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Julie Van Rosendaal with turkey alternatives

Julie Van Rosendaal offers a pork alternative to the traditional holiday turkey.

Straight-up Crown Roast of Pork

This is the recipe I made this morning for the Eyeopener - simple, classic, delicious!

1 10 bone crown roast of pork (5-6 lb./2 ½-3 kg)
a few sprigs of thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 300˚F. 

Put the pork in a roasting pan or large cast iron skillet. Pull the leaves off a few sprigs of thyme and sprinkle over the roast; scatter a few around the pork too. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast for 2 hours, then turn up the heat to 400˚F for about 15 minutes. The internal temperature should read 145˚F - make sure you stick the meat thermometer into a thick part of the middle, without touching a bone.

Let stand for 15-20 minutes, tented with foil, before carving. The pan drippings can be used to make gravy.

Serves 10.

Crown Roast of Pork with Rosemary Stuffing & Roasted Pears

With stuffing, pears and cranberries, this crown roast is gussied up for the holidays.

1 5-6 lb. crown roast of pork (about 10-12 bones, or more)
4 Bosc pears, quartered lengthwise
½-1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
canola or olive oil, for cooking
salt and pepper

¼ cup canola or olive oil
¼ cup butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, with leaves, chopped
1 small tart apple or pear, chopped (optional)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 small round crusty loaf
1 cup chicken or onion stock

If the butcher hasn't already done so, separate the bones by cutting between them with a sharp knife; if you like, French the bone by carefully scraping off any bits of meat with a knife.

Place the pork in a roasting pan or large cast iron pan and drizzle with oil; rub the oil all over the meat and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange the pears and cranberries in the pan around the pork. Drizzle with a little oil.

To make the stuffing, heat the oil and butter in a large, heavy skillet and when the foam subsides add the onion and celery and cook for 4-5 minutes, until soft. Add the apple or pear and rosemary and cook for another minute. Cut or tear the bread into a large bowl and add the onion mixture. Pour the stock overtop and toss with your hands to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Mound the stuffing in the middle of the crown roast, and whatever doesn't fit into a small baking dish. 

Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Roast the pork for 2-2 ½ hours, covering the stuffing and bones with foil if they are browning too quickly, until it reaches an internal temperature of 155°F. (Insert your thermometer into the meatiest part of the roast, ensuring it doesn't touch the bone, which conducts heat more efficiently than the meat.) The extra dish of stuffing can be roasted alongside the pork, but will only need about an hour.

Tent the roast with foil and let rest for 20 minutes before carving by cutting between each bone into a thick chop. Serve with roasted pears and stuffing. 

Serves 10.

Portobello Wellington 

This recipe is very lax - make as many as you like by sautéing the chopped mushroom stems with onions, garlic, peppers, kale... or whatever you like or have in your fridge. A bit of torn bread soaks up excess moisture and makes it taste a little like stuffing. Experiment with different types of cheese, too.

4 portobello mushrooms
olive oil, for cooking
1-2 Tbsp. butter
1 small onion, finely chopped (or a chunk of purple onion)
½ red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
pinch chopped fresh rosemary
pinch fresh thyme
1 leaf kale, coarsely chopped (discard the rib)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 slice day old crusty bread, torn into small pieces (optional)
1 pkg. puff pastry, thawed
grated aged cheddar, Gouda or Asiago, crumbled blue cheese or a chunk of Brie
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 300˚F. Pull the stems out of the mushrooms and scrape out the gills with a spoon. Put the caps stem side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush with oil; roast for 10-15 minutes, until some of the excess moisture is released. Remove them from the oven and turn the temperature up to 400˚F.

Meanwhile, heat another drizzle of oil with the butter in a medium skillet set over medium-high heat and sauté the onion for 3-4 minutes, until soft. Chop and add the mushroom stems along with the peppers, garlic, rosemary and thyme. Cook for a few minutes, until soft. Add the kale, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the kale wilts and any excess moisture has cooked off. Transfer to a bowl with the bread (if you're using it) and toss to combine.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out to a large square and cut into quarters - each piece should be about an inch bigger around than the mushrooms. 

Pile some stuffing onto each mushroom and grate (or slice, or crumble) some cheese generously overtop. Place a piece of pastry over the stuffing and lift the mushroom up, wrapping the mushroom and tucking the pastry underneath. Place tucked-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mushrooms.

Brush each pastry with some beaten egg and cut a couple slits in the top to help steam escape. Bake for 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden.

Serves 4.

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