A big holiday like this requires a big presentation. Last year, I made a whole beef tenderloin. This year I did a crown roast of pork. Too big really for our party of eight, but I do have some big eaters, and one of my sons and one guest had four chops each! And then the leftovers were divine. I think I’ve already mentioned that I really enjoy and truly taste the nuances of a huge meal like this the next day, as leftovers. The busyness of working to get it all right, the timing and making sure each guest is happy, preoccupies me during the main meal. However, even I could tell, this was darn good!! Impressive and beautiful to boot!
But truly, the best part about a big celebration like this is that my whole family pitches in and we work together to pull it off. They helped to set up the bar area, chop herbs and clean vegetables and yes, even helped with the clean up in a major way. Our last guests left a little after midnight. Then all four of us worked to clean up and then we stayed up talking until 3 am! For my husband and me, spending time like this with our boys is the most precious of all.
One of our guests at our Passover celebration evened remarked about how well we all worked together as a family, to get the dinner on the table and make our guests feel comfortable. I feel proud that our boys have learned to entertain and that they enjoy sharing their love of good food. Serving and sharing love and food makes everyone happy – what could be better?
Here’s my whole menu:
– Straight up martinis with great olives for many of us at cocktail hour
– Homemade cheddar cheese straws – finally I found a stellar recipe for these from The New York Times – make ahead and they will keep for a while – recipe to come
– Texas smoked salmon tartare on blue corn chips
– Warm artichoke dip with red pepper, celery, fennel strips and crostini crackers
– Bowls of mixed olives, toasted corn nuts and lightly salted cashews
– Roasted butternut squash soup with bourbon, served with homemade Polish bread
– Crown roast of pork with fennel, sage, garlic and lemon
– Italian beans – the best – recipe to come!
– Sautéed apples in a little butter with cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of lemon
– Roasted asparagus with olive oil and lemon zest
– Homemade Christmas cookies – all recipes are here on the blog plus special bakery cookies
– Fantastic coffee from our older son
I’m noticing here that it might seem as though I had a lot of lemon going on, but the meal did not taste that way at all. Everything worked together beautifully and was delicious!!
CROWN ROAST OF PORK WITH FENNEL, LEMON AND GARLIC – adapted from Melissa Clark and The New York Times
– serves 12 – 16
2 heaping tsp. fennel seeds
Rosemary leaves from 4 – 5 bushy sprigs
7 – 8 large cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup fresh sage leaves and tender sprigs
Lemon peel strips from 1 lemon – thinly peel the lemon with a vegetable peeler
2 tsp. fennel pollen (optional)
1 heaping tbs. plus 1 pinch coarse kosher salt
1 heaping tsp. cracked black pepper
7 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 crown roast of pork (18 ribs)
4 large onions, peeled and sliced into ¼” slices
In small skillet, toast fennel seeds until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
Place toasted fennel seeds, rosemary, garlic, sage, lemon peel, fennel pollen (if using) and all of the salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse processor to chop everything up, then add olive oil slowly, and blend until the mixture becomes a paste, scraping down sides occasionally with a rubber spatula.
Wipe pork very dry with paper towels, then smear the herb paste all over the meat, making sure to coat the middle and the crevices on the sides of the chops.
Wrap in plastic wrap and let marinate for 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Bring the meat to room temperature for at least 1.5 hours before roasting.
Heat oven to 450 degrees.
Put a thin film of olive oil in the bottom of your roasting pan and spread it around with your fingers. Place onion slices down to form a rack for your roast. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top of the onions and salt and pepper them. Place your roast on top and roast for 20 minutes at 450 degrees, then turn heat down to 350 and continue roasting until meat registers 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours longer. Let rest 20 minutes before carving.
Starting at eight o’clock we enjoyed Cognac sugarplums, pecan crisps, Hello Dolly squares, cut-out sugar cookies, date bars and special bakery cookies that a guest brought. With a great cup of joe, this is a very nice way to end a big meal.