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.