Pork Roast with Sweet-and-Sour Onions (Arrosto di Maiale con Cipolle in Agrodolce)

I’ve adapted this pork dish from one of Biba Caggiano’s recipes from the region Emilia-Romagna. The pork goes really well with the sweet and sour onions. Separately they are both good, but together they are delicious. You can roast the pork in the oven, or cook it sous-vide. It won’t be a surprise that I opted for the latter…


For 2 servings

300 grams (.66 lbs) boneless pork shoulder roast

1 sprig rosemary

2 sage leaves

1 clove garlic

freshly ground black pepper

extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp coarse salt

For the sweet-and-sour onions

2 onions, sliced into rings

125 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine

2 Tbsp dark brown sugar

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp butter



The pork will be flavored with aglione, a herb mixture that is used in Emilia-Romagna to add flavor to meat dishes.

Chop the rosemary (needles only), sage, garlic, and coarse salt very fine.

Add freshly ground black pepper and stir to mix.

Rub the meat with the aglione on all sides.

If cooking sous-vide, vacuum seal and then scald in hot water (at least 80C/180F or boiling) for 10-20 seconds until the meat has lost its raw color. Then cook sous-vide at 57C/135F for 48 hours. The scaling procedure is needed to mitigate the risk of a bad smell developing.

If roasting in the oven, refrigerate the meat rubbed with aglione for a few hours. Brown the meat in olive oil over medium heat, and roast it in the oven at 175C/350F to a core temperature of 65C/150F (about 90 minutes). Baste the meat every 15 minutes or so with a bit of white wine and the juices. Let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the onions. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and add the onions. Sauté for a few minutes.

Add the white wine and bring it to a boil.

As soon as the wine boils, lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pan. Simmer gently for 30-45 minutes until the onions are tender but still firm to the bite. Stir the onions now and then and check whether you need to add a bit more wine or water.

Remove the lid, and cook over high heat, stirring, until most of the liquid has disappeared.

Add sugar, red wine vinegar, and balsamic vinegar, and season with salt.

Cook, stirring, until the onions are golden and the pan juices have thickened and coat the onions.

Taste and adjust the seasoning.

If you cooked the meat sous-vide, there will be juices in the pouch.

Pour the juices into a saucepan.

Bring to a boil and skim off the scum that will appear on the surface.

Filter the juices through a fine sieve to remove any remaining scum.

Pat the meat dry with paper towels.

Brown in olive oil over high heat on all sides.

Carve the meat.

Serve on warm plates with the onions.

Wine pairing

I recommend a full-bodied fruity but dry white wine with this dish. I prefer white wine over red with most white meat dishes.


11 thoughts on “Pork Roast with Sweet-and-Sour Onions (Arrosto di Maiale con Cipolle in Agrodolce)

  1. So I was thinking of you because J gave me a copy of Modernist Cuisine at Home (1 volume, not 8!) for my birthday and it says (1) that I can cook sous vide in a canning jar and (2) that I should set my water heater 5 degrees hotter than I want to cook sous vide with and just fill up a basin of the sink with tap water to cook right there. What do you think of THAT?! 🙂


  2. It’s funny. You never know which TV cooks/chefs “travel” and which remain local. Biba was Mom’s favorite and remains Zia’s and she has her cookbooks. So, coming here today, I learned 2 things: a) Biba’s appeal stretched across The Pond and, b) another great recipe. Thanks, Stefan. Next visit I’ll see if I can find tis recipe in one of her books. 🙂


    1. I don’t think she’s very popular here — I only know her because I got one of her books as a gift ages ago. And then I bought most of the other books myself. I’ve basically learned Italian cooking from her books. I’ve even eaten at her restaurant in Sacramento, but unfortunately she was sick and wasn’t around.


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