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Pork Crown Roast with Dried-Fruit-Sourdough Stuffing and Brandy Cream Sauce

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Serves 16

  • by Bruce Weinstein, Mark Scarbrough from Fine Cooking
    Issue 120

Move over, turkey. This may well be the new “it” roast for the holidays, especially if you’re cooking for a crowd. The center of this grand roast is filled with a hearty bread and fruit stuffing that absorbs great flavor from the pork. While the pork rests after roasting, more stuffing is baked separately so everyone at the table gets plenty.

For the stuffing
  • 16 cups 1-inch-cubed sourdough bread (with crust; from about 1 lb.)
  • 4-1/2 cups dry white wine (from two 750-ml bottles)
  • 10 oz. dried apricots, quartered (1-1/2 cups)
  • 10 oz. dried figs, stemmed and quartered lengthwise (1-1/2 cups)
  • 7-1/2 oz. dried tart cherries (1-1/2 cups)
  • 7-1/2 oz. golden raisins (1-1/2 cups)
  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 4 cups minced celery (from 1 bunch)
  • 1 lb. shallots, minced (2-1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup brandy
For the pork
  • 1 16-bone frenched crown roast of pork (about 12 lb., chine bones cracked)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce
  • 1/3 cup brandy
  • 2 cups lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Flaky sea salt, for finishing
Make the stuffing

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Spread the bread cubes on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake until dry and pale golden, about 15 minutes. Let the bread cool to room temperature on the pan on a rack.

Bring the wine, apricots, figs, cherries, and raisins to a boil in a 4- to 5-quart pot over medium-high heat. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is very tender and the wine is reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 30 minutes. Transfer the fruit mixture to an 8- to 10-quart bowl. (If the fruit is tender before the wine is reduced, transfer it with a slotted spoon to the bowl and continue to boil until the wine is reduced to 1/2 cup.)

Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the celery and shallots and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the thyme, sage, 2 tsp. salt, and 2 tsp. pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add to the fruit mixture, stir well, and let cool at room temperature for at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours.

Add the bread cubes and brandy to the fruit mixture and stir well to combine.

Stuff and roast the pork

While making the stuffing, let the pork sit in a large heavy-duty roasting pan, with the bones pointing up, at room temperature for 30 minutes to take the chill off the meat.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven (there should be 2 or 3 inches of headspace between the pork and the broiler element) and heat the oven to 350°F.

Rub the outside of the pork with the oil and season all over with 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. Spoon about half of the stuffing into the center of the roast, packing it tightly and mounding it at the top. Loosely cover the bones and the stuffing with a piece of aluminum foil. Roast for 2-1/2 hours.

Remove the foil and continue roasting until a probe or instant-read thermometer inserted between the bones into the eye of the meat registers 150°F, 20 to 30 minutes more. Check the temperature in several places, including the interior top section of meat, to be sure the meat is up to temperature throughout. If the stuffing or bones start to get too dark at any point, return the foil to the top of the roast.

Using two large metal spatulas, transfer the whole stuffed roast to a large carving board. Reserve the juice in the pan. Let the pork rest for 30 minutes while you heat the remaining stuffing and prepare the sauce.

Increase the oven temperature to 400°F. Spoon the remaining half of the stuffing into a shallow 2-quart baking dish and bake, uncovered, until golden-brown, about 30 minutes.

Make the sauce and finish the roast

Pour the reserved pan juice into a fat separator. (Or pour into a large measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes to separate, then skim off the fat). Set the roasting pan over medium-high heat, add the brandy, and boil until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the juice  (leaving the fat in the separator, if using) into the roasting pan, add the broth, and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spatula to scrape up any browned bits from the pan. Boil until reduced to 1 cup, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the cream and return to a boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper; transfer to a gravy boat for serving.

To carve the roast, snip and discard the twine. Use a large chef’s knife to slice between the bones. There’s no need to remove the stuffing before carving. Season the meat with sea salt and serve with the stuffing and the sauce.

Make Ahead Tips

You can toast the bread up to 1 day ahead. Store at room temperature.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 1220; Fat (g): 47; Fat Calories (kcal): 420; Saturated Fat (g): 19; Protein (g): 106; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 19; Carbohydrates (g): 69; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 6; Sodium (mg): 830; Cholesterol (mg): 300; Fiber (g): 6;

Photo: Scott Phillips

This is as tasty as it is impressive. The stuffing was amazing. I wasn't sure about the sweet fruit but the celery and shallots offset it really well.

wonderful dish. definitely worth making. 1 recommendation is to check pork 30 minutes prior finishing. We happened to check the meat with a meat thermometer ...thank goodness we did because it cooked quickly. Loved it! The fruit is great with the pork. And the brandy cream sauce finished it perfectly.

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