Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Christmas Crown Roast

So I decided to tackle a crown roast for this past seems so seasonal and holiday-tastic, not to mention, who doesn't want a challenge on Dec. 25? Anyway, first challenge is finding a crown roast, which means hitting up a local butcher or a high-end specialty store since they are not readily available at your local supermarket, trust me. Be sure to ask the butcher to 'dress' the roast - meaning that it is tied up and arranged in a pretty circle, ready to be stuffed and cooked. Once the roast is cleaned, you want to lightly rub the outside with flour (I used whole wheat flour), a little water, oregano, salt and pepper. Not enough so that it is a paste, but it should be visible on the roast.

Hard at work, stuffing that roast.
As for the stuffing, which is a key part of the meal for sure, there are tons of variations, but I went with a green apple and sage stuffing which was unbelievably savory and just a little sweet. You'll need the regular stuffing ingredients - 2 tbsp butter, 1/4 cup diced celery, 1/4 cup diced white or yellow onion, a few cups of chic broth - and then you can either use 4 cups of toasted, cubed bread or the Stouffer's bags that they sell. Granted there are some extra spices in the Stouffer's bags, but nothing that will ruin the stuffing. Once you have cooked the main parts of the stuffing over low heat, you'll want to add in the two large green apples (diced, skin on), 1/3 cup splenda brown sugar and about ten leaves of fresh sage, cut into strips or torn. Cook the stuffing a few more minutes over very low heat and let it all mix together. If it is extremely dry, add a little more chicken broth. Then let it sit off the heat for at least 10 minutes before actually stuffing the roast.

Lastly, you want to place small pieces of foil on top of each piece of bone. You don't want to put a full piece of foil on the top of the whole roast - JUST the tips of the bones so that they don't dry out. Then you cook the roast in a deep roasting pan, completely stuffed, at 325 degrees for about 15-20 minutes per pound. We had a 12-pounder (and by the way, you won't find ones much smaller than that...this is definitely something to serve with guests over!) and it took just over three hours. Temperature-wise, you want the meat to be at about 150 degrees before you remove it from the oven. If that sounds too rare, you can cook it more, though I make no promises that it won't be dried out!!

Once the roast is out of the oven, you want to cover it with foil and let it sit for at about five minutes. Then to cut and serve it, you want to cut down through the space between the bone tips at the top. Like you're slicing a cake, the first piece/chop might be tough to extract, but moving forward the rest should come out nice & pretty.

The masterpiece is done cooking, though minus the fun little white crowns
on the bone tips...they are impossible to find!

Served with my own pear salad creation (toasted almonds, mixed greens, goat cheese & homemade pear vinaigrette).

- Melissa

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