Slow cooked pork loin with apples and prunes

  • Portions: 6 pp
  • Level: 2/5
  • Preparation: 1 h
  • Cooking: 2 h
  • Season: Autumn

Pellegrino Artusi included many interesting recipes in “La Scienza in Cucina”, one of the first cookbooks in italian. Here he says that Arista was served for the first time at a church council meeting in Florence in 1430 to, in Artusi’s words, “smooth out some differences between the Roman and Greek Churches”. When the Greek bishops tried this famous Florentine roast, they murmured “Arista! Arista!”, that in Greek means “This is really terrific!”.

Arista di maiale, pork loin roasted in rosemary, sage and garlic, is served all over Tuscany, in farmhouse kitchens, at bourgeois tables, in cafeterias and restaurants. It is good hot straight from the oven and even better cold the day after. Sliced very thinly and put between two slices of country bread makes a terrific sandwich, and it often appears on an antipasto tray along with sliced sausages and prosciutto.

Many variations have been developed over the years and this is one of my favorites.

Ingredients

Arista:

  • Sage leaves
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
  • pinch each of fine salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pork loin (1kg) with bones
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves

Poached apples:

  • 2 golden delicious apples, cored
  • 250ml apple juice
  • 1/2 lemon peeled, grated fine
  • Pinch of cinnamon

Prune sauce:

  • 1 glass of dry red wine
  • 150g of pitted prunes
  • 500ml of water

Take your pork loin, and trim any remaining fat, cut and remove from the bone. Finely chop the sage, mix with the salt and pepper, and rub into the pork roast. Place the roast back into the rack of bone and place in a baking pan with the olive oil (coat the pan and sprinkle some on top of the roast). Preheat your oven to 130°C and cook 40 min, then increase the temperature to 150c and cook for a further 50 min, then increase to 170°C until the inside reaches a temperature of 69c. Remove and let your Arista rest.

Peel top half of each apple. Combine remaining ingredients in a large heavy pan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook 5 minutes, uncovered. Set apples into pan with juice. Cover, and continue to cook 15 minutes, or until apples are just tender, turning apples and basting frequently. Using a slotted spoon, remove apples from pan and cut in half. Place each half in a serving dish and keep warm.

Using the bones and juices left from the cooking of your Arista, still in the pan, place on your stove top at high heat and add white wine and prunes. Let the wine evaporate, and then add your water. Keep cooking until the water reduces by half. Removed the prunes and strain your sauce. Return the prunes to you sauce and blend together. Strain once more, reduce until and smooth consistency, (if it does not thicken you can add a little corn starch dissolved in water).

Plate your dish with the prune sauce, a nice thick cut of your Arista and the poached apple on top.

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