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Chine of pork "alla Fiorentina"

(Arista alla fiorentina)

  • 2 kilograms of chine of pork with its bone
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 10-12 leaves of sage
  • the leaves of two small branches of rosemary
  • one pinch of fennel seeds
  • one big pinch of black pepper
  • one pinch of spices
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 2 small glasses of grappa
Take a blender and put as much oil as to cover the blades in order it can mix properly, then add garlics, sage, rosemary, fennel, pepper, spices and salt. Mix all these ingredients very well as to have a quite thick and homogeneous mixture. Then take the chine of pork, salt and pepper it a little bit, spread it abundatly and uniformely with the above described mixture.
Take a sheet of tinfoil and wrap the chine of pork very tightly; put it in the refrigerator for a night as it can acquire flavour. At the right time take a baking-pan, grease it with abundant vegetable oil, position the chine of pork wrapped in the tinfoil, sprinkle it with the same oil, put in the oven for 40 minutes, at the temperature of 200° C, turning the wrapped chine of pork several times. At the right time, open the tinfoil (and then drop it) in order to let the meat get browned, bathe with white wine, turn the meat as soon as the wine will be evaporated, after 10-12 minutes, and then sprinkle it with grappa. Some 4-5 minutes more of cooking, then take out from the oven and cut the chine of bork into small steaks, which will be served over a layer of turnip leaves, boiled and sauted in a frying pan together with the cooking bottom of the pork.
This is surely one of the most typical and appreciated recipes of the Tuscany - Florentine tradition. Its name has an uncertain origin, but it commonly dates back to the XIII century and relates to the Council of 1439. This ecumenical event gathered in Firenze many Fathers of the Eastern Church and probably, within their theological discussions, they found also spare time to dedicate to more "material" things. It seems that after having tasted this type of roast (with great satisfaction), they have murmured in their language, the ancient Greek, the word "Arista", which means "good". As they repeated this word many times, the Florentine people, who did not know the Greek, thought this was its original name, so that they started to call the chine of pork "Arista".
Personally, and I am not the only one, I have several doubts about the truth of this sort of legend because, in the XII century also Sacchetti (short story CXXIV) used this term, so that this name existed before the Ecumenical Council of Firenze of 1439.

A Giuseppe Alessi recipe
Translated by Gianna Toni

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