Pauls Valley, Oklahoma —
By the time you read this column, you are either planning your holiday menu or the holidays have just passed, and you are looking for something unique to fix. Either way, I have the solution.
Crown roast of pork. Need I say more? Just the sound of it is regal and exciting. And it's one of the most visually impressive main dishes you will ever serve. To make this cut even more
appealing, it delivers a great “cost-to-wow-factor.” That means it's not nearly as expensive
as it looks or tastes.
Plan on calling your butcher and have him create this cut for you. It is not easily done at home. When you call in your order, figure one rib per person. A typical crown roast is two rib racks that are bent into a circle and then tied together with kitchen twine.
The meatiest portion of the ribs are on the
bottom of the “crown” and face inward. Ask the butcher not to cut the big piece of fat that comes with this cut. Leaving it on while grilling will keep it moist – you will cut it off after the roast is fully cooked.
You can also ask the butcher to trim up the top of the rib bones to make the final product look
more like a crown.
You can rub down the roast with a variety of options. We tend to keep it simple and make a paste from kosher salt, fresh garlic, rosemary, basil, freshly cracked pepper, and olive oil.
We then make a homemade bread stuffing. If you don't trust yourself with making your own stuffing, but the boxed product and fix it over the stove. Many people put the uncooked stuffing in the middle of the roast and cook them together.
I tend to cook the stuffing separately and then add it to the middle of the roast just prior to it being served. Why? Because stuffing has egg, and egg needs to hit a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. I take the pork off the grill when it hits around 150 degrees.
The worse thing you can do is overcook the pork and undercook your stuffing.
If you have some time, consider being creative with your own homemade stuffing. I have a bread
maker, so I tend to make whole wheat and white breads. I cut the crusty tops off and collect them in the freezer in a zip bag.
I have a variety of homemade breads that I can then cube and use when it's time to make stuffing or homemade croutons.
You will want to set up your grill using indirect heat (10 or so briquettes on either side of your grill) and add some hickory chips when the coals are 50 percent ashen. Let the hickory burn off and then it's time to put your crown roast on the grill.
You may need to occasionally add briquettes to keep the heat up, probably once or twice. Depending on the size of your roast, plan on a cooking time of 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours. Just keep an eye on it and occasionally check the temperature of the meat. Do not let the
thermometer touch a bone. It will give you a false reading.
You may also want to wrap the top of each bone with a small piece of foil to keep the bones from getting charred and burnt during the barbecuing process.
Scoop the stuffing into the roast, let it stand for 20 minutes, then serve. Enjoy the roast!
Home Made Stuffing:
• 7 to 10 pieces of white or whole wheat bread, preferably the end pieces of the loaf.
• 3 tbsp. butter
• 1 stalk celery, chopped
• 1/2 med. onion, finely chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
• 1/2 tsp. sage
• 1/4 tsp. marjoram
• 1/8 tsp. pepper
• 1 cup of chicken broth
• 2 eggs
Cut crust ends of bread (white, whole wheat or both) into bit size pieces until you accumulate roughly five to six cups. Set aside.
In a sauce pan, saute' onions and celery in butter for 3 minutes or so, until the onion is slightly golden.
Add the chopped garlic and saute' for another two minutes. Now add all the spices. Stir, remove from heat and set aside until roughly room temperature.
Place bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. Add in the cooled mixture, the water or poultry broth and the beaten eggs. Mix with hands until all the bread is moist with the mixture.
Place in a greased shallow casserole dish, cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for roughly one hour. Add the cooked stuffing to middle of the crown roast while it is resting.
Dave Lobeck is a barbecue chef from Sellersburg, Ind., who writes a weekly column for CNHI News Service. Visit his website at www.BBQMyWay.com.