Jan 27

 

When I was a boy, a huge dinner had a place in the big enchanting kitchen of the Villa at the beginning of every January: it was the day our farmer slaughtered the pig. On that occasion, we ate only the pig and all of the pig! Our farmers and their helpers came to this feast, so did the one who slaughtered the pig, il norcino, who was also a poet, singer and guitarist. Both illustrious and humble friends of the family showed up, together with all our family. We called it La Smaialata, which means both the dinner on the pig and of the pig! Once I was sitting next to the American wife of a dear sculptor friend and she asked for my advice. My grasp of English was almost nothing at that time, but I understood that she wanted to know what to put on her plate. She would put one piece to try and, if it was okay, other pieces followed. This happened for the pieces of pig’s liver as well, and she ate 12 of them while I man- aged to put away 36. Then her husband asked her if she liked pig’s liver and she made a terrible face, saying, “No, no, thank you.”

Arista with potatoes was and is the important dish of the feast. The real name is Arista alla Fiorentina, but because fiorentina has become synonymous with spinach in

America, I changed its name. The epithet fiorentina comes from the Queen of France, Catherine de’ Medici, who was from Florence and introduced many dishes and ingredients like spinach to France. The French hated their queen and used the name of her city of origin not to say her name. Arista is a very classic dish, very appetizing. In Florentine trattorias it is often offered cold covered in its warm sauce. The name arista comes probably from the Latin arista, which means “something from the best part,” of the pig’s body; or from the Greek, ariston (the best).

And now the recipe and buon appetito!
-Paolo Villoresi

Roast Pork Loin with Potatoes

Roast Pork Loin with Potatoes
Arista alla Fiorentina con Patate

1 pork loin, about 3 pounds, bone in
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, leaves only
2 tablespoons fresh sage
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
2 pounds baby potatoes, scrubbed and pricked with a fork

Have your butcher prepare a loin of pork with the bone cut away from, but left inside the meat. Preheat the oven to 400°. Mince the garlic, rosemary and sage and mix with the salt and the pepper. Divide this mixture in two equal parts and mix one half with the butter using a fork. Mix the other half with 3 tablespoons of the oil. Lift the pork up vertically on one end and, with a sharp and narrow knife, cut a long hole through the middle of the pork. Make sure you do not cut all the way through to the other end. Enlarge the cut with a wooden spoon. Stuff the opening with the butter and herb mixture, pushing it all the way in with your finger, or the handle of the wooden spoon. Fill the entire cavity in this manner. Using butchers string (that you have soaked in warm water beforehand), tie the loin rather tightly, starting from the end at which you made the cut. Cover the outside of the meat and bone with the oil and herb mixture. Place in a roasting pan that is double the size of the pork loin along with the remaining olive oil. Put the pan in the oven. The meat will need to cook for 2 hours, being checked every 20 minutes and turned several times. After 1 hour and 20 minutes, add the potatoes to the pan, stirring well to coat with the olive oil and meat drippings. After 15 minutes, stir the potatoes. After another 15 minutes, add the wine to the pan, stirring to coat the potatoes. Allow to cook for 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and serve hot.

wine pairingWine pairing: Dry and crisp white

  • This story and recipe were featured in the January 2011 issue of our e-magazine Cibo. To subscribe, please click here.
Jan 21

Although there may not be as many fruits and vegetables available in the winter, it doesn’t mean you can’t make a great salad. Try the one below, which combines toasted walnuts, browned pears, fennel and a piquant Gorgonzola dressing, and you will no longer be missing the warm weather produce.

pear and fennel salad

Pear and Fennel Salad with Walnuts and Gorgonzola

1⁄2 cup walnuts, shelled
2 tablespoons Gorgonzola, crumbled
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 large pear, cored and cut into wedges
sugar for sprinkling
1 head frisée greens
1 small bulb fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven to toast for 5 minutes, rotating after 2 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the Gorgonzola and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and whisk, adding the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, until smooth and set aside.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm the butter. Sprinkle the pear wedges with sugar and add them to the skillet. Cook until the pears are browned on both sides and set aside. Remove the walnuts from the oven and roughly chop them. To serve, arrange the frisée on 4 individual plates and top with the fennel and pears. Spoon the Gorgonzola dressing on top and sprinkle with the walnuts. Serves 4

Jan 14

Winter is not without its fruits. Here we show you how to slice juicy segments out of an orange and how to obtain the seeds from the luscious pomegranate.

  • Segmenting Oranges:

orange 1

1. Slice the bottom and top 1⁄4-inch off of the orange. The cuts should be even so that the orange can rest upright on either side. Stand the orange up on 1 of the cut sides.

orange 2

2. Peel the orange by cutting along the sides in a slightly arching motion, rotating the orange as you go. The object is to remove as little of the pulp as possible, but all of the skin.

orange 3

3. Hold the peeled orange over a bowl. Using a paring knife, cut in between the membranes to form segments and allow the segments and the juice to fall into the bowl.

  • Deseeding Pomegranates:

pomegranates

1. Score the tough outside skin of the pomegranate from the top all the way around and then again so that it is scored in quarters.

2. Place your thumbs in the top indentation of the pomegranate, and pull to break the fruit apart. (It should come apart naturally on the scored lines.)

3. Over a large bowl of water, carefully push the seeds out into the water, gently breaking up the white membrane as you go.

4. The seeds will sink, but the white membrane will float to the top, allowing you to scoop it out and discard it. Don’t let the seeds sit too long in the water though. Any fruit left too long in water will eventually begin to lose its flavor and you don’t want to miss out on the bursting flavor of these sweet seeds.

Jan 7

A thick, cozy sweater or a roaring fire are two ways to warm up this winter. Hot meals and hardy food can also provide the same feelings, but instead of a bowl of soup, try this spicy pasta. The heat from the hot peppers and the rigatoni will keep you full and toasty.

Fiery Rigatoni

Fiery Rigatoni

salt
1 pound rigatoni
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, divided
6 dried hot red peppers

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the pasta and cook until al dente. Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium heat warm 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add 3 of the garlic cloves and cook until the garlic is golden. Add the hot red peppers and cook until they puff up, being careful not to burn them. Transfer the contents of the skillet to a mortar and pestle and crush them to make a sauce. Add the remaining olive oil and remaining garlic clove to the skillet and cook over medium heat until the garlic is golden. Add the crushed hot red pepper sauce and stir well to combine. Drain the pasta, then transfer it to the skillet with the sauce. Toss well to coat. Serve immediately. Serves 4