When I visit my in-laws for the holidays, I have an urge to make The Big Classics. I think it is because we didn’t necessarily have the big classics at home growing up, and I want to know how to make them. And since my in-laws like to eat, but don’t like to cook, and I like to cook, it gives us all an opportunity, and me a bit of a stage. After all, if Christmas isn’t a special enough occasion, when will we have one? Most of us are unlikely to host the Queen of England or the President of the United States, or any other foreign dignitaries, for that matter, in our homes.
We went to central Illinois for Christmas, and we brought a crown roast with us from Minnesota. I ordered it from my local meat shop on the day I brought my favorite butcher a present. DH picked up the roast the day before we left for Illinois, and we put it on ice.
On the day of the Big Dinner (actually the day after Christmas), I got the meat out of the cooler, and started to prep.
I wish I had a before picture, to show what the roast looked like when I started in on it. The first thing to do, to make it a showpiece, was to clean the bones of any remaining tissue above the chop part of the crown, a.k.a Frenching the bones. I think that there must not be many apprentice butchers to give this work to, or not enough demand for Frenching of bones these days for meat shops to do it, as it is a lot of work. I learned after a bone or two that there is a method to it, but I still spent half an hour at it. My audience might not have cared that I took the time to do this, but I wanted to prove I could. And again, why not?
The next step was making a rub for the meat. I don’t remember exact proportions now, as I was doing this on the fly, but the ingredient list included dried sage, fennel seeds, salt, pepper, and some juniper berries. I rubbed this on the meat inside the crown, and at the base of the crown, below the bones.
After that, DH and I spent the time to make little frilly paper hats for the bones, for when we served the roast. Again, why not? The beauty of this recipe, after the Frenching, is that the oven does all the work, leaving time to do such things as make frilly paper hats.
Here’s what it looked like when I served it.
It was well worth the effort. Delicious. Enough for more than two meals for six people. And we got a giggle out of the paper hats. I think I’ll take this picture to show the butcher. He’ll get a kick out of it.