Monday, November 16, 2009

The feast of Christ the King—closing the liturgical year

The last Sunday of November is the feast of Christ the King, which falls this year on November 22. This feast marks the end of the Christian year. (The following week, Advent begins—with fasting and prayer, and preparation for Christmas.)

Many powerful images in Christian art show Christ as King.

Many passages in scripture emphasize the theme of Christ’s kingship. Here is a glorious, stirring quotation from the opening chapter of Revelation:

“Grace and peace—from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the first-born from the dead and ruler of the kings of earth.”

Many Doctors of the Church have also stressed the theme of divine kingship, often emphasizing that it must be within—in our hearts and minds. Here is a beautiful passage from one of the early Fathers, Origen, writing in the 3rd century:

“The kingdom of God, in the words of our Lord and Savior, does not come for all to see, nor shall they say: ‘Behold, here it is!’ or ‘Behold, there it is!’ But the kingdom of God is within us, for the word of God is very near, in our mouth and in our heart. Thus is it clear that he who prays for the coming of God’s kingdom prays rightly to have it within himself, that there it may grow and bear fruit and become perfect. For God reigns in each of his holy ones.” (from Origen, On Prayer)

Now, food for this feast!
We recommend a crown roast of pork. This is a very regal-looking dish, in the form of a crown. (It consists of pork chops, tied in a circle.)

It is also exceedingly tasty!

Here is a picture of a crown roast to give you the idea--but I also like to add something extra to get the full visual effect! Most butchers will give you little golden foil frills to put on the tops of the chops, which make the dish look even more crown-like. (You may be able to find this sort of golden frill at a party store—or make them yourself with little pieces of gold foil or yellow paper.)

Crown roast of pork, to serve 8 (figure 1-2 chops per adult)

A crown-roast with 12 chops (Note: you order these roasts from a butcher, not by the pound, but rather by the number of chops; but the butcher will tell you the weight.)
¼ cup olive oil
Juice of ½ fresh lemon
Optional: 2-3 cloves garlic, mashed or finely chopped
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp sage
¼ cup fresh parsley
Stuffing—see below

Stuffing for the roast
See the stuffing recipe for Thanksgiving turkey, in A Continual Feast, p. 221. But any stuffing recipe will do. Try adding some chopped pecans, chopped scallions, and dried cranberries to your basic stuffing recipe.

Marinate the roast for a few hours or over-night in the oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt & pepper, thyme and sage. Turn the roast a few times in the marinade.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Put the roast in a large roasting pan.
Roast the meat for 25 to 30 minutes a pound, or until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees. (When the roast is cut with a knife, the juices should run clear.) Baste the meat occasionally with the pan juices.
In the meantime, prepare the stuffing.
About 20 minutes before the meat is done, spoon into the center cavity of the roast as much of the stuffing as will fit. Keep the rest of the stuffing warm, and serve it as a side dish.
When the meat is done, cover it loosely with aluminum foil and let it sit for about 10 minutes, to let the juices settle.
If you have little gold crowns, place them on the tops of the chops.
Sprinkle with fresh parsley.

A crown roast is great with mashed or roasted potatoes—or really any kind of potato! (See some recipes in A Continual Feast.)

You may also want to serve the roast with a sauce. Here is one I like.
Cream sauce for roast pork:
2 Tsp pan drippings
½ pint heavy cream
1 tsp mustard (I use Dijon-style)
Optional: 1 Tsp tomato paste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp thyme or rosemary


Spoon the pan drippings into a saucepan.
Stir in the heavy cream. Bring to a boil, and let the cream thicken a bit, stirring frequently.
Stir in the mustard, (optional) tomato paste, salt, pepper, and thyme (or rosemary).
Heat a bit longer, under low heat, stirring, until the mixture is heated through.
Taste for seasoning.
Serve the sauce hot with the roast.

And crown-shaped breads and cakes!
There are also many baked goods—breads, coffee cakes, and other cakes—that can be made (or bought) in a round, or crown-like, shape. In A Continual Feast, see for example, Kugelhopf (p. 24).

You can invite your children to decorate any round cake to look like a crown. You can color white icing yellow with food coloring, and decorate the cake, emphasizing a crown shape, for example with gumdrops and sprinkles, or small pieces of candied ginger, or almonds or pecans. In my experience, this is an invitation that no child will pass up!

1 comment:

  1. This sounds absolutely delicious - nay, regal! Thank you.