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Food
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Kitchen Mailbox: Crown roast makes for an impressive holiday presentation

Thursday, April 12, 2001

By Arlene Burnett, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

If you haven't bought the Easter ham yet, check out today's recipe -- pork crown roast. Crown roasts are the uncut rib section of pork. The roast is formed by tying the roast in a circle with the ribs up -- the ribs fan outwards making the roast look like a crown. Pork crown roast can be formed at home but we wouldn't recommend it. It takes time and skill (the ribs have to be bent, shaped and trimmed). We asked someone with experience to do this for us -- the butcher. Most butchers require at least two days' notice.

 
 
Cooking term
of the week

Simmer -- To cook food in liquid at a temperature of about 185 degrees. The liquid should form tiny bubbles that just begin to break the surface.

   
 

We ordered a 10-pound roast (15 ribs, each rib 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick), plenty for seven to 10 people.

Pork crown roast makes a grand presentation, especially when the tips of the ribs are decorated with frilly paper (the papers came with our roast) or, as in our recipe today, cherry tomatoes.

Crown roast is perfect for a big get-together and costs about $3.99 a pound.

The pork crown roast recipe turned out sweet and crispy on the outside (because of the honey-apricot glaze), juicy and tender on the inside, and the gravy made from this roast was excellent. To make the roast, you'll need a meat thermometer and foil to cover the rib tips while roasting.

To accompany the roast, we made apple-prune stuffing, which tasted a lot like apple crisp but without the cinnamon. We liked the addition of prunes, too.

We had one small problem. The recipe calls for making the apple-prune stuffing in a separate bowl and placing it in the oven with the roast for the last 45 minutes of baking. We couldn't fit both in the oven at the same time. Here's how we solved the problem: About one hour before the roast was finished cooking, we prepared the stuffing and set it aside. When we removed the roast from the oven we nuked the stuffing for about 5 minutes, then slipped it into the oven. While the stuffing was baking, we made the gravy.

We served our roast with mashed potatoes and corn, but candied sweet potatoes and asparagus work well, too.

Gina M. Godfrey of Greenfield requested a recipe for pork crown roast. Here's an excerpt from her e-mail: "My family is coming from out of town for Easter and I would like to make a pork crown roast. Aside from the basic roasting instructions, I was hoping you or your readers could provide suggestions for simple accompaniments such as garnishes or side dishes."

Eva Ward of Wilmerding answered the request with this recipe.

Pork Crown Roast With Apple-Prune Stuffing

About a 10-pound pork crown roast
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon rosemary, crushed (preferably fresh)
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, chopped (optional)
3 tablespoons apricot preserves
1 tablespoon honey
Cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons flour
Apple-prune stuffing (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place roast on rack of roasting pan. Season with salt, pepper, rosemary and garlic. Cover rib ends with small pieces of foil while roasting (we added about 1/2 cup of water to the pan). Roast until meat thermometer registers 170 degrees (about 4 hours). About 30 minutes before end of roasting time, mix apricot preserves and honey and brush on ribs. Complete roasting. Meanwhile, cut cherry tomatoes at stem end and remove some of the juice. Remove the roast and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Place on a cutting board and let rest for about 15 minutes while preparing the gravy and the stuffing.

Gravy:
Pour off fat from roasting pan and measure 3 tablespoons into saucepan. Blend in flour. Add 2 cups water and brown bits scraped from roasting pan. Cook, stirring, until thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Fill center of roast with stuffing. Remove foil from ends of bones and slip a tomato over each.
Note: A 14-rib crown roast will take about 4 hours.

Apple Prune Stuffing:
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 quart (4 cups) small soft- bread cubes (see note)
1 cup pitted prunes
6 cooking apples, peeled and cut in eighths (we used Granny Smith)
Juice of 1 lemon (if using sweet apples)

Melt butter, stir in poultry seasoning and salt, then mix with bread cubes. Pour hot water over prunes, let stand about 10 minutes; cut in halves. Put apples and prunes in shallow 2-quart baking dish (if you're using the lemon juice, pour it over the apples and prunes now). Top with bread cubes mixture. Cover and bake for about 45 minutes or until apples and prunes are tender. Uncover and bake a few minutes longer, or until bread is crisp. Makes 8 servings.

Note: We made our own bread cubes using fresh white sliced bread.

Request

Regina Ambrose of O'Hara wonders if anyone has the recipe for the meatballs served at Del's Restaurant, Bloomfield.

Letter

I'm writing from a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. Our local newspaper has a food section where readers can write in to request recipes for things they can't find or remember from local restaurants. I decided to check the PG to see if you have the same, and I'm thrilled to see that you do.

Many years ago when my parents would take us to Pittsburgh we'd go to a wonderful pizza place. It was called Pinchera's and was on Route 51 between Brentwood and Pleasant Hills. They had the greatest pizza, and I've never tasted anything like it since. I don't think the restaurant is open anymore [it isn't]. Do you think someone from the Pinchera family would give up the recipe for the dough and sauce, or might one of your readers already have it?

Tacey Kastely of Carroll, Ohio


If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number on all correspondence. All recipes are kitchen-tested by the Post-Gazette.



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