For the centerpiece of the holiday meal at my house, sometimes it’s leg of lamb or a roasted whole goose. Sometimes it’s prime rib or a ham with pineapples and maraschino cherries. This year? A pork crown rib roast.
A pork crown rib roast is as delicious as it is elegant, but when it comes the cooking of it, the method couldn’t be easier. My preparations for any meat almost never waiver from an ample dusting of salt and pepper, followed by a marination for a few days before roasting—and nothing else. This keeps the recipe easy, but it also keeps all flavor on the meat. Pork, bought from a good butcher, will knock your socks off. I almost never add anything else—the crisp fat on the outside will be your favorite part. If I want other flavors—lemon, garlic, butter, Dijon mustard, horseradish—I will add those later in the form of condiments at the table, or simple sauces made in the roasting pan.
Rolling whole carrots in a blend of chili powder, brown sugar, and salt and then roasting them in a long baking dish until soft makes a dramatic partner for this dish, along with the requisite potatoes and something green.
Oh, and in my house we always have pork on New Year’s Day. A crown rib roast would be great for that, too, and leftovers would be a dream. Imagine the sandwiches: sliced pork with apricot horseradish (half and half apricot jam and horseradish), or a medianoche.
PORK CROWN RIB ROAST SELECTION, PREPARATION, & COOKING
SELECTING THE ROAST
Go to your favorite butcher shop. Ask for a 10-bone pork crown rib roast. The tips of the rib bones should be Frenched, that is, cleaned so the actual bone is exposed. That allows the roast to curl and look so dramatic and beautiful at the table. For a roast that serves more people, your butcher can tie two crown rib roasts together.
4 cups water
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup firmly-packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
5 cloves garlic, smashed
2 sprigs of rosemary
6 cups ice cubes
Bring all the ingredients except the ice to a boil and stir to dissolve the salt. Once the salt is dissolved, add the ice and pour the brine into a large container. Add the pork and, if necessary, weight the roast with plates to make sure it’s fully submerged. Brine the pork overnight or up to two days. Remove and rinse the pork to remove any spices on the roast.
COOKING THE ROAST
One brined pork crown rib roast
Preheat the oven to 325º F. Pat the pork dry with a lint-free towel. Lightly grease the roast with olive oil and generously season the pork with salt and pepper. Place the roast on a baking sheet lined with a metal roasting rack. (A roasting pan will also work.) Cover the exposed (Frenched) rib bones with foil and roast for 2 to 2-1/2 hours or until the internal temperature has reached 140º F. Carefully remove the pan from the oven and allow the pork to rest for 20 minutes. Slice and serve, or add some flair beforehand:
RIB ROAST PAPER FRILLS
Dear Martini Kitchen lays it beautifully: Fold a strip of paper lengthwise, leaving a lip about an 1/8 of an inch from the end. Create a fringe by making vertical cuts along the creased side but not cutting all the way through to the open lip. Open up the paper and fold it back over itself in the opposite direction then fold up the lip. Wrap one end of the strip around your finger, and where the ends overlap, cut. Secure with tape and fluff the fringe a bit so they puff out. Continue until you’ve made enough frills for each rib in your crown roast.