Crown roasts to me have always seemed rather intimidating.
So when my father decided that he wanted to make a pork crown roast for the benefit of any of our readers who actually might want to tackle it one day, I happily went along.
Here's the deal.
What Is a Crown Roast?
A crown roast of pork is nothing more than a bunch of pork rib chops nicely formed into a circle and tied up by your butcher. The butcher does most of the hard work (which is why this roast must be special ordered.)
Yes there is stuffing to be made, and your butcher should give you the little paper hats that go over the exposed rib bones for the final presentation.
You need a minimum of 13 ribs to tie up, and that makes for a rather compacted roast. A better size is 18-20 ribs.
The general guideline for planning is 2 ribs chops per person, though we, proud meat eaters, could barely finish one each, so it depends on the size of the ribs.
Use a Meat Thermometer
Because of the variability of the rib sizes and the overall shape of the roast, timing is a bit hard to gauge. You must use a meat thermometer.
We recommend a Chef Alarm, or one like it, where the probe stays in the roast the whole time while the roast is cooking, and the read-out unit is outside of the oven.
To Stuff or Not to Stuff a Crown Roast
We are still having a debate as to whether it is better to cook the roast with the stuffing in or cook it separately. We think most people will want to cook it with at least some of the stuffing in the roast to absorb some of the meat juices as the roast cooks. Cooking the stuffing separately however will allow you to have more evenly roasted meat.
Several sources went into the planning of this roast, The Good Cook series issue on pork (now long out of print, but sometimes available on eBay), Weber grill company, and Gourmet Magazine.
Pork Crown Roast
- 1 8-9 pound crown roast of pork (14 to 22 ribs, depending on how meaty the ribs), Frenched and prepped by butcher
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons Butter
- 4 cups cubed day-old bread (3/4-inch cubes)
- 1/2 pound Italian sausage meat
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
- 3/4 pound tart Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped sage (or 1/2 teaspoon dry)
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dry)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Season the pork roast:
Mix together the roast seasonings of thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Rub all over the pork roast. Let roast sit (wrapped) at room temperature for an hour before roasting.
Toast the cubed bread:
Heat a large sauté pan on medium heat. Melt 2 Tbsp butter in the pan, add the cubed bread, and stir to coat the bread pieces with the melted butter. Let bread cubes toast; only turn them when they have become a little browned on a side.
Brown the sausage:
Heat a large (4 to 6-qt) pan on medium heat. Breaking of inch-sized chunks, add the Italian sausage to the pan, taking care not to crowd the bottom of the pan.
Do not stir, just let cook until lightly browned on one side, then flip the sausage over and brown on the other side. When lightly browned, use a slotted spoon to remove, set aside.
Cook the onions and apples:
You should have at least a tablespoon of fat in the pan, if not, add some butter. Heat the pan to medium high. Add the onions and celery and cook until onions are translucent, 3-5 minutes.
Add the chopped apples and cook for a few minutes more.
Combine the stuffing:
Add back in the browned sausage, the butter toasted bread cubes, parsley, thyme, and sage. Gently mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
Prepare roasting pan and stuff the roast:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the crown roast in a shallow roasting pan. Fill the center of the crown loosely with stuffing (do not pack in the stuffing).
Whatever extra stuffing you have, place in a separate, buttered, oven proof pan.
Cover the tips of the ribs with aluminum foil to prevent scorching of the bones.
Add one cup water to the pan.
Roast the pork:
Roast the pork at 350°F on middle rack of oven. Cover the stuffing with foil after about 30 minutes.
Cook until a meat thermometer inserted deep into center of meat (do not touch bones, which are on the outside of the roast) registers 145°F, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours total.
Bake extra stuffing:
Add 1/2 cup of water to the remaining stuffing, and bake it (next to or under roast, starting 30 minutes before roast is done, or while the roast is resting), covered with foil, 30 minutes.
Let the pork rest:
Transfer pork to a platter and let stand 20 minutes.
To carve the pork, steady the roast with a fork, with a large sharp knife, cut down through each rib to detach the pork chops.