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Crown Roast of Pork

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Special equipment: flameproof roasting pan, instant-read thermometer, aluminum foil

INGREDIENTS:

Stuffing:

6 slices firm white sandwich bread, cut into 1-inch squares

3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter

1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion

1/2 cup finely chopped celery including some leaves

1 1/2 pounds tart apples such as Granny Smith, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage or 1/4 teaspoon dried sage

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Pinch of ground cinnamon

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Roast:

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1/2 bunch thyme, leaves only

1/2 bunch fresh sage, leaves only

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

9- to 11-pound crown roast of pork (about 12 to 14 ribs), oven ready (tied, bones frenched)

Pan Sauce: 1 1/2 cups water, 1/4 cup red-currant or apple jelly

Optional garnish: fresh herbs or watercress

PROCEDURE

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread bread squares in 1 layer in a shallow baking pan and bake in middle of oven until dry and lightly toasted, about 15 minutes. Leave oven on (for roast) and cool bread. Cook onion and celery in butter in large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in apples, sugar, salt, pepper, sage, thyme, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Reduce heat to low, then cook, covered, stirring, until apples are tender but not mushy, about 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in bread squares, parsley, and chives. Set aside.

2. Set rack on the bottom third of the oven so the roast will fit completely inside (in my oven I have to use the lowest setting). Prepare the rub: With the motor running drop garlic into food processor fitted with metal blade; mince. Add thyme, sage, salt and pepper to taste; pulse on/off until chopped; add oil and pulse to blend. Rub pork all over with mixture. Place in flameproof roasting pan.

3. Mound stuffing in cavity. Wrap tips of rib bones with foil to prevent burning. Roast 30 minutes and then cover stuffing loosely with a round of foil. Roast about 2 more hours or until instant-read thermometer (inserted 2 inches into center (thickest part without touching bone) registers 150 to 155 degrees. Transfer to cutting board. Let stand 15 minutes lightly covered with foil before carving (temperature will come up about 5 more degrees and will be slightly pink in center).

4. While meat rests, prepare pan sauce: Skim fat from pan drippings. Straddle pan across 2 burners and add water, then deglaze pan by boiling over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits. Pour through a fine sieve into a saucepan, discarding solids. Add jelly and any juices accumulated on carving board, then simmer sauce, whisking occasionally and skimming any fat that rises, until jelly is melted, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Remove all foil from roast and carve into chops by cutting between ribs.

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