Eight wooden spoons, a spider sieve, a rubber spatula, a small wooden fork, a skewer, a strand of spaghetti (raw, for testing cakes), salad servers, a pair of tongs that aren’t as helpful as they look, and a friend’s ladle that I don’t want to give back: these things live in a wide pot, with handles like sticky-out ears, by the stove. An ordinary set-up that, despite the constant in-and-out, is extraordinarily constant.
While the rest of the kitchen is a game of moving and missing, the pot contents are so reliable that it’s almost as if there is sorcery involved. For this, I love the pot and its contents even more, especially the wooden spoons, which know better than me about keeping everything together. Not that you would know this by looking at them: with their scorched necks and skinny, dry handles, they seem abused rather than loved. Someone once suggested I scrub them with baking soda, leave to dry for two days, then massage with olive oil. And I will, when I clean the oven.
You need a wooden spoon for today’s recipe, another from the Anna Tasca Lanza cooking school in Sicily – arista with garden herbs, otherwise known as “pork with an eye”. Because the recipe asks that you make a hole (or maybe tunnel is a better description) that is the length of the meat. And this is where the spoon comes in: you stuff the hole with a mixture of herbs, which means each slice has a green eye.
The ideal joint for this recipe is boneless arista, or pork loin. For four to six people, you want one that weighs about 1.5kg with a good layer of protective and flavoursome fat. Push the spoon handle through one cut side of the joint and twist-push until it comes out the other side. Don’t pull it out yet: in the same way you might prepare an umbrella hole on a sandy beach, rotate the handle widely so the tunnel gets bigger until it’s roughly 2cm wide.
It’s summer, so there’s less risk of things going cold, but more that mealtimes and appetites are fickle. Both the pork and beans will wait an hour or so. Wait to add the basil until you are ready to eat, and maybe add a bit more oil too, and stir.
I do know that in writing about my spoons and constant pot could well break the spell, and I’ll never find the spatula again. Or maybe the abused spoons will rebel and call on the broom, who will take over and the kitchen will flood. But at least I have cold pork for sandwiches tomorrow.
Pork with mint and other herbs, and a borlotti and tomato salad
Prep 20 min
Cook 1 hr
A big bunch of herbs – at least half of it mint, the rest a mix of sage, oregano and rosemary, leaves picked
1.5kg pork loin, ideally with a good layer of fat
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 glass white wine (175ml)
400g cooked borlotti beans (fresh, dried or tinned), warmed through
1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
3 ripe tomatoes, diced
100ml red-wine vinegar
Basil, to finish
Chop the herbs into a fine rubble and mix with a big pinch of salt. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, make a tunnel through the centre of the pork loin, then enlarge it by rotating the handle until it’s about 2cm wide.
Stuff most of the herb rubble into the hole, then rub the rest (about a tablespoon’s worth) and a little olive oil all over the loin. Put it in an ovenproof dish or tin that’s a bit larger than the joint.
Bake in an oven heated to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6 for an hour, pouring over the wine in the last 10 minutes. Pull from the oven, cover and leave to rest for at least 15 minutes.
While the pork is resting, make the bean salad. Soak the sliced onion in a mix of the red-wine vinegar and 100ml water for 10 minutes, drain, mix with the diced tomato, some ripped basil, salt and olive oil, then stir in the warm beans.
Slice the pork quite thinly and serve with the beans and the roasting juices.
July 18, 2022 at 03:41PM Rachel Roddy