich dark nuggets.
10.Turn off the heat and allow the meat to rest for 15 minutes in the milk before slicing across the grain or pulling apart into chunks to serve.
12.Bring the stock to the boil in a medium saucepan then add the salt.
13.Make a whirlpool in the water with a whisk.
14.Use a jug to pour in the polenta in a thick stream, then bring to a boil, whisking constantly to ensure there are no lumps.
15.Cook for another 5 minutes, whisking regularly, until the polenta is coming away from the sides of the pan and is smooth in texture.
16.Add the butter and parmesan and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
17.If you aren’t serving it straight away, pour the polenta into a stainless bowl, dot with butter (which helps prevent a skin forming) cover with baking paper and foil and keep warm over a water bath.
18.Stir well before using.

Recipes & Food Styling Ginny Grant / Photography Aaron McLean / Styling Ellen J Hemmings

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