This slowly-cooked pork infused with the aromas of lemon and sage is a wonderful weekend meal. Don't worry when the braising liquid starts to look curdled toward the end of the cooking process; this is normal! The richly-flavored sauce can either be served as-is, or blended for a silkier texture.Recipe adapted, mostly in notes, from Saveur (January, 2009)
Separate the ribs from the loin meat (most butcher counters will do this for you upon request). Set ribs aside. Tie the roast section with twine and season both sides of the roast and ribs with salt and pepper.
Melt olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large dutch oven until foaming subsides. Sear pork roast and ribs, until all surfaces are well-browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer roast and ribs to a plate.
Pour most of the fat out of the dutch oven and add remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add half of the sage leaves and sauté for 10 - 20 seconds. Slowly add the milk and cream. Add lemon zest and a few pinches of salt, to taste.*
Bring to a simmer, stirring to loosen any pork drippings from the bottom of the pan, and nestle roast and ribs into the braising liquid. Cover, leaving the lid slightly vented. Gently simmer (regulating burner heat as needed) for 1 hour, turning roast and ribs every 30 minutes.
Coarsely chop or tear the remaining sage leaves and stir into the braising liquid. Gently simmer for another hour with the lid partially vented, turning the meat every 30 minutes.
Uncover the dutch oven and continue simmering the pork for an additional 1 to 1-1/2 hours, turning every 30 minutes.** The pork is finished when it is tender (a fork will slide in easily) and the braising liquid has reduced to a thick, golden-brown gravy.
Remove the roast and ribs from the dutch oven. Discard the ribs and allow the roast to rest, loosely tented, on a cutting board for 10 minutes. Skim the braising liquid of any large pools of fat. (If desired, transfer gravy to a blender and puree until smooth, or use an immersion blender.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Remove twine from pork roast and carve into thin slices. Serve, drizzled with gravy and fresh lemon zest, passing additional gravy at the table.***
*Keep in mind that the braising liquid will reduce significantly during the cooking process, intensifying the flavors. I tend to be lighthanded with the salt at this stage (just a few pinches), adding additional salt to the gravy before serving, if needed.**It's important to watch the pot closely during the last hour of cooking so that the milk and cream don't scorch and become bitter. You want to maintain a very gentle simmer. The liquid should not bubble vigorously. When I flip the roast and ribs, I like to stir the braising liquid, loosening any cooked-on bits on the bottom of the pot where the meat rests.***Leftover pork is delicious, thinly-sliced, in sandwiches (warm or cold). To reheat and preserve the roast's juiciness, I find that steaming works best. Just place the slices in a skillet with a few tablespoons of water, cover, and steam over medium heat until heated through.