Also known as a pork blade roast, seven-rib roast or a pork rack, a center cut pork rib roast is shaped like a standing rib roast for beef or a rack of lamb. Instead of individual pork chops, the ribs are cut to make one large piece of meat that is essentially several bone-in pork chops attached to make one large roast. The number of ribs can vary, although a center cut rib roast is cut from the center of the loin, where the meat is even, less fatty and more tender. Oven roast your rib roast at low temperatures to ensure even cooking.
Size, Crown Rib Roast and Frenching
Center cut rib roasts have between five to seven ribs per roast. In some cases, the roast can be sold boneless, but this is uncommon, as part of the benefit of this roast is the large, meaty bone that adds flair to the roast’s presentation. You can also tie together two rib roasts, pushing the ends together and securing with butcher string, to make a crown rib roast, essentially a circle of attached pork chops. Frenching can be done on a normal rib roast or on a crown rib roast. Remove the meat between the rib bones, cutting along both sides of the bones until you hit the meaty portion of the loin. Strip all of the meat off of the bones with a sharp knife. While not necessary, this produces a more elegant presentation.
Seasoning the Roast
As a premium cut of meat, rib roasts need little more than grainy salt and fresh black pepper as seasoning. However, you can use any seasoning on the rib roast that you would for a piece of pork. As a richer cut, rib roasts do well with strong herb flavors, such as a blend of garlic and rosemary with lemon juice. Rub the exterior of the roast — both sides — with the seasoning and let rest at least 4 hours or overnight in the fridge. Crown roasts, which have the opening in the center, can be filled with herbs, cut pieces of onion and pierced citrus fruit, which will season the meat further during cooking.
Because rib roasts contain little connective tissue other than the meat between the rib bones, it does not benefit from being cooked to an internal temperature higher than 145 degrees Fahrenheit, the recommended temperature for pork as set out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. To ensure the pork roast cooks evenly — so that the exterior is not overdone before the interior is fully cooked — cook the roast slowly at a low temperature.
Preheat the oven to 250 F, and place the rib roast — held in a roasting tray or on a broiler rack — in a center rack in the oven. Cook for 25 to 40 minutes per pound for a rib roast, and 12 to 15 minutes per pound for a crown roast. While the meat will turn white and the juices will run clear when pork is fully cooked, use a food thermometer to guarantee that it does not become overcooked. Remove the roast from the oven when it reaches 135 F, and preheat the broiler to 500 F. Place the roast and the pan back in the oven, so that the top of the roast sits 2 inches from the broiler. Broil for 7 minutes, until the top is browned and slightly charred. Remove from the oven and tent with foil, letting the roast rest for 15 minutes before serving. During the resting and broiling stages, the roast will continue cooking, and should rise to 145 F after resting.
References and ResourcesSerious Eats: The Food Lab -- How to Cook a Perfect Crown Roast of Pork
Food and Wine: Herbed Pork Rib Roast
Canadian Living: How to Cook Pork Rib Roast
Cook's Thesaurus: Pork Loin Cuts
Pork Be Inspired: Pork Cooking TImes and Temperatures