On my Acadiana table, there is no more dramatic presentation than a crown roast of pork in all its regal glory. This cut of meat always wows your guests for several reasons. Beyond the center-of-the-table showcase for the roast, the meat surrounding the bone is always juicy and flavorful. And the thickness of the chops always delivers moist pork.
A crown roast cut of pork is simply a pork loin with the bones left intact. Instead of cutting them into individual pork chops, the butcher slices just enough into the meat to curve the loin into a circle. With the hard work done and the meat prepped ahead, it’s quite easy to brine, marinate, season, and cook this spectacular pork roast.
Call ahead and order from a butcher that understands this cut. Ask for an 8 to 10-pound crown roast, trimmed into thick double-cut-size chops with the ends of the bones frenched – slicing the meat and skin from the top portion of each bone. The entire roast should be tightly tied at the center into a round “crown” shape. Some butchers in Cajun country will stuff the center with sausage for an extra charge, but I never go with that option.
I love the rustic simplicity (and flavor) of Cajun rice dressing. This “dirty” rice is chock full of seasonings and other tasty bits that make it one of the most popular side dishes in Cajun country. There are numerous commercial blends of dressing mix on the market that can be bought online, but I like to make my own, and you can get the recipe here. In this variation, I like adding the sweetness of apple with the flavor of zucchini that contrasts with the spiciness of the dressing mix.
To treat your family and friends like royalty, serve them this crown roast on your Acadiana table.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 1 cup diced green bell pepper
- 3 cups raw pork sausage
- 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 large zucchini squash, peeled and chopped
- 2 apples, cored and chopped
- 2 cups (16 ounces) store-bought rice dressing mix or homemade (get the recipe here)
- 6 cups cooked long-grain white rice, such as Supreme
- 2 quarts (64-ounces) apple juice
- 1 cup salt
- 1 cup sugarcane molasses, such as Steen’s
- 1 (8.5-pound) crown roast of pork, tied with bones frenched
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 carrots
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 1 ½ cups (about 12) whole fresh cherries
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a large pot with a lid over medium-high heat, add the oil. Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper, and sauté until the onion turns translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage and cook until it begins to brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in the seasoning and 1 cup of chicken stock.
- Add the zucchini, apples, and dressing mix. Stir to incorporate and lower the heat to simmer. Let cook for 10 minutes and turn off the heat.
- Add the cooked rice. If needed, add additional stock to achieve a moist (not soupy) dressing texture. Cover and keep warm until serving.
- For the brine, in a large stock pot that will fit your crown roast, add the apple juice and salt. Bring to a boil and dissolve the salt. Add the molasses, stir to dissolve, and turn off the heat. Add cold water to double the volume of the juice and let cool.
- Add the crown roast to the mixture along with a few handfuls of ice to cool. Place in the refrigerator overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Remove the crown roast and dry with paper towels. With a sharp paring knife remove any extra fat and peel back any remaining skin or meat from the top 2 inches of each bone. (Note: If your roast is not tied already, surround the roast with kitchen twine and tie tightly to keep the meat in a circle.)
- For the marinade, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the garlic powder, onion powder, and white pepper. Once the seasonings have dissolved, turn off the heat.
- Using a meat injector, fill with the butter marinade and inject into the thickest part of the meat several times. Continue until all the marinade is used and the meat is fully injected. Lightly sprinkle the roast with the Cajun seasoning.
- In a large roasting pan fitted with a wire rack, add the chicken stock along with the carrots, onion, rosemary, and cherries. Place the roast on the rack and move into the middle rack of the oven uncovered. Reduce the temperature to 325ºF and cook for 1 hour.
- Check the roast to see that it is cooking evenly and that the top is not browning too quickly. If it is, place aluminum foil over the top of the roast and place back in the oven for 1 hour longer.
- After 2 hours, the roast should be nearing doneness, so take a temperature reading to check by placing the thermometer in the thickest part of the roast. The ideal internal temperature for moist roast pork is 145ºF, so cover the roast with aluminum foil and continue cooking until you reach that temperature. Once your roast is done, remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes.
- For the pan gravy and cherry sauce, remove the cooked cherries from the roasting pan and strain the juices into a saucepan.
- Mix the cornstarch with cold water and stir to make a slurry. Bring the juices to a boil and stir in the cornstarch slurry to thicken. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened to a gravy consistency, about 3 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Add the cherries to a cutting board and remove the seeds and stems. Rough chop the cherries and add to a small condiment bowl.
- For serving, add the roast to a platter and remove the string. Slice the chops into individual servings, but retain the shape of the roast. Serve the dressing on the side or optionally spoon some of the dressing into the center of the roast. Present the roast at the center of the table and serve with pan gravy and chopped cherries.
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