Dario Cecchine is known throughout Tuscany for his skill as a butcher and for his obvious energetic charm. He picked up his
knowledge of the ancient ways of treating meat from his father and grandfather and from the research he's done. He considers
himself an Etruscan (thought to be one of the first groups to settle Tuscany), and he uses what he calls Etruscan flavor
combinations of herbs, vinegar, and honey.
I had the good fortune of watching as he prepared pork for a customer. He sliced it into smooth wide strips, drizzled it
with his homemade vinegar, then sprinkled on herbs that he took from attractive jars and a huge basket that surrounded his
workspace. These he crushed carefully into the pork, then wrapped it up like a gift. Before he handed it to the customer,
he gave the package a powerful whack on each side, "To help the vinegar and spices penetrate," he said.
Dario's macerated pork is redolent with aromatic herbs and a hint of acidity from the vinegar. Make and enjoy it,
for it embodies the flavor of the Tuscan countryside.
I like to serve this pork with an accommodating red wine, such as Brunello di Montalcino.
4 to 6 servings
| (CLICK TO BUY)
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3/8-inch-thick slices*
1 teaspoon best-quality red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 imported dried bay leaves, broken into small pieces
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
* FreshDirect Note: Because our boneless pork shoulder roast
tends to run larger (about 5.5 lb), we recommend substituting 2 lb boneless pork loin (about 6 chops).
Lay the pork slices in a single layer on a sheet of parchment or waxed paper placed on a work surface.
Cover them with another sheet of parchment or waxed paper. Gently pound each slice several times with a
meat mallet or rolling pin, moving the instrument away from you as it hits the meat so as to encourage
the meat to flatten, rather than just pulverizing it. Uncover the meat and sprinkle the vinegar evenly
over one side of each slice.
||Crush the herbs, spices, and salt together in a mortar with a pestle, then sprinkle them evenly over one side
of the slices. Stack the slices of pork in 2 equal-size stacks, wrap them in parchment or waxed paper, and
refrigerate for 24 hours.
||Preheat a barbecue grill to medium-high. If using charcoal, when the coals are red and dusted with ash,
spread them out and place the rack on the barbecue. When the rack is hot (after 1 to 2 minutes), lay the slices
of pork on the rack and grill until the pork is cooked through and crisp, about 2 minutes per side.
||Remove from the fire and serve while blistering hot.
Excerpted from ITALIAN FARMHOUSE COOKBOOK copyright © 2000 Susan Herrmann Loomis.
Reprinted with the permission of Workman Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.