– Pork loin braised in milk –
This dish is also known as “Arista al latte” in Tuscany and quite a favourite in our house for a long time.
The best ‘Arrosto’ I have eaten so far is in one of our Italian friend’s restaurant in, of all places, Rapperswill, just outside Zürich in Switzerland.
Piero, who originates from just across the border to Italy owns one of the most wonderful Italian Restaurants “La Scala” right at the shores of Lake Zürich. From his first floor Restaurant and his large terrace the view of the lake and the mountains beyond is quite spectacular in summer as well as in winter.
No ‘nouvelle cuisine’ here but true Italian cucina at its best. People drive for many kilometers to spend some time at ‘La Scala’ and many, like us who do know better, hardly ever bother with the written menu – we eat happily what Piero or his wonderful crew recommend.
And if we are lucky, after most guests have left, Piero brings out his beloved guitars (one of which was part of our hand luggage all the way from India) and we all enter into the most joyous sing-song, loudly, happily and frequently off-key, but what does it matter. Dolce far niente!
For: 4 (with a very lean appetite)
1.5 – 2 kg boned pork loin, skin removed
4 Tbsp Olive oil
3 Tbsp butter
5 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half
Some fresh sage or ½ tsp of dried sage or rosemary
6 strips of lemon peel
1 cinnamon stick
3 fresh bay leaves
1 l full fat milk, hot
Sea salt & black pepper
String (to hold your meat together)
Trim the pork of excess fat and make random slits into the meat and stuff the garlic and the lemon peels in each and rub all over with salt, pepper and sage.
Now string your piece of meat so that it does not fall apart during the slow cooking process.
Place a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil.
Wait for the oil to be hot before adding the pork and seal the meat from all sides until golden brown. You neither want the oil to be smoking nor the meat to be dark in colour.
When done remove meat onto a plate and keep warm. Pour off any excess oil, add the cinnamon stick, bay leaves and the very hot (but not boiled) milk and bring to a gentle simmer, turning down the heat if needed. You can also do what I always do, throw a few more slices of lemon peel in for extra good measure, but just make sure you do not cut off the white flesh underneath, which is bitter.
Return meat to the pot, and cook slowly with the lid 1/3 off for an hour or so (just check your meat).
Stir gently occasionally and keep scraping the bottom of the pot in order to loosen the curds or they will burn.
Because of the interaction between lemon and milk you will get those wonderful golden coloured curds. Trust me, it’s going to be delicious – I have been cooking this dish now for over 20 years or so, and never were there any complaints or left-overs for that matter.
By the time the pork is done, you should have most of the liquid reduced into a wonderful caramelised sauce.
Remove the meat and let it rest on a warm plate for 10 minutes before removing the string. Discard the bay leaves and cinnamon stick.
Slice your pork into slices and once on your pre-heated serving plate drizzle some of the sauce and the curd over this. The rest can be served separately at the table.
(All photos: CS-Manningtreearchive)