Friday, June 24, 2011

Arista, Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary and a little HEAT!

A few weeks ago I brought a book with me to read over a long weekend in Vermont.  The book? Not an antique this time but rather 2006’s Heat by Bill Buford.  It was one of those books I’d been meaning to read for years but just never got around to doing it.  Once I started it was hard to stop.

Heat tells the tale of a mild-mannered magazine editor who throws caution to the wind and bravely jumps the good-ship-New Yorker  to live the life of a cook.

Mario Battali

Working first for Mario Batali at Babbo, then, following in Batali’s footsteps on the culinary learning trail ––
Marco Pierre White

Buford goes to visit the mad genius Marco Pierre White in London.


Next he spends time at a tiny Italian restaurant in Porretta Terme, Italy to learn from a pasta sorceress named Betta.

He finishes with the world-renowned Dante-spouting butcher in the Tuscan town of Panzano–– Dario Cecchini the meat artist, nicknamed the “Michelangelo of Meat”.

In the course of a few years, Buford moved from a professional-kitchen visitor to tourist to a legitimate member of the cooking profession and learned his lessons well.  By the end of his tour of duty he could dance to the rhythm of the kitchen “line” like a pro and had an enormous feeling of pride of accomplishment, as well he should.  I can’t imagine pulling it off at my age.  It’s a great inspirational book.

Returning to NYC, Buford employs the skills from his butchering lessons with Dario to take a pig apart in 7 days, using every morsel to make dish after glorious dish.  On the 4th day of his labours he made the classic Tuscan pork dish, Arista.   To make it he “ … added ingredients in Dario’s order:  garlic, thyme, the fennel pollen… the black blanket of pepper, the green blanket of rosemary, the salt blizzard.” Something clicked when I read about those blizzards, I was lost –– I couldn’t help myself –– I had to make this with a piece of D'Artagnan's Berkshire pork tenderloin I had left over from making game pie a few weeks back (probably the best I have ever had!).  The original called for a larger cut… usually the whole loin or “saddle” used with or without the bones so I had to make some changes.  If you have a whole loin just ‘up’ the ingredients for the paste and up the cooking time… loins are around 4 pounds.  I think it would be great grilled but I pan-roasted it. And what about flavor??? It was over-the-top perfectly delicious.

Oh, by the way, lest you think fennel pollen is a new addition... al contrario, it was used when the dish was young... Scappi used it frequently in his seminal 16th century cookbook L'Opera.

Benozzo Gozzoli, Journey of the Magi, 1459 (inspired by the very international Council of Florence)

This dish has serious chops and something like it has been made in Italy since the middle ages, even if the famous story about its beginning is probably apocryphal.  Famous 19th century Italian chef Pellegrino Artusi  reported that the dish was served at the tremendously important ecumenical meeting called the Council of Florence in 1439,  attended by the Byzantine Patriarch Bessarion and most of the top members of the Catholic church in the known world –– it was HUGE. They had to move it to Florence from Ferrara because of worry about plague ( and doubtless because the town larder was emptied feeding them all!).  When the Greek bishops ate this roast (that had been known by a different name at the time) they said “Arista! Arista!” which translates into something like “terrific” (aristos is “the best” in Greek and root of the word aristocrat).  The dish has been called Arista ever since… at least that’s how the story goes.  There is a rumbling coming from a few sources that tells me arista was mentioned a century before this meeting. I haven’t seen the proof for that as of yet, however.  It’s a lovely story, nice if it were true… when you taste it you could imagine it happening.

Served with roasted potatoes with olives… HEAVEN.


Arista with Pork Tenderloin, inspired by Dario (serves 2-3)

2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 sprigs of rosemary, chopped (plus extra for exterior)
2 sprigs of thyme, chopped
½ to 1 t pepper to taste (I went for 1 t)

2 T olive oil
½ c white wine

Chop all the herbs and spices together.  You should have about 3 T.  Gently slice open the tenderloin so it is flattened (around ½” thick) and put 2/3 of the mixture inside.  Fold up the small end and tie the loin together.  Rub the rest of the mixture over the outside.  Stick extra rosemary in the strings.

Preheat oven to 425º

Brown the pork in the oil on all sides in an oven-proof skillet for 3-5 minutes. Pick up any stray bits of garlic and set aside… if you leave them in the pan they will burn. Transfer to the oven for about 15 minutes, turning once, till it registers 145º.  Cut the string and let rest for 5 minutes.

While the meat is resting, add the demiglace and wine and scrape up the brown bits in the skillet and add the garlic you had put aside… pour over the pork to serve.

Garlic Roasted Potatoes with Black Olives from Nancy Harmon Jenkins (serves 3-4)

2 pounds potatoes unpeeled and cut into chunks
4 chopped garlic cloves
3 sprigs rosemary
½ t pepper
1 t chili flakes
½ c olive oil
24 chopped olives
2 T minced parsley

Heat oven to 425º.  Toss the potatoes in the oil, rosemary, pepper and chili. Place in the oven 20 minutes, add the garlic and toss and roast for about 5 more minutes more till browned.  Remove from the oven and add the olives and parsley.  The olives may provide enough salt for the dish, otherwise, add salt to taste.


Thanks again to Gollum for hosting Foodie Friday!

PS> There are links to the items from  D'Artagnan and Marx Food... just click to get to the website and order!


T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

With a track record that goes back to the middle ages, this must be fantastic! It looks absolutely savory and delicious, and I'm wishing you were serving it as a breakfast course right now.

La Table De Nana said...

I have Mr Dario on J.Di Stasio's Italy..he is colorful and so talented..Love Mario's scarf..reading a cute book you might like..Man With A Pan:)

I read Heat a few years ago and loved it..It started my foray into this genre of books..
The recipes look great..

Did I ever tell you I met Mario Batali? I am sure I did..if not let me repeat myself..and he was charming and nice and audience..just my girls and I..on a street in NY..his ..was there too.
The nicest man:)

Kathy Walker said...

This sounds wonderful. Pork roast is my favorite. I am going to have to try it. I have never seen fennel pollen...will have to investigate a source before doing anything!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Mention fresh rosemary and you've got my attention. What a lovely dish and fantastic photography.

Heat is the kind of book I could read again and again. Happy Foodie Friday!

David Julian said...

I'm growing a big pot of rosemary on my patio and looking for recipes to use it. This one sounds fantastic! Thanks for the inspiration Deana.

Marjie said...

I enjoyed your book review. Don't you just love kicking back with a good book for the weekend? Your pork loin is looking really nice; I may just have to get myself a rosemary tree. Then my sons can gripe in earnest about the "pine needles" in their food.

And Thor hopes Petunia enjoyed her trip to Vermont.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Sounds like a really interesting book Deana! Fennel pollen hasn't really taken off here but I did try it at a little B&B quite off the beaten track. She never knew that it was one of those new ingredients, she had simply always picked it and eaten it :)

Lazaro Cooks said...

MPW is my guy. One of my biggest kitchen influences. Dude is a serious badass.

Were both on the same wavelength again, this time with pork. Tomorrow's post for me!

Rosemary, thyme and fennel pollen, what a flavor punch. The execution of the dish was flawless, including the wonderfully tying of the pork.

Two thumbs way up!

Tasty Trix said...

I LOVED Heat. Really engrossing - funny thing is, I didn't eat meat when I read it (I know, I know) and so didn't think to make any of the dishes mentioned for obvious reasons. Well you've got me thinking as always! This is absolutely gorgeous.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Good god woman, YOU are an artist in your own right; I know that you are in the process of developing a dream for a good read too...and I know you will do it. You compose heaven on earth, food and fantasy, history and the present pleasures of our palates. That pork with the olives?????? I best not show this to Ruben or else I will be cooking this tonight and I am a bit spent already for we are digging up dirt in our garden...but perhaps a good tenderloin will do us both good! Sweet friend, your words, you time that you take to visit me are SO APPRECIATED....and those quotes...YES, LET US NOT REGRET but move on in LOVE...LOVE FOREVER!!! Happy day and BON APÉTIT..Anita

Barbara said...

Nice review, Deana. I enjoyed the book as well.

The pork tenderloin is simply and elegantly prepared and I know I'd love it, but those potatoes grabbed my attention. Love marrying those lovely crispy browned potatoes with black olives!

Taste of Beirut said...

This dish sounds heavenly and I will wait ti be back in Beirut to make it, where I can get the best olives and some fennel from the mountains; this man sounds so interesting, wish I could have done the same, but I wanted to raise children instead!

Sarah said...

I will eventually make a trip to NYC just to experience D'Artagnan. You use them a lot. Lovely. I love pork tenderloin and especially with a little heat.

Unknown said...

I have not heard of this book. Such a lovely story. Pork and I need no introduction:-) and another recipe is always welcome for it's preparation in my home.

Laura from Silk Road Gourmet said...

Sounds and looks wonderful!

I have to point it out to my historian who loves to cook things like this - hopefully he will do me the honors someday.

I love fennel pollen and am amazed that it is still produced, given the labor intensive manner of its production. It make saffron and vanilla cultivation look easy.

Nice story about the name "Arista" as well. True or not- its a great addition to the story.

Laura from
Silk Road Gourmet

Faith said...

What a story -- I'd love to read that book! Thanks for sharing it with us. Looks like a very flavorful dish and I love that stunning platter you served it on!

Linda said...

Girlfriend...what a wonderful post!
That meal has my name all over it!
I have a teeny bit of fennel pollen left that someone gave me as a gift...this looks like a wonderful way to use it up...
Just gorgeous mouth is watering...
Gosh I love coming to visit you...

Denise | Chez Danisse said...

I am intrigued by both this book and the arista. Your potatoes look lovely as well. I am a fan of roasted potatoes, but I've never combined them with olives. Very nice. Reading this before lunch was not the best idea...

Sippity Sup said...

It is quite a book I am glad you got to read. aybe I should re-read it myself. GREG

Diane said...

Great book review, really interesting. The tenderloin sound fantastic but it was the potatoes that grabbed me! I often do garlic potatoes, but that recipe is much nicer than mine and I have never thought of serving with olives. Yum yum. Diane

Unknown said...

That sounds like quite an adventure. I wonder how much weight he gained LOL. Seriously, sounds like a wonderful book. I love eating adventures :)
Congrats on creating another restaurant worthy dish daaaahling, it is completely stunning.
*kisses* HH

Karen from Globetrotter Diaries said...

Wow looks gorgeous!! As always I love a dish with a good story behind it :) Will have to check out this book!

Anonymous said...

Oh what a wonderful blog, so glad I found you. I don't know what I want to do first, go looking for the book at the library or cook the pork but I'm doing both.

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