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Crown Roast of Pork with Fennel-Apple Stuffing & Cider-Bourbon Sauce

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Serves 10-14

  • To learn more, read:
    Roasts to Boast About
  • by Allison Ehri Kreitler from Fine Cooking
    Issue 89

This is the time of year to pull out all the stops and make something really fancy like this stuffed crown roast of pork. But don’t worry: since you buy the roast already tied, all you have to do is treat the center of the roast like a bowl and fill it up. This is definitely one to carve at the table so everyone can appreciate how gorgeous it is.

For the sauce:
  • 1 quart apple cider
  • 2 cups bourbon
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tbs. cider vinegar; more to taste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the stuffing:
  • 1 lb. Tuscan bread (or similar crusty artisan-style bread), cut into 1/2-inch cubes (8 to 9 cups)
  • 8 oz. bacon (8 to 10 slices), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips
  • 2-1/2 oz. (5 Tbs.) unsalted butter
  • 2 medium-small yellow onions, cut into small dice (about 2 cups)
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, cut into medium dice (about 3 cups)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt; more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper; more to taste
  • 4 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
  • 2 Tbs. bourbon
  • 2 Tbs. apple cider
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh marjoram
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tsp. fennel seeds, lightly chopped or pulsed in a spice grinder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 2 to 2-1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
For the roast:
  • 16-rib crown roast of pork (8-1/2 to 9-1/2 lb.), chine bone removed and bones frenched; see sidebar below for more information
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Make the sauce reduction
Tip:
The sauce can be made to this point and refrigerated up to 2 days ahead.

Put the cider, bourbon, and chicken broth in a 3- to 4-quart (preferably 8-inch-wide) saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a very brisk simmer and cook until the sauce has reduced to 1-1/4 cups, about 1 hour. Set aside until the roast is done.

Make the stuffing base:

Put the bread on a rimmed baking sheet and let it sit out to dry overnight.

Cook the bacon in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until just crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a large mixing bowl. Pour off and discard all but about 1 Tbs. of the bacon fat. Add 3 Tbs. of the butter to the skillet and melt over medium heat. Add the onions, fennel, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until just softened and lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the bacon.

Melt the remaining 2 Tbs. butter in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apples and cook, tossing or stirring occasionally, until nicely browned on a few sides but still firm, 4 to 6 minutes. Mix the bourbon with the apple cider and 3 Tbs. water. Carefully add it to the pan, scraping with a wooden spoon to loosen the brown bits stuck to the pan. Cook until the deglazing liquid has reduced and coats the apples, about 1 minute. Add the apples to the bowl. Add the marjoram, sage, fennel seeds, and allspice and stir to combine.

Stuff & cook the roast:

Let the roast sit out at room temperature for 1 hour. If the stuffing base was refrigerated, let it sit at room temperature, too.

Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and heat the oven to 500°F. Season the roast all over with salt and pepper. Put the roast on an oiled flat rack set in a roasting pan or heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet. Cover the bones tightly with aluminum foil. Roast the pork for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir the dried bread into the stuffing base. Pour 2 cups of the chicken broth over the mixture and stir to combine. If the bread immediately sucks up the liquid, add the remaining 1/2 cup broth. The bread should be moist but not soggy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Take the roast out of the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Remove the foil from the bones and loosely fill the center of the roast with stuffing, mounding it half way up to the top of the bones (don’t worry if the roast doesn’t hold very much stuffing; just put in as much as you can). Cover the bones and stuffing tightly with aluminum foil.

Set a timer for 1 hour and return the roast to the oven. Wrap the remaining stuffing in a double layer of aluminum foil and set aside. When the timer goes off, put the wrapped stuffing seam side up in the oven next to the roast. Set a timer for 30 minutes.

When the timer goes off, remove the foil from the roast and open the package of stuffing so the top can crisp up. Set a timer for 15 minutes. When it goes off, start checking for doneness: Insert an instant-read thermometer into the meat between two bones without hitting the bones. The roast is done when the thermometer reads 155° F. Check the temperature in two or three places. The total roasting time will be 2-1/2 to 3 hours.

Slide a wide spatula under the roast to keep the stuffing in and transfer it to a carving board or serving platter. Tent loosely with foil and let rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, continue to bake the package of stuffing until the top is crisp and then turn off the oven. Leave the stuffing in the oven until ready to serve.

Finish the sauce:

Shortly before serving, reheat the sauce in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove the sauce from the heat and whisk in the sour cream and vinegar. Season the sauce to taste with salt, pepper, and additional vinegar. Transfer the sauce and the additional stuffing to serving bowls.

Plate & serve:

Remove the strings from the roast. At the table, carve the roast into chops by cutting between the ribs into the stuffing. Serve the sauce and additional stuffing on the side.

Make Ahead Tips

The stuffing base can be prepared and refrigerated for up to 12 hours. Add the bread and chicken broth just before stuffing the roast.

Drink Suggestions

Look for a big, well-oaked yet balanced Burgundy-style Chardonnay to go with the robust sweet-tart flavors of the crown roast of pork. The Matanzas Creek Winery 2005 Chardonnay from Sonoma Valley makes a stunning pairing.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on 14 servings; Calories (kcal): 580; Fat (g): 22; Fat Calories (kcal): 200; Saturated Fat (g): 9; Protein (g): 42; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 9; Carbohydrates (g): 34; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): 880; Cholesterol (mg): 105; Fiber (g): 4;

Photo: Scott Phillips

I have to agree with MichellesCakes. It was a good meal, but not outstanding, especially for the price. I expect a bit more from a $100 recipe. There were no technical challenges, and the finished product was visually pleasing, but the flavor was a bit lacking.

I was very excited about making this and I followed the recipe exactly. Never having done this before, I was concerned about the pork being dry, but it wasn't. I took it out and let it rest and it continued cooking to perfection -- it was a little pink and very moist. However, I must have missed something because the pork was very bland and just didn't knock my socks off. Stuffing was good and I got no complaints; but I didn't get any major raves either. I am not sure I would do this again.

This is an excellent and fairly easy recipe; on reading it through it may seem a little fussy, but in reality, it's not. Every step has it's logic. The pork roast was perfectly done and juicy, I cooked to an internal temp of 145. After resting, it gained in internal temp but did not dry out the meat. The stuffing is fantastic, but I would reccommed draining the bacon on paper towel briefly to avoid a slightly greasy mouthfeel- which was not evident in the finished roast. Also I did not use all the bread- it didn't seem necessary and I wanted more apple presence in the stuffing. The gravy is excellent- tart and sweet. Great with mashed potatoes and roasted green beans or brussel sprouts. This recipe showcases a wonderful ( and pricey!) cut of pork much better than most. Thanks for making it available!

This was the best pork dinner I have ever prepared. My guests thought the meal was catered. Tip: I used 3 different apples, 2 sweet to go along with the granny smiths, and keep a mixture of water and cider in the bottom of pan while cooking, this keeps the meat moist.

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