Holiday Roasts — So Many Possibilities

Holiday Roasts —Prime RibWhile it is possible to get any kind of meat you desire year round, there are certain cuts of meat that seem to be relegated to holidays whether because of price, presentation, or the number of people they serve. Some cuts are family traditions (Christmas wouldn’t be the same without Grandma’s Ham). While others offer different ways to make the holidays that much more special and festive. Below are a few examples of what we consider to be holiday roasts to help you decide what will be on your table this year.

Prime Rib
Of all the roasts for the holidays, Prime rib is probably the most popular because you can feed a crowd. And it’s just not something one generally would prepare on a given weeknight. Plus, it’s just so darn tasty.

For complete instructions on how to prepare a Prime Rib see our Butcher’s Block post, Prime Rib for the Holidays.

Beef Tenderloin
For those wanting beef flavor but in a milder, more tender package, tenderloin is for you. And, with no bones, it’s roast, slice and serve. Really easy after a day of ripping and tearing. The only thing you need to be concerned about is overcooking since it is a lean cut of meat.

For a good step-by-step guide see this article.

Leg of Pork or Fresh Ham
A leg of pork is basically a ham that hasn’t been smoked or cured. It is a BIG piece of meat which makes it perfect for a holiday feast. And, is a favorite of some on our staff…

Check out our recipe for Roasted Fresh Ham with Citrus and Rye from our blog, The Kitchen Table.

Rack of Lamb and Leg of Lamb
Because lamb can be pricey, both the Leg of Lamb and Rack of Lamb are popular choices for special occasions.

We have our favorite preparations for both in earlier posts on The Butcher’s Block. Learn how to prepare a rack of lamb here.  And how to roast a leg of lamb here.

You can’t leave out the turkey. For some turkey is not just for Thanksgiving it is also for Christmas dinner.

Check out all our tricks and tips for preparing the best turkey in Preparing Your Turkey: a Thanksgiving Survival Guide.

Crown Roast of Pork
A Crown Roast of Pork has been a holiday staple for generations, though it’s popularity has waned in recent years. There is no doubt that it provides a dramatic presentation when brought to the table. A crown roast is made by forming a regular bone-in pork loin into a circle, with the ribs pointed upward.

To do this with a single rack (about 10 ribs), you need to cut into the spaces between the ribs so that they can spread out a bit to form the circle. However, by doing this, you end up creating more surface area of the pork, which can cause it to dry out more when roasting. For this reason, It is better to buy a crown roast formed by two bone-in loins, attached end to end, making them large enough to form a circle without any additional cutting.

While you can purchase two loins and tie them together yourself, it is much easier to order one from your butcher. Aim to have about a rib and a half per person, or two per person if you want leftovers.

Holiday Pork Crown Roast
Adapted from Tyler Florence and the Food Network
Yields 12 servings

1/2 bunch thyme, leaves only
1/2 bunch fresh sage, leaves only
2 cloves garlic, gently smashed and paper removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
10 pounds pork rib roast (about 12 to 14 ribs) prepared by our butchers
(Apple Stuffing and Gravy recipes are below.)

For the Apple Stuffing
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for finishing
1/2 bunch fresh sage
1/2 bunch fresh thyme
1 large onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups raw pecans
2 eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
5 cups crusty bread (crusts removed), hand-torn into 1-inch pieces
1/4 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

For the Gravy
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
1 large onion, roughly chopped
3 ribs celery, roughly chopped
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup apple juice concentrate
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock

Make the Apple Stuffing
Set a large sauté pan over medium heat and add olive oil, sage and thyme sprigs. As the oil heats up the herbs will crackle and fry, infusing the oil. Remove the sage and thyme and set aside on a paper towel to drain—these can later be as a garnish. Add onions to the pan and cook over medium-low heat for 15 to 25 minutes until caramelized. Season with salt and pepper. Remove onions from pan and add apples. Crush the pecans and add to the pan. Add more oil, if needed and season with salt and pepper. Gently sauté until pecans are lightly toasted and apples are just cooked slightly (about 3 to 5 minutes).

In a large mixing bowl whisk together egg, cream, chicken stock, and salt and pepper, to taste. Add torn bread, caramelized onions, apples, pecans and chopped parsley. Using a wooden spoon, mix the stuffing until well combined.

Prepare the Roast
Preheat oven to 375º F. Set a rack on the bottom third of the oven leaving enough room for the roast to fit in the oven.

In a mortar, combine thyme, sage, garlic, and salt and pepper, to taste, and mash with a pestle to break up the herbs and garlic. Add about 1 cup of the olive oil, and combine.

Take crown roast and Rub it all over with the herb mixture. With the ribs on the outside, wrap the rack around onto itself so the ends meet and secure with kitchen twine so it holds its crown shape. A second set of hands can come in helpful here. But, if you are doing this by yourself, using a skewer to help hold the shape while you wrap the kitchen twine around the roast.

Place the rack in a roasting pan. Add any scraps into the bottom of the pan alongside the roast. This will help add flavor to your sauce. Set aside to bring the pork to room temperature prior to cooking.

Fill the cavity with Apple Stuffing.

Cover the stuffing and the tips of the rib bones with foil then place the whole roast in the oven and bake for 2 hours and 20 minutes, an instant-read thermometer inserted near the bone should register 150º F when done.

About 30 to 45 minutes prior to doneness, remove the foil to brown the stuffing and create a crust.

When finished, remove the roast from the oven, loosely cover it with foil, and allow it to rest for 30 minutes before cutting. Serve with Apple Pecan Stuffing and Gravy.

Make the Gravy
Place carrots, onion, celery, apple and garlic in a food processor and pulse until you have a coarsely textured puree.

Once roasting pan comes out of the oven (and meat is removed) set it over medium-high heat on the stove. Add a 2-count of olive oil then add vegetable puree. Sauté for 7 to 8 minutes until most of the moisture has cooked off, then dust with flour. Cook for 2 more minutes stirring well to incorporate all the flour with the fat in the pan. Add the apple liqueur and scrape the bottom of the pan. Gradually add chicken stock, stirring as you go to ensure there are no lumps. Bring to a simmer and season well with salt and pepper. Simmer then remove from heat and strain through a sieve. It is fine if some of the pulp goes through as this will naturally add body to the gravy.

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