For the love of roast
My tips and tricks to make a killer roasted pork loin with apples
If I had to choose one signature dish, it would be my roasted pork loin with apples. One of the first dishes my mum taught me to cook was arista alla fiorentina, roasted pork loin with herbs and white wine, the traditional Sunday roast in our family. When I gained some confidence in the kitchen, I raised the bar adding apples and onions: that became THE roast during my cooking classes. I’ve made this dish countless times, in the most different kitchens, with the most diverse tools, for the most different people. Yet, it is always a success.
These are my tips and tricks, bits of advice collected during the years making arista con le mele. These tips apply generally to any roast.
Know your butcher. He can always advise you on the best cut for the recipe you want to make, and he can also assure you of the quality of the meat you’re going to buy. Having a high-quality cut of meat is fundamental. This does not mean that you have to buy just the expensive cuts, of course. Less noble cuts will be perfect for long stewing, it to make a spezzatino, for example.
Tie your piece of meat. Being it pork loin, turkey breast, or beef tenderloin, tie it properly with a piece of butcher’s twine: it will grant an even roasting of the meat, and it will also help you to slice it better.
Give it flavour. It’s essential to massage the meat with a rub of salt and herbs or spices. We usually use salt, black pepper, rosemary, sage and garlic. Even better if you can massage the meat with salt in advance: half an hour would do. Salt the meat, rub it, and keep it outside your fridge, on the kitchen counter. This will ensure you roast the meat at room temperature: it will make all the difference.
Sear the meat. Sear the meat on high heat in a generous amount of olive oil. Turn the meat on every side until golden brown. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to do this. You don’t want to prick the meat, otherwise, all the juices will run out and make your meat dry.
Cook it properly, allowing it time to rest. Pour over the meat half a glass of white wine, cover the pork with a lid and cook on low flame. You need, of course, a thick-bottomed pot to do this - invest in a high quality cast iron pot, it will become a family treasure to pass on along with the recipe for the roasted pork loin. In my family, we usually roast the meat on the stove, not in the oven. Cook the meat with the lid on and, very important, let it rest once cooked. You are not going to cook the meat thoroughly, otherwise, it will get very dry. Allowing the meat some time to rest will have, as a result, a juicy roasted loin.
And now, to the recipe.
Roasted pork loin with apples
If the Tuscan arista alla Fiorentina, roasted pork loin with herbs and white wine, was the traditional Sunday roast in our family, the roast pork loin with apples quickly became our favourite. Let’s face it: pork and apples is a marriage made in heaven.
First, you brown the meat in olive oil until nicely golden brown, then you add apples, onions, and white wine, and, after a short cooking, your Sunday roast is ready. The apples provide sweetness and an accompaniment to the pork, whether they are served rustic as they are, just out of the pot, caramelised and soft, or as a creamy dressing.
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If you are interested in Italian meat recipes, have a look at Recipes from an Italian Butcher, published by Phaidon in 2017. It is a collection of recipes from Il cucchiaio d’Argento, one of the most iconic Italian cookbooks, first published in 1950. There are recipes for pork, beef, veal, lamb, game, poultry, and sides. I love this book because the graphics compare Italian, American, and British cuts and cooking techniques, which are extremely useful for translating a recipe from one cuisine to the other.
For example, the Italian lonza (arista in Tuscany) is much smaller than the American and British ones.
More recipes with pork from the blog archive
Pork tenderloin medallions with apples. You can prepare the pork tenderloin medallions wrapped in lardo and cook them with apples and onions in no time. They will remain juicy, perfectly paired with the caramelised apples and onions.
Pork sirloin with herbs. It’s amazing how a few dried herbs and juniper berries can turn one of the usual Sunday meat dishes into a roast worth of a medieval castle, juicy and flavourful, with a slight hint of wood and resin.
Pork loin with lager beer and mustard. I made these slices of pork loin in no more than 10 minutes: lager beer and mustard make them tasty and unusual, giving the dish the richness of long cooking recipes that we so appreciate during winter.
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