Crown Roast of Pork
I love pork. Ham, bacon, pork chops, sausage, you name it, and I love it. It tastes great, and it's easy to make. A pork roast is an excellent entree to make when you have guests, because you can prepare it a few hours before their arrival, throw it in the oven, clean up, and seem totally in control by the time they walk through the door. And this was the case for me on Christmas Eve.
Because my parents and my brother's family attend Christmas Eve mass before coming to my house for dinner, I usually expect them to arrive around 7:30-8:00. Everyone arrives hungry, so I usually plan to serve dinner around 8:30. I ended up getting distracted and started the stuffing and pork a little bit later than I had planned. Once I realized this, all hell broke loose in my kitchen. The Husband turned into sous chef extraordinaire (complete with me acting as diva chef, yelling orders out in curt directives). However, once the stuffing was made, the roast was seasoned and stuffed, and then finally put into the oven, I felt human. A glass of wine could be enjoyed, while I finished up last details and waited for my family to arrive.
This is the third crown roast recipe that I've tried, and it is the best. The one from the Gourmet Cookbook was good (particularly since you wrap the roast in bacon), but I found the stuffing flat. This is from Martha Stewart, and I highly recommend it.
Crown Roast of Pork
Serves 12 to 14
1 large loaf dense rustic bread, trimmed of crust and torn into small pieces (8 cups)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups coarsely chopped onions (about 2 medium onions)
1/4 cup minced garlic
12 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-by-1/2-inch strips
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped prunes
1 1/2 cups pine nuts, toasted
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary plus rosemary sprigs optional fo rgarnish
1 cup homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 crown roast of pork (8 to 10 pounds), frenched
Seckel pears and lady apples, roasted (optional, and I didn't do it), for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread out break pieces on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, about 25 minutes. Let bread pieces cool completely. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.
2. While bread toasts, melt butter in a large saute pan over medium-low heat. Add onions and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add pancetta. Raise heat to medium-high; cook, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Stir in prunes, pine nuts, and 1 tablespoon rosemary. Transfer to a large bowl. Let cool completely.
3. Stir reserve bread, the stock, and wine into onion mixture. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
4. Rub pork inside and out with salt, pepper, and remaining 2 tablespoons rosemary. Transfer to a roasting pan. Loosely fill cavity with stuffing. Transfer remaining stuffing to a 9-by-13 inch baking pan, set aside. Cover pork with foil. Roast until and instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest park of pork (avoiding bone)registers 160 degrees F, about 2 hours. While pork roasts, bake received stuffing in pan, uncovered, until heated through and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Let pork stand 20 minutes before cutting into chops and serving with stuffing. Garnish with pears, apples, and rosemary, if desired.
Note: my butcher gave me an 11 pound roast, and it took about 2 hours and 20 minutes to get to 163 degrees F. It had an extremely faint hint of barely slight pink at the inner edge, which slightly worried me. However, it was PERFECTLY done. Juicy and white all of the way through, it's now safe to have a faint show of pink. If I did longer it could have been dried out!