Arista di Maiale – Florentine Roast Pork. This roast pork has been a fixture of Florentine cooking since at least the Renaissance, or so the legend goes.
Artusi traces the origins of its unusual name to 1439 when, during an international assembly of bishops in Florence, this roast was served. It was received with such enthusiasm that a guest exclaimed, ‘Àrista, arista’, meaning ‘the best’.
Nothing is wasted in a Florentine kitchen. The pan drippings that result from making arista are liquid gold. Peel and chop some potatoes to add to the bottom of the pan where they will catch all the drippings – they will be the best roast potatoes you’ll ever have. Or toss some blanched cavolo nero (black Tuscan kale) or cooked cannellini (lima) beans (page 101) through the pan juices, after removing the arista from the oven and while it is resting. This is enough for four but you’ll hopefully get some leftovers out of this – it’s even better cold the next day, in thin slices.
1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) bone-in pork loin or rib roast
extra-virgin olive oil, for rubbing
1 rosemary sprig, leaves picked and finely chopped
8–10 sage leaves, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) white wine
The pork needs to be at room temperature before cooking. If taking the pork out of the refrigerator, cover it in plastic wrap, and allow it to sit for at least 1 hour.
Cut all along the bone, as if you were removing the bone completely, but leave it attached by about 3 cm (1¼ in) at the bottom. Rub olive oil all over the meat.
Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F).
Mix the rosemary leaves, sage and garlic, and add some salt and pepper. Place half of this herb mix along the cut just made and with the rest, rub it in and around the rest of the meat. Tie with string to hold the roast together and cover the bones with aluminium foil to keep them from burning.
Place the roast, skin side up, on a metal cooling rack in a baking pan so it is not touching the bottom of the pan. Pour the white wine over the roast so that it coats the meat and drips into the tray. Bake for about 50 minutes. If you have a meat thermometer, you are looking for an interior temperature of about 65°C (150°F).
Remove from the oven, turn the heat to 220°C (430°F) and place back in the oven for a further 5 minutes to crisp up the skin. Rest the meat for at least 15 minutes, uncovered, then slice thickly using the bones as guides and serve.
This is an edited extract from Florentine by Emiko Davies published by Hardie Grant $49.99 available in stores nationally.