Event 9 - Crown Rack of Pork

by Dave MichelMarch 8, 2015

The Royal Feast was to be the "event to end all events" concerning my sabbatical, so I originally designed this menu with an exclamation point. Alton Brown said that you use a Crown Rack for its "shock and awe" value. My shock and awe moment was the day before the event, when I went to Clancey's Meats (highly recommended) to pick up the two pork racks I had ordered a month earlier, and found out that it was an awe-inspiring 15 lbs. of meat (at almost $14/lb, there was a considerable amount of shock, too).

After a bit of wondering what I was going to do with all that meat (I really wanted to do a Crown Rack, which requires two racks, so I didn't look at having just one rack as an option), Kris and I decided to expand the number of seats to 12 guests. The automated emails went out the evening before the event:

Dear FirstName,

Due to the incredible girth and generosity of Mr. Pig, I am adding five more seats to the Saturday, March 7 Crown Rack event (TOMORROW!) Yes, this is the Royal Feast, and you're invited (though I don't think there will be any real royalty in attendance).

In the fashion to which I have become accustomed, there was a small flurry of activity and all the spots were filled within a couple of hours. I went to bed knowing that we'd have a full house, and also that I hadn't done any of these recipes or even looked seriously at the racks. They were already Frenched (meat removed around the bone) with chine bone removed, and individually tied by Clancey's, but not put into a crown. I had wanted to do that part on my own.

I was up the next morning at 6:30 to start on Cherry Turnovers and smoking the salmon I had been curing overnight, as well as tying the crown and seasoning it so it could rest for the day. But I couldn't bend either rack past 90 degrees - no way could I fashion them into a circle. Clancey's doesn't open until 10 AM, so (panicking slightly) I searched for info on the Web that might give me a clue on what I needed to do.

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Not surprisingly, there are a lot of postings and videos on how to do a crown rack of pork. Some of the butcher-oriented ones looked really good, but my cuts of pork looked much more substantial (and stiffer) than any of the videos I found. After about 45 minutes of anxiety, I found this video by the Black Belt Butcher, which showed how to make a crown with a single rack by slicing partially through each chop part of the loin. He also demonstrated how to remove the remnants of bone that would be a nuisance to eat around. Armed with this information, I started on making the crown.

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After tying the ends together and then binding the circumference of the crown a couple of times, I seasoned with thyme, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. The great thing about this recipe is that the potatoes and shallots cook with the pork, and a most delicious sauce is made from the pan drippings and the apples baked with the vegetables. No additional seasonings required!

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Inverting the crown during the high-temperature (475 degrees) phase of cooking keeps the exposed bones from burning and infused the meat with a beautiful succulence and seasoning from the fat cap at the bottom of the crown.

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Just about ready to put the roast in the oven. To the right are the cherry turnovers, which were served with vanilla bean ice cream and the reserved cherry reduction. I reheated the turnovers immediately before serving. Potatoes and shallots were in the roasting pan, along with the apples used for the sauce.

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Halfway through cooking, I added apple cider to the vegetables and put the crown right-side-up to finish at 300 degrees. The bottom of the crown already had a lovely crispy texture - all we needed to do is get the top browned and the inner temperature to 140 degrees.

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Presenting the crown. Asparagus came out of the oven about two minutes later. The asparagus was crusted with parmesan and panko crumbs. Though delicious, the recipe was tweaky and required a whole lot of prep, so I probably won't use it again (at least for a large crowd).

It was a fun group of almost all Bethlehem guests, with Nancy bringing a neighbor who had been in the wine business for many years. Soren and Anna also supped. Happily, just one rib left over.

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Comments (2) -

Jean
JeanUnited States
3/8/2015 4:53:49 PM #

Amazing--I continue to be in awe of your cooking skills, Dave!

sylvie
sylvieFrance
3/18/2015 2:00:37 PM #

It's just a work of art, never seen such amazing recipe in my whole life. I won't forget to try it out next time I have guests at home, I'll be so proud to impress them with this incredible recipe!

About the author

Dave

Dave is a recording engineer, musician and software developer in Minneapolis. He's found that a cooking sabbatical is more work than normal life.

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