(Photo provided)

To me, nothing says the holiday like a classic crown pork roast.

It is called a crown because it is two rib racks (usually 12 ribs from one pork loin) that are bent into a circle and then tied together with kitchen twine, so it looks like a royal crown. The meatiest portion of the ribs forms the bottom of the crown and faces inward.

As with many meats, cooking with the bones in adds to the flavor and the moistness of the meat. A crown roast comes from the rib portion of the loin – perhaps the tastiest of all cuts.

I start with this basic recipe and then dress it up. You can stuff the center with your favorite stuffing or, my favorite, top it with a beautiful cranberry chutney. I’ve adapted this cranberry chutney recipe to be so versatile, you can use it on a pork roast, turkey, chicken, pancakes or even on top of ice cream or yogurt. For an appetizer, add chutney to cream cheese-dolloped crackers or as condiment on sandwiches.

To make it a full meal, I whip up a quick sweet potato praline and serve it in orange cups for a beautiful holiday plate.

This statement dish will impress all guests when served as the star of your holiday parties.

Crown Pork Roast

8 pounds pork crown roast (14 to 16 ribs)

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil-extra virgin

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 teaspoons dried thyme (opt)

1˝ teaspoons salt freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Rub the pork roast with a light coat of oil and season to taste with salt, pepper, minced garlic and thyme, if desired. Cover the tops of the bones with foil to prevent browning. Place the roast on a rack in a shallow roasting pan, bone end up. Roast uncovered for 2 to 3 hours or until meat thermometer registers 160 degrees F.

Remove the roast from the oven and cover with foil. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Remove the foil at the tips of the ribs and cut between the bones for individual serving sizes. Top with cranberry chutney.

Cranberry Chutney

2 cups whole cranberries

1 1/3 cup raw sugar

1/2 cup dried, chopped figs

1/2 cup dried cherries, strawberries, cranberries, and/or blueberries

1/2 cup of chopped mandrin oranges

5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon water

2 tablespoons chopped red onion

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon fresh-grated ginger root

Bring all ingredients to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium and cook 18 minutes or until thickened. Let cool before serving.

Sweet Potato Praline in an Orange Cup

5 pounds sweet potatoes

1/2 cup orange juice – you can juice the orange you are using for the cups.

1˝ teaspoon orange zest

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1˝ teaspoon baking powder

2˝ teaspoon vanilla extract


2 cup (about 8 ounces) chopped pecans

1 cup light brown sugar

4 oranges, cut in half to create bowls and the flesh removed (can be frozen for smoothies)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using a fork, prick sweet-potatoes all over and roast on a baking pan until soft, about 1 hour. Let cool, then peel and discard skins. Place sweet potato flesh in a large bowl and mash until smooth. Add orange juice and zest. Stir in granulated sugar, eggs, 2 tablespoons of butter, baking powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla and 1 teaspoon of salt until combined. Spoon the sweet-potato mixture into orange bowls.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine pecans, brown sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt and remaining butter and vanilla and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes more, then pour over oranges. Bake until bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes.

• Chef Debi Stuckwisch is the owner of Meals Like Mom’s Personal Chef service in McHenry County. Remember Meals Like Mom’s when planning your holiday meals and parties at home or at the office, or give the gift of a personal chef this Christmas with Meals Like Mom’s gift certificates. She can be reached at 847-778-9351 or mealslikemoms@comcast.net, or visit www.mealslikemom.com.