"A crown roast of pork is like a bouquet of flowers on a table," says Jack Ubaldi, butcher by trade and co-author (with Elizabeth Crossman) of Jack Ubaldi's Meat Book: A Butcher's Guide to Buying, Cutting, and Cooking Meat (Collier Books, 1991). "It's the centerpiece at a special occassion that will have guests saying 'Oooh, ahhh' when they see it," he says. Mentioned in Fannie Farmer's original 1896 cookbook, The Boston Cooking School Cookbook, this British-born culinary showstopper—a long rack of pork ribs formed into a circle and tied into crown shape—used to be a popular party dish. "But," Ubaldi says sadly, "the art of butchering is dying, and not many people know how or are willing to take the time to make it anymore.
"For a successful crown roast," he continues, "choose center cuts of loin of pork that aren't too heavy. If they're too meaty, there won't be enough space on the inside of the crown for them to cook evenly and get a crusty coat." For the same reason, Ubaldi cooks his stuffing separately, filling the center just before serving. "But remember," he adds, "the crown has to look beautiful on the platter. Otherwise all you have is pork chops."