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Something Different For Christmas Dinner

If you're looking for something fresh and different for Christmas dinner, look no further.

On The Early Show Monday, cookbook author and cooking teacher Tori Ritchie suggested a break from the typical turkey, ham or roast beef.

As an impressive centerpiece for your Christmas Day feast, Ritchie recommends a Crown Roast of Pork with Calvados Gravy, Broccolini and Garlic, Apple-Pecan Dressing, Root-Vegetable Gratin with Gruyere, and a store-bought chocolate cake for dessert!

Ritchie was in the flagship store in Manhattan of specialty home furnishings retailer and Early Show partner Williams-Sonoma.

She explained that a crown roast pork is a dramatic alternative to standard Christmas dinner fare. A butcher or specialty food purveyor prepares the roast for you by essentially tying two racks of ribs together. The roast has 24 ribs, so the amount of people it serves depends on how hungry a crowd you're hosting! The roast typically weighs about 14 pounds; if you want to prepare something smaller, Ritchie recommends a bone-in pork loin.

Another bonus to the pork: It cooks much more quickly than a turkey. It takes about an hour to an hour-and-a-half. You want to be sure not to overcook it.

The pork is served with a gravy prepared with Calvados, which is an apple brandy from France.

The winter root vegetable gratin is a fun alternative to potato gratin. The dish calls for celery root, sweet potatoes and parsnips


Crown Roast of Pork with Calvados

Ask your butcher to tie the roast into a circle. Just before cooking, place a ball of foil in the center of the roast to help it hold its shape. The foil also distributes the heat as the meat roasts, promoting faster cooking. Serve the roast with our apple-pecan dressing, broccolini with garlic and root vegetable gratin with Gruyère.

1 crown roast of pork with 24 ribs, 14 to 16 lb.
3 Tbs. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
1 1/2 Tbs. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
4 Golden Delicious apples, cored and quartered (optional)
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely diced shallots
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 cup Calvados (apple brandy) or regular brandy
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbs. veal demi-glace
2 Tbs. heavy cream

Season the roast on all sides with the 3 Tbs. salt and the 1 1/2 Tbs. pepper. Place the roast in a large roasting pan and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Place a large ball of aluminum foil in the center of the roast, adjusting the roast to form a circle. Place the apples around the roast. Transfer to the oven and roast for 1 hour, basting the meat with the pan juices every 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat, away from the bone, registers 140°F for medium, 15 to 30 minutes more.

Transfer the roast to a carving board, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving.

Meanwhile, transfer the apples to a platter. Pour the pan drippings into a bowl, skim off the fat and reserve the juices. Set the roasting pan over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the shallots and thyme and cook until the shallots are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the apple brandy and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Add the reserved juices, the broth and demi-glace and stir until the demi-glace is dissolved. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce is slightly reduced, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in the cream and season with salt and pepper. Strain the sauce into a sauceboat.

Carve the roast between the bones and arrange on the platter alongside the apples. Pour some of the sauce over the meat and pass the rest at the table.

Serves 24.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

Broccolini with Garlic

A cross between broccoli and Chinese kale, broccolini has a sweeter flavor than ordinary broccoli. Serve this dish alongside our crown roast of pork.

Salt, to taste
5 bunches broccolini, ends trimmed
3 Tbs. olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the broccolini and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the broccolini to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and pat dry.

In a large copper gratin pan or large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until almost smoking. Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic and cook until just lightly browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to a plate.

Increase the heat to high, add the broccolini to the pan in batches and sauté until tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Season with salt. Return all the broccolini to the pan and top with the garlic slices. Serve immediately.

Serves 12 to 15.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

For more recipes, go to Page 2.

Apple-Pecan Dressing

Sautéed apples lend a note of sweetness to this dressing, while toasted pecans add a pleasing crunch. The dressing is the perfect side dish for our crown roast of pork.

1-lb. loaf sweet batard, torn into 1/2-inch pieces
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 yellow onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 celery stalks, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 Tbs. sugar
1 cup apple juice
1 cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
2 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
1 Tbs. chopped fresh sage
2 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
2 1/2 cups chicken stock, warmed

Spread the bread out on a baking sheet and let dry overnight. Transfer to a large bowl.

Preheat an oven to 375°F. Butter a deep casserole or baking dish.

In a large fry pan over medium heat, melt 4 Tbs. of the butter. Add the onions and celery and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the bread.

Melt the remaining 4 Tbs. butter in the pan and add the apples. Sprinkle with the sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender and beginning to brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add 3 Tbs. of the apple juice and simmer, stirring to scrape up the browned bits, until the liquid is reduced to a syrup, about 4 minutes. Transfer the apples to the bowl with the bread.

Pour the remaining apple juice into the pan, set over medium heat and simmer until reduced by one-third. Pour the apple juice over the bread mixture. Add the pecans, thyme, sage, the 2 1/2 tsp. salt, the 1 tsp. pepper and 2 cups of the stock to the bowl and stir gently to mix. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until the stock is absorbed, about 5 minutes. If the dressing seems dry, add more stock as needed. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

Transfer the dressing to the prepared baking dish and bake until browned and crispy, about 50 minutes.

Serves 10 to 12.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

Root Vegetable Gratin with Gruyere

Enriched with cream and Gruyère cheese, this hearty gratin is a delicious accompaniment to our crown roast of pork. A mandoline makes fast work of cutting the vegetables into thin, uniform slices.

1 Tbs. unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 lb. parsnips, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 lb. celery root, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
8 oz. Gruyère cheese, shredded
1 Tbs. minced fresh thyme
3 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat an oven to 400°F. Butter a 3-quart baking dish.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg and heat just until bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes.

Arrange a layer of parsnips, slightly overlapping, in the prepared dish. Arrange a layer of sweet potatoes on top, then a layer of celery root. Pour half of the cream mixture over the celery root, and sprinkle half of the cheese, thyme and parsley on top. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil, place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and lightly press the gratin down with a spatula. Continue baking until the vegetables are tender and the top is golden brown, 15 to 30 minutes more. Let the gratin stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 12 to 15.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

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