Sunday, December 26, 2004

Recipe: Crown Roast Of Pork With Apricot-Wheat Bread Stuffing

This is what we served for our holiday feast:

Crown Roast of Pork with Apricot-Wheat Bread Stuffing

A crown roast is basically a string of pork rib chops that haven't been cut apart. The ends of the meat are tied together with a string to make a ring, and the meat is cut away from the ends of the ribs so that they stick up. The space in the center of the ring can be stuffed. The roast is carved by cutting downward in between the rib bones to separate the chops.

Crown roasts are expensive, but the presentation is so impressive that they make excellent holiday dishes. Mine actually wasn't that bad-- I got it at Sam's Club for about $2 per pound, half what the grocery stores wanted for it. You just ask the butcher to prepare it for you, and it comes already tied in the crown formation. Normally you have to bake the roast with the stuffing inside from the get-go until the temperature of the stuffing is high enough to kill bacteria, but because this stuffing is put in hot after the meat is mostly done, you don't have to worry about that.

Despite the length of the directions, this roast has a surprisingly high compliment-to-effort ratio.

For the roast:
1 crown roast of pork, (approximately 9-10 lbs.)
1 can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 cup white zinfandel (I used Sutter "Fre" dealcoholized white zinfandel)
aluminum foil

Place roast in a roasting pan. Cover the rib bone ends with pieces of aluminum foil, and put a ball of aluminum foil in the center cavity of the roast to hold it open while cooking. Place in the oven at 325 degrees. Mix the orange juice concentrate with the wine. Baste with the juice/wine mixture periodically. Roast for about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare the stuffing:
1 c. dried apricots
hot water
1 large loaf wheat sandwich bread
3/4 lb. butter (you heard me, 3/4 lb! This is a holiday.)
2 large onions, chopped
2 large apples, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 tsp. dried lemon peel (or 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon zest)
1 tsp. dried sage

Cover the apricots with the hot water and let stand. Break the sandwich bread into pieces. Drain and chop the apricots. Melt the butter in a large pan. Saute the chopped veggies and fruits in the butter until the onions start to get soft; add seasonings. Mix with the bread pieces.

When the roast reaches about 130-140 degrees, remove the foil ball from the center (do not remove the foil covering the bones). Stuff the cavity with the stuffing, and put the remainder of the stuffing in an oven-safe dish. Return roast and dish of stuffing to the oven. Continue baking until the meat reaches 160 to 165 degrees. Let stand about 10 minutes before carving.

I garnished my roast by placing it on a bed of parsley and surrounding it with dried apricots, one at each chop. We took the molho (gravy for the non-Portuguese), thickened it, and served it over the mashed potatoes; it was interesting because the molho was very citrusy.