UnitedQ – Quiet Waters ‘Smoke & Fire’ Coppa Steak in milk and thyme braise.
This dish is made with steaks sliced from a whole pork collar muscle, which has great flavour and wonderful inter-muscular fat, which when cooked slowly, creates a lovely, tender protein in a great sauce. Perfect with braised Winter greens and roots.
From your cylindrical collar muscle, slice steaks a good 1 inch thick, ideally more like 1½ or 1½, if you have enough meat. Season the meat liberally and allow it to rest out if the fridge while you prepare the pan and other initial ingredients.
Heat some butter in an oven proof pan, large enough to hold all of the pork steaks you wish to cook, over the direct heat of a well lit fire, until it’s nice and hot and then add a generous amount of finely chopped garlic, which should sizzle nicely. Give everything a stir, and then add the pork steaks (in batches if necessary) so as not to overcrowd the pan and lose your heat. Brown one side, then turn and brown the other, until they are all nicely sealed with a good colour.
At this point, put all of the steaks back into the pan on a reduced or indirect heat. (The fire should have burnt down a bit and you can pull the coals across under the pan to achieve the desired temp, adding a little wood or charcoal to maintain as you go along). Drop a generous small handful of fresh thyme into the oil around the pork and some lemon zest (either grated or a few decent spirals of peel). Let this sizzle for a moment and add enough milk to all but cover the meat and let this gently simmer on a low heat (with a cartouche if necessary) for between 1 and 2 hours until the meat n beautifully tender, but not at the point of wanting to fall apart.
If you are cooking this ahead of time (which works really well), you can let the pork cool in what will be a thick creamy sauce (don’t be put off if it does curdle a little bit initially from the lemon, as it will all come good in the end!) so that it stays really succulent and doesn’t dry out. Then, carefully remove the steaks from the sauce and keep refrigerated separately until needed.
When you come to reheat, you can add a little brown stock and then reduce the sauce to thicken until nice and silky. It shouldn’t need any more salt, but season with black pepper to taste and don’t reduce too far. If cooking straight through for immediate service, then remove the steaks while thickening the sauce. Then, in both cases, add the steaks back into the thickened sauce to bring back up to heat.
I like to serve this really dish comforting dish with some dark winter greens, like cavolo nero or savoy, and some creamed swede or squash.
Note: remember that embers of a dying fire after a good meal are perfect for gently roasting all the left over bones for your brown stock supply.