Arista? Arrosto? Let’s Agree This Pork Loin is Delizioso

by Kelly on August 3, 2010   

Tender, succulent, easy, savory, inexpensive...what else?

On our recent visit to Italy I couldn’t help noticing how often pork was on the menu. Italians have really championed pork, and since coming home I’ve found myself craving a really good…arista? Or excuse me, is that an arrosto? And should I braise, or do I roast? I tried to clear this up in Lucca with our cooking-teacher-for-the-day, Sonia, but she avoided my question. And then I got sidetracked by cinghiale, another pork-related meat. Cinghiale is wild boar, and the preparations of it are just as spectacular.

Now that I’m free of the distractions of prosciutto, Aperol spritzes, wild boar salame and truffles, I have compiled the answers I got in Italy with a little research stateside and  have teased out the difference between arista and arrosto. Arista is two things at once: it is the Tuscan name for pork roast, particularly a style roasted with hot milk, and also the loin cut for roast pork, which has the ribs attached. Arrosto is more generically Italian for roasted meat. Arrosto di maiale is roast pork loin, while arista is roast pork, with the rib attached. Still, this didn’t solve my braise/roast question.

My research led me to my favorite Italian cookbook, a recent translation of the Italian tome, The Silver Spoon. This is the cookbook every bride gets a copy of, and occupies the same to-hand spot as that of the Joy of Cooking (or in my case The Fannie Farmer Cookbook) in the American kitchen. First published in 1950, it had never been fully translated into English, but in 2005 all 2,000+ recipes were not only translated but adapted for the American kitchen. Needless to say, I recommend it!

Weighty, with some slightly kooky translations, but well worth it as a basic Italian cookbook for just about everything

I’ve concluded that braising and roasting, though fundamentally different, come close together in this preparation of pork. The pork loin is thoroughly browned, and then cooked in its own juices — with a cover over it. Covering the roast takes it a side-step away from a straightforward roast, but it really isn’t moist-cooked, either. That will explain why my title for this recipe is:

Roasted & Braised Pork Loin with Rosemary and Mustard Jus | 6 servings

2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pound pork loin roast, boneless
3 5-inch fresh rosemary sprigs
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small onion, minced
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Break 2 of the rosemary sprigs into smaller pieces. Chop the leaves of the other rosemary sprig and set aside until needed. Tie up the pork roast, catching up the small sprigs in the string. You can also have the butcher tie the roast, and then tuck the rosemary under the string.

This was an organic roast from Whole Foods and still reasonable compared to beef

Cut 5 or six strings, depending on the length of the roast, and tie knots at 1-inch intervals -- triple the first loop before knotting it to get a good grab, and the string will hold tightly

Trim the string to about 1/2 inch

Easy enough to do at home

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large pot and brown the pork on all sides until deeply colored, about 15 minutes.

Take the time to get it nicely browned on all sides

The deep color adds a caramel flavor to the cooking juices

Remove the pork to a plate and set aside until needed. Add the minced onion, garlic and chopped rosemary to the pot and wilt the onions for 3 minutes.

Mince the onions finer if you want less of an onion texture in the final sauce

Rosemary pairs so well with pork

Add the white wine and cook it down until mostly evaporated, about 5 minutes.

Evaporate some of the wine before adding the pork back to avoid "boiling" the meat

The wine becomes flavor rather than liquid

Return the pork to the pan, cover, and simmer over low heat for 1 1/2 hours, turning the roast from time to time while it cooks.

When the pork is done, remove it from the pot to a plate and cover loosely with foil to “rest.” Stir in the white wine vinegar and mustard and reduce the cooking juices another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve this delicious jus with the pork.

Cooking juices, or "jus," can be reduced, which heightens the flavor and thickens the texture, and makes just about the best sauce this pork can ask for

I forgot to say — this pork is even better the next day.

(I’ll alert The Husband, and he can make himself an SLL, or “Sad Little Lunch” out of it!)

Kelly McCune © 2010

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Culinspiration September 1, 2010 at 10:48 am

This looks just fabulous. I will have to try it.

J.Aubrey November 2, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Just started cooking this. It smells wonderful! Will be back to report on the family thumbs, up or down.

J.Aubrey November 3, 2010 at 11:05 am

All thumbs up! Will be adding this to my menu often. It is really easy to get going and then just check in now and then. Thanks.

Kelly November 5, 2010 at 6:42 pm

I’m so glad it came out well — it’s so easy, and makes the whole house smell fantastic!

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