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Posted: 4:33 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17, 2012
Crown Roast of Pork with Fennel and Lemon
By Melissa Clark
For the New York Times
The kind of meat — beef, pork, turkey, lamb — is less important than its size. You want something that makes people sit up and notice, something with stage presence, something that doesn’t require trimmings and sauces and garnishes. The meat should speak for itself.
A crown roast of pork fills the bill nicely. It even sounds majestic, though you’d need a gargantuan head for the coronation.
Its shape gives crown roast its name. A bone-in pork loin is trimmed of excess fat and gristle so the bones protrude white and shining. Then the whole thing is tied into a ring.
Traditionally, crown roasts have been cooked with the bones standing up, which gave rise to the tradition of covering them with those frilly little paper toques to keep the tips from burning.
But a few years ago a friend advised me to roast the meat upside down. The juices that drip down from the pork keep the bones from blackening, she said. Even better, the layer of fat on the bottom of the roast is exposed to the dry heat of the oven, giving it a chance to brown and crisp. You can use a rack to hold the teetering roast upside down. Or, if it’s tied tightly enough, it might balance on its own bones.
And about those bones: You can serve the meat carved off them into neat slices, or pork-chop style with the bones in tow. Gnawers like myself will appreciate the latter option.
As with all good cuts of meat, a crown roast doesn’t need more than salt, pepper and a slick of oil for cooking. But fresh herbs and a little garlic, lemon and fennel seed can only make it better. I added fennel pollen as well, just to heighten the licorice flavor. But if you don’t have any, or don’t like it, leave it out. Your favorite spice rub is also an option. Orange zest, chili flakes and sage; cumin, coriander and thyme; scallions, ginger root, soy sauce; marmalade, mustard and shallot.
If you have time, season the meat the night before so it has a chance to absorb all the good flavors. Let it come to room temperature before roasting so it cooks evenly. Then serve up your roast beast in all its glory, a celebratory dish for this festive time of year.
1 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
Rosemary leaves from 2 bushy sprigs
5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup sage leaves and tender sprigs
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. fennel pollen (optional)
1 Tbsp. plus 1 pinch coarse kosher salt
5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 8- to 9-lb. crown roast of pork (10 to 12 ribs)
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
In small skillet, toast fennel seeds until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
Place toasted fennel seeds, rosemary, garlic, sage, lemon zest, fennel pollen (if using) and pinch of salt in blender. Run blender briefly to chop everything up, then add olive oil, and blend until mixture becomes a paste, scraping down sides occasionally with a rubber spatula.
Wipe pork with paper towels, then season evenly with remaining tablespoon salt and the pepper. Smear herb paste all over meat, making sure to coat the middle and the crevices on the sides of the chops. Let marinate at room temperature for at least 2 hours, or longer in refrigerator. (Overnight is ideal.) If you’ve chilled the meat, bring to room temperature for at least an hour before roasting.
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place roast upside down (bones down) in large roasting pan. (You can use a rack to help steady it if you like.) Roast for 20 minutes, then turn heat down to 350 and continue roasting until meat registers 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours longer. Let rest 10 minutes before carving. Serves 10 to 12.
Pork Roast stuffed with Dried Fruit and Port Sauce
This is an adapted recipe from Epicurious.com’s first cookbook, “The Epicurious Cookbook,” which came out this year and contains more than 250 of the best recipes from the popular cooking website. The Epicurious recipe used a bone-in pork loin, also called a crown roast. They stuffed the meat with a mixture of apricots, prunes and apples and roasted it with a layer of bacon on top.
To cut down on the cost, number of servings and cooking time, I adapted the recipe for a smaller boneless pork loin, which I asked the butcher at my grocery store to butterfly. With both cuts of meat, you simmer the fruit and port for the stuffing, and if you have any extra or if you can’t make a stove-top pan sauce with your roasting pan (as outlined in the recipe), you can add a little more port and continue to cook until you have a nice chutney-esque sauce to serve alongside the meat.
Feel free to use pears or plums instead of apples and dried cherries; figs, cranberries, dates or raisins instead of dried apricots and prunes; and if you don’t have port handy, a sweet red wine with a hint of extra sugar thrown in is a fine substitute.
The Epicurious method for stuffing meat is this: Make a pocket in center of roast by making a horizontal 1 1/2-inch-wide cut into one end of roast with a long thin knife, repeating from opposite end so pocket runs all the way through. Then make a vertical cut through center (forming a cross) to widen pocket. Push about 1 cup stuffing into pocket using a long-handled wooden spoon (you may need to stuff from both sides if roast is long).
If you stuff a butterflied piece of meat, you can tie it up with kitchen twine, which you (or your guests) have to remove before eating. (You also end up with more stuffing inside the meat using this technique.) Feel free to use whichever method seems a best fit for your skills, tools and desired outcome.
A small roast will take as little as 25 minutes to cook, so have your meat thermometer handy. (The Department of Agriculture lowered the safe cooking temperature for pork to 145 degrees from 160 last year. Take into consideration that the temperature will continue to rise after you’ve removed the meat from the oven.)
You can stuff the roast and wrap in bacon a day ahead of time, which will allow the meat to absorb more of the flavors.
1/4 lb. dried apricots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 lb. pitted prunes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2/3 cup ruby port
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
3/4 stick unsalted butter
1 tart apple such as Granny Smith, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 (2- to 3-pound) boneless pork loin, butterflied
6 to 8 bacon slices
Salt and pepper
For port sauce:
1/2 cup ruby port
1 small shallot, finely chopped
2 tsp. flour
An hour before you plan to cook the meat, remove the loin from the fridge and rest, covered, on the counter.
In a small saucepan with the lid on, simmer apricots, prunes (or other dried fruit) and port for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, still covered, for 10 minutes.
Cook onion and shallot in butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add apple, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until apple is just tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in apricot mixture and cool.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Rub salt and pepper on the outside of the butterflied pork loin and then open the meat on a cutting board. Spread the cooled mixture in the middle. Close the loin and, using kitchen twine, tie the roast in several places to keep the filling in place. (I found that turning the stuffed loin on its side, with the crease on a cutting board and the open end on the top, allowed me to securely tie the meat without the stuffing falling out. Place strips of bacon on top of the loin.
Put the stuffed and bacon-wrapped meat on a rack in a heavy roasting pan and roast for 15 minutes. Then reduce temperature to 325 degrees and continue roasting for another 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the loin, until a thermometer registers 140 degrees. Transfer roast to a cutting board, reserving pan juices, and let stand, loosely covered with foil, 15 to 20 minutes.
Skim fat from pan drippings and reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons fat. Straddle roasting pan across 2 burners and add port to drippings, then deglaze pan by boiling over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. (If your roasting pan is not suited for use on the stove-top, you’ll have to skip this sauce-making method.) Strain pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids.
Cook shallot in reserved fat in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in pan juices, 1 1/4 cups water and any reserved fruit stuffing and bring to a simmer. Whisk together flour and 1/4 cup water until smooth, then whisk into sauce with any juices from cutting board.
Simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Carve roast, removing kitchen twine, if using, then serve with sauce. Serves 4 to 6.
— Adapted from a recipe in “The Epicurious Cookbook” (Clarkson Potter, $27.99)
If pork isn’t your favorite — or you’re just looking for a really great beef prime rib recipe — check out this version from “The Chew” co-host Michael Symon, whose new book, “Carnivore,” is all about meat. “Prime rib is one of the most expensive cuts on the entire beast, but it has everything you could want in a cut of beef,” he writes. “The bones and fat add tons of flavor, and when cooked properly, the meat is melt-in-your-mouth tender. While I love a great rare steak, prime rib actually benefits from a little more cooking. Taking this to medium-rare (or a shade past) allows the fat to melt and baste the meat while pulling more flavor from the bones.” Symon recommends asking the butcher to remove the meat from the bones, but don’t leave them behind. The ribs act as a rack for you to roast the meat on. One of the most crucial pieces of this recipe is letting the meat warm at room temperature for at least an hour before cooking and letting it rest for at least 20 minutes so all the juices won’t run out of the meat and onto your cutting board.
4-bone prime rib, bones and excess fat removed and reserved
4 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled, smashed
4 oz. arugula, for garnish (optional)
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish (optional)
Liberally season the prime rib with the salt and some pepper and refrigerate overnight.
An hour before cooking, remove the roast from the refrigerator to allow it to come to room temperature.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Put the reserved ribs in a roasting pan bowed-side-up. Scatter any fat and meat trimmings in the pan around the bones. Roast the bones and trimmings for about 30 minutes, or until the fat starts to render.
Remove the pan from the oven, put the rosemary sprigs on top of the bones, and then top with the prime rib. The ribs will be acting as the roasting rack. Put the smashed garlic in the bottom of the pan with the trimmings. Baste the beef with the fat drippings and return the pan to the oven.
Cook for 30 minutes and then baste the roast again.
Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and cook until the meat is medium-rare (an internal temperature of 125 to 130 degrees), about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Keep basting the roast every 30 minutes until it is done. Keep in mind that the roast will continue to cook while resting.
Remove the roast from the oven and put it on a cutting board to rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Slice the prime rib to the desired thickness and garnish with the arugula and olive oil, if using. Serves 6.
— From “Carnivore” (Clarkson Potter, $35) by Michael Symon