Monday, December 26, 2011

Pork Crown Roast with Cherry Apple Stuffing

Christmas dinner, more so than Thanksgiving, calls out for grand presentation.   Growing up, no centerpiece on our family table seemed more grand than the crown roast.  A glistening ring of pork, each bone tipped with a quaint paper or foil cap...stuffing mounded and golden brown on top.  It seems so elegant.  So much time and care to craft something so magnicifent...

Despite not having many people over--no family up to visit, and friends off celebrating with their own-- I was bound and determined to make a glorious end to this first year of food blogging.  I went to a local butcher and ordered the roast.  Cooking the beast would be challenge enough; I wasn't prepared to trim, bind and french the loin myself.  The smallest cut I could procure was a 16 rib roast...weighing in at nearly 11 lbs.  Ross and I were going to eat like kings for days!

adapted from the BHG Cookbook

serves 12-16

The Ingredients: 
1 pork rib crown roast (12 to 16 ribs)
3/4 cups water
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1/2 tsp instant chicken bouillon granules
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp butter
4 cups dry bread cubes (6 to 7 slices)
1 medium apple, chopped
1/4 tsp ground sage
salt and pepper to taste

The Process:
Preheat oven to 325

Trim the fat from the roast, or ask your butcher to do that for you.  Place the roast, bone tips up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.  Sprinkle the cavity and outer edges with a generous pinch of salt. Make a ball of foil and press it into the cavity to hold it open as it cooks.  Wrap the bone tips with foil.  Roast in preheated oven for 1-1/2 hours.

Meanwhile prepare the stuffing.  In a small bowl stir together hot water, cherries and chicken bouillion.   Let stand for 5 mintues.  Do not drain.

In a small skillet sautee the celery and onion in butter until tender and translucent, but not browned.

In a large mixing bowl, toss together bread cubes, apple and sage.  And the cherry mixture and sauteed onions.  Toss gently until bread cubes are moistened.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add additional 1/4 cup of water or stock for a moister stuffing.

After 1 1/2 , remove roast from oven.  Remove the foil from the roast cavity.  Loosely pack stuffing into the center of the roast.   Cover stuffing loosely with foil.  Place any remaining stuffing in a lightly greased casserole.  Bake the stuffed roast an additional 45 to 60 minutes for a 6 lb roast or for 75 to 90 minutes for a 8-10 lb roast, or until a meat thermometer inserted at the thickest part of the roast registers 160. 

Add the casserole of stuffing to the oven for the last 45 minutes to heat through.

Remove roast from oven, cover with foil and let stand for 15 minutes.  This allows the juices to settle and redistribute throughout the roast.

To serve, spoon the stuffing out of the roast's cavity.  Slice the roast between each rib, and remove any cording used to bind the roast.

The Review:
Because our roast weighed in much heavier than the BHG's 5-6 roast, I needed to alter the cook time accordingly.  The lower heat and longer cook time did not dry out the meat in the slightest, though the stuffing may have suffered a bit from over doneness. 

The meat was tender, juicy and rich in its own pork flavors.  A thick band of beautiful white loin meat was attached to each rib, dripping with juices.  Just enough meaty goodness clung to the base of each rib to justify us gnawing on the bones like rabid dogs.  For as elegant as the roast looks, in the end, its' hard to eat while maintaining such refinement!  The sweet and tart stuffing complimented the roast well, but could have used a bit more salt and seasoning.  I do think the stuffing cooked in the casserole suffered of dryness.   I'd opt for a different bread than our multi-grain next time.  Perhaps a mixture of white, wheat, sourdough and rye.

The roast itself looks intimidating when first un-boxed.  In all honesty, this lovely (and pricey) piece of pork was no more of a challenge than a Thanksgiving turkey. 

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