Arista of Pork and Beans is the classic dish of Tuscany. It is made, traditionally, with pork loin. One can also use pork shoulder. My version is made with pork shank. In fact, there’s a theory that arista, in Latin, means upper part, possibly referring to pork shank, or upper part of the pig. The most popular story of how the dish got its name is that in 1430, the Byzantine Patriarch, Bessarion, came to Florence for an ecumenical council and, when he tasted the roast pork, he exclaimed “Aristos!”, the Greek word for best or excellent.
The beans in the dish refers to Tuscan Beans. That is, white beans, either Great Northern or navy beans, and cooked with sage and plum tomatoes.
This is a special dish for that special occasion when you want to impress family and friends. However, anytime would be a great occasion for this classic. With a good Chianti, nothing could be better.
ARISTA OF PORK AND BEANS
1 four-pound pork shank or loin of pork
3 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary or 1½ teaspoons dried
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
3 whole cloves
2 cups dry red or white wine
2 cups water
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
- Trim excess fat from pork. Roll garlic slivers in rosemary. With the point of a sharp knife, cut small incisions in the meat and in each incision insert a garlic sliver. Rub the meat with salt and pepper. Insert the whole cloves in the meat.
- Place the pork on a roasting pan. Pour the water and wine in the pan. Cook for 2¾ hours, basting occasionally. Cut roast into thin slices and serve.
1½ cups small dried white beans, picked over and rinsed
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 plum tomatoes, chopped; or 1/3 cup canned, drained and chopped
- Soak beans overnight in a large bowl with water to cover.
- Drain beans and place in a Dutch oven or large pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes or until beans are just tender. Drain.
- In a large skillet, heat butter and olive oil over moderate heat. Add beans, sage, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring with a fork, 3 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes and toss lightly to blend. Cook 3 minutes more and serve with pork roast.
Yield: 6 servings.