Wednesday, April 5, 2023

The Best Arista!

Arista is a Tuscan roast pork loin with the ribs attached. It refers to the dish and the cut of pork. The story goes that in 1439, Greek and Roman bishops and cardinals met in Florence to discuss differences between the churches. Of course they were served the classic roast pork loin seasoned with rosemary, salt, and pepper. The Greeks were so amazed by the flavor, that they began to exclaim, "Aristos, aristos!" Arista means "the best" in Greek, and the name stuck. Although, many believe the dish dates further back to the Renaissance. 

If you've never made this cut of pork, you're in for a revelation! It is superior to boneless pork loin. It's more juicy, flavorful, and makes an impressive presentation, perfect for Easter! My favorite recipe for Arista is from Williams-Sonoma. It starts by marinating the pork overnight with thyme, rosemary, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. The next day, dried figs are soaked in sweet vermouth, which are added to the pan juices after roasting to become an incredible sauce further enhanced with stock, demi-glace, fig balsamic vinegar, and butter. My husband said it was the best pork dish he's ever tasted, and I agree! I serve it with roasted potatoes, asparagus, baguette, and a nice bottle of Chianti. It's a perfect holiday feast, guaranteed to make everyone happy! (If you are looking for lamb this Easter, check out my recipes for Grilled Leg of Lamb with Rosemary, Garlic, and Mustard or Pistachio-Crusted Lamb Chops on Rutabaga Rosti and Gingered Carrot Sauce!)

Arista (Tuscan Roast Pork Loin)

Serves 6-8


2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
4 tablespoons minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt, plus more, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
1 bone-in pork loin roast, about 5 pounds (I buy a "frenched pork rack.")
12 ounces dried figs, halved (I use 9 ounces dried mission figs, and it is plenty!)
1 cup sweet vermouth or water, warmed (Don't use water!)
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock (I like "Better than Bouillon" brand.)
2 tablespoons veal demi-glace, homemade or store-bought (I prefer "Demi-Glace Gold" brand.)
2 teaspoons fig balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature


In a small bowl, combine the thyme, rosemary, garlic, and 1 1/2 tablespoons salt, pepper, and olive oil. Rub the herb mixture on all sides of the pork loin. Cover with plastic wrap or seal in a freezer bag and refrigerate overnight.

Put the figs in a bowl, add the vermouth and soak for 1 hour. Strain the figs, reserving the soaking liquid.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Put the pork in a roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 400 degrees and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat, away from the bone, registers 135-140 degrees, 45-50 minutes more. Transfer the pork to a carving board, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, set the roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add the reserved soaking liquid and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom. Reduce the heat to medium and add the figs, stock, demi-glace, and fig balsamic vinegar. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, and season with salt and pepper.

Carve the pork roast between the bones and arrange on a warmed platter. Pour the sauce over the meat and serve immediately. Be prepared for cheers!