Arista Di Maiale

February 14th, 2011

This delicious, flavorful roast takes advantage of a favorite method of Italian cooking: slow, oven-top braising. This technique is used frequently by the La Romita cooks, and you can freely substitute other meats – beef, lamb, or even turkey, though the resulting roast will not be “arista” (see below).

Arista di Maiale

You will need a dutch-oven-type pot or wide-bottomed stock-pot for the stove-top: something that the roast can comfortably fit into for cooking.

Cooking time: Approximately 2.5 hours.

Ingredients:

  • A 2.5 to 3.5 pork loin roast or pork shoulder roast, trussed into a rough cylinder
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled (you can use more)
  • Approximately 1 cup of white wine (not too fruity or powerful)
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, 4-5 inches long
  • Sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper
  • Olive oil

Directions

For best results, let the roast sit out for about 30 minutes to reach room temperature.

Generously coat all sides of the roast with sea salt and black pepper.  Heat 1/4 c to 1/3 c olive oil into the cooking pot over medium heat, add the garlic cloves and gently cook until they are a light golden color.  Remove the garlic from the oil and set aside.

Raise the heat to “High” and sear the roast on all sides – about 2 minutes per – until the exterior of the roast is light brown. Turn the heat down to low, return the garlic to the pot, and add the rosemary sprig and cup of wine. When the liquid around the roast is gently simmering,  cover the pot, with just a slight gap to let some of the steam off. There should be about 3/4 to 1 inch of liquid surrounding the roast. 

Turn the roast after 45 minutes and check to make sure no additional liquid is needed, if so add water. Continue to simmer for another 45 minutes to 1 hour. In the final 30 minutes of cooking, remove the top from the pan and turn up the heat to concentrate the broth in the bottom of the pot. Season to taste once the broth has reduced.

Remove from the pan when finished and allow to sit for 5 minutes prior to cutting. Pour the pan juice over the sliced roast, drizzle with fresh olive oil and serve.

It would be easy to mistake the word arista for arrosto (roast), especially since the result of this preparation is a pork roast, but arista is a regional name for a specific cut of pork that is famously prepared in this fashion in Umbria and Tuscany.

Butchers in parts of the world render animals in slightly different ways, so sometimes it can be hard to determine what exact cut of meat is optimal for a recipe, never mind the fact that the same cut can be called a half-dozen different names in the U.S.!

The part that the arista comes from is the Lonza, a section of the pig that contains the tenderloin. The actual cut from the lonza that is used for arista di maiale contains a section of the loin but also some of the rib meat. This “translates” nicely to in American terms to the “pork center loin roast” (also referred to as a “center cut pork roast”, “pork loin rib roast”, and other combinations of those words). An entirely different cut, the pork shoulder roast, can be substituted. In either case, you will need to truss (or have your butcher truss) the roast into a cylinder using a series of ties about an inch apart. This ensures even cooking.