What is “Maiale di Firenze?”
“Firenze”, better known in America as Florence and “maiale” which we know as pork…therefore, Pork of Florence. On our recent trip to Tuscany, we learned of the deliciousness that is tender pork braised in red wine and slow cooked all day with other local ingredients. Not only did we eat such a dish, we enjoyed it in a small winery “ristoro”, a mini-restaurant of sorts. Being the only patrons there at the time, we were welcomed as if we were family and was given free range of where we wanted to be seated in this 1500’s home turned restaurant. We chose what might have been a formal dining room and placed ourselves at a table in front of tall old doors in which our gracious hostess opened to the beautiful open-aired view. As we enjoyed our homemade bread and local olive oil, the smells of our upcoming dishes teased our senses and sparked our excitement. The scents even peaked interest of the town dog as he decided to come in and greet us at our table (Point #1: No dogs are allowed however we sort of encouraged his visit. Point #2: I use the world town very loosely…maybe 5 houses.) Of course, our hostess gasped at the presence of the canine visitor and shoo’ed him away with flailing arms and quick Italian words. She said, “He knows better.” We sat giggling under our breaths.
We enjoyed several dishes during that meal, but one especially hit our comfort zone…braised pork over lukewarm potatoes. When I asked about the dish, our hostess Emi said it was a typical dish of Florence. I didn’t ask why the potatoes were served lukewarm, but it was specifically mentioned. I’m going to take a wild guess and say it’s either because potatoes hold so much heat that it would have overpowered the pork or because the gold potatoes set up better once they start to cool. Either way, we are still talking about this particular dish.
One aspect of Tuscany I really loved is they mainly cook with what is local and in season. Pork and boar are both very popular in that region and are found as main courses in many of restaurants we discovered. This particular “ristoro” listed where all of their ingredients were from right in the menu. Instead of at the end of our trip, I wish we would have found this restaurant first as it would have been nice to go back several times. Anyway, with inspiration from Tuscany, along with Rosen Shingle Creek’s Cala Bella Italian Restaurant, here is my recreation of “Maiale di Firenze” for the Food & Wine Conference recipe contest. (Follow Rosen Shingle Creek on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+)
- 2 lbs. Pork Tenderloin, sliced in small, thin pieces
- 2 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 TB Unbleached Flour
- 1 Clove of Garlic, Minced
- ½ C. Merlot (or Chianti Riserva)
- 1 C. Tomato Juice
- 2 C. Chicken Broth
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 3 Sprigs Thyme, stemmed
- 2 Sprigs Oregano
- 1 Sprig Rosemary
- 2 Carrots, finely shredded
- ½ Onion, finely chopped
- 1 TB Brown Sugar
- 1 TB Balsamic Vinegar
- ¼ t. Ground Sage
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper
- 4 large Gold Potatoes, peeled, boiled and sliced
- Heat EVOO in dutch kettle.
- Toss pork strips in unbleached flour and salt & pepper.
- Brown pork and garlic in oil.
- Add merlot and let boil for a few minutes. Pour in tomato juice and chicken broth. Add bay leaf, thyme, oregano, rosemary, carrots, onion, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and sage.
- Bring to a boil, cover and let reduce on low heat for 1½ hours or until thick. You might add another TB of flour if your pork is finished and the sauce needs a bit more thickening. Salt & pepper to taste.
- Remove bay leaf & herb sprigs before serving.
- Spoon pork mixture over salted potato slices.