Crown Roast of Pork
Around a month ago, I was telling everyone that I would go fix up a crown roast of pork for Christmas dinner. Now, don’t laugh: my family is somewhat notorious for experimenting with the main course for Noche Buena, the traditional midnight meal.
One year, my mother made a fantastic morcon – a beef roulade filled with hard-boiled eggs, olives, and Spanish chorizo. Then, there was the year she made lengua con setas (braised ox tongue with mushroom gravy) and the year she made chicken Veronique. Save for the paella that has graced our Holiday table since time immemorial, our choices have been quite daring and unusual. That said, this year’s main course is no exception.
Of course, the bulk of the people I know being so gosh-darned negative about such elaborate plans, I was told that I would never be able to pull it off.
Well, shows you what they know! 😉
- How it looked when I first bought it…
The thing about crown roasts in this day and age is that these are no longer such a masochistic thing to do. For one thing, good cuts – and prepared sections – of meat are easily available at one’s supermarket. For another, crown roasts are sold pre-formed and sewn together. Plus, there is no danger of getting a tough one because they’re all quite tender.
A marinated roast
The smallest roast is actually a tad much even for a small family: approximately three and a quarter kilos of meat – sixteen rib chops – is plenty. But, stored properly, it keeps quite well and can be used as both a main course on Christmas Day and the basis for other meals afterwards.
The recipe I used for this roast is actually a combination of the marinade of one recipe and the cooking technique for another! Both were taken from Eleanor Graves’s Great Dinners from LIFE. The marinade is based on her recipe for Chinese grilled spareribs and the technique is a modified take on the one she used for her own crown roast of pork.
It’s one of the most elaborate recipes I’ve done so far and it would pretty much daunt a cook with less bravura, but try it for yourself and you will see that it is certainly worth all that effort. (Plus, there’s no end to what you can do with the leftovers: pulled pork sandwiches, pork and mushroom pizza, reheat some ribs and serve them over mashed potatoes…)
Dad and my brother looking on as Mom carves the roast
Crown Roast of Pork
- 1 3-1/4 kilo crown roast of pork, thawed if frozen (sixteen to eighteen ribs)
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup rum
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Combine the sugar, soy, rum, water, and spices in a large bowl that can fit the roast. (A large metal mixing bowl works here.) Put in the roast and rub all over with the marinade. Rub the roast every half-hour for a five-hour period.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees / Gas Mark 6. Affix aluminum foil onto the ends of the bones as shown above. Place the roast in a shallow rectangular baking tin and pour half the remaining marinade over it. Make a tent of aluminum foil over it, covering all sides. Put in the oven and cook for 1 hour.
When an hour has passed, open the oven and turn the pan around to ensure even cooking. Leave to cook for an additional hour.
At the end of the second hour, remove the foil and baste the roast well with the pan juices. Lower heat to 350 degrees / Gas Mark 4 and return the roast to the oven. Cook for an additional hour and a half.
Switch off the oven and take out the roast. Leave to cool in the pan for a few minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and carve at the table.
Some chunks from the roast and a heaping bowl of paella
Happy Holidays and Excellent Eating, everyone! 😉