Ok. There aren't many things I've shared that you HAVE to make. But this is one of those things. A smoked pork crown roast looks like it's difficult to make, but it's really pretty simple to prepare, and the flavor is incredible.
How to Make a Smoked Pork Crown Roast
This recipe all starts with a rack of pork. This could also be labeled as a pork rib roast. This cut typically has 10 to 12 bones and has some incredible flavor. It's the pork equivalent of a prime rib roast.
I like buying the rack of pork that it is already frenched. You can certainly french the rack of pork on your own, but I'd rather trust a butcher to do it when I'm working with a cut of meat like this.
There are a few things you'll need to make this smoked pork crown roast.
- A large cast-iron skillet - I use a Lodge 12" skillet for this recipe and it works perfectly.
- Butchers Twine - This helps the pork hold the crown shape while it's smoking.
- Meat Trussing Needle - This allows you to snug up the ends of the roast to one another. Super simple to use, and well worth the investment.
Dry Brining a Smoked Pork Crown Roast
The first step is to dry brine the rack of pork. One side of the pork will have a fat cap. Score the cap with a cross thatch pattern first.
I use Jacobsen Salt Co's Savory Citrus Brine for this recipe and it does a great job of complimenting the pork flavor. Liberally sprinkle the brine on both sides of the rack of pork and then place on a baking sheet and put it in the refrigerator. Let the brine do it's magic for about three hours. Going a little longer here won't hurt anything. If you're cooking this for dinner, do this step first thing in the morning.
Forming the Crown
After the pork has brined, it's time to form the crown. This is the most difficult step in the entire process.
Lay the rack of pork fat cap side down and slice a few inches into the meat between each bone. Be careful not to slice all the way through. Try to turn the pork into the crown. If it's still not coming together make the slices just a little bit deeper.
Use the meat truss to thread some butchers twine into the end of one end of the rack of pork and into the other. Tie it off to snug up the ends. Wrap additional butchers twine around the bones, and around the entire outside of the meaty portion of the pork.
Place the crown in the cast iron skillet.
Smoking the Pork Crown Roast
In total this pork crown roast will take about 4 hours to cook.
When you're ready to cook set up your smoker to smoke at 225 degrees using indirect heat and cherry wood for the smoke. Sprinkle the crown roast with some more of the savory citrus brine, and then pour a ½ cup of apple juice in the bottom of the skillet.
During the smoke, the pork will soak up the apple juice and add to the amazing flavor of this meal.
Let the roast smoke until the internal temperature hits 135 degrees. Be sure to probe a few different spots to be sure the meat is where it needs to be. I use a Thermapen for this step, but I'm monitoring the temperature of the meat remotely throughout the cook with a Thermoworks Smoke.
When the crown roast gets to 135 remove it from the smoker and adjust your temperature up to 450+. Once the smoker is up to temp put the crown roast back in the smoker to cook until the internal temperature hits 145 degrees. This will take another 10-15 minutes.
The 4.5 lb rack of pork I used for this recipe took about 4 hours to come up to temp. If you are using a larger rack of pork it could take longer. As always, cook to temp, not to time.
Once it gets up to temp pull it from the smoker, and tent with foil to rest for 15 minutes. Present to your guests in its entirety, and then slice between each bone and serve.
Smoked Pork Crown Roast
- Rack of Pork approx 4.5 lbs
- ½ cup of apple juice
- ½ cup Jacobsen Salt Co Savory Citrus Brine
- Dry brine the pork for 3-5 hours.
- Prepare the crown as outlined in the post above.
- Place the crown in a cast-iron skillet and sprinkle more of the brine on top of the crown.
- Pour the apple juice in the bottom of the skillet.
- Smoke the pork crown roast at 225 degrees until the internal temperature hits 135 degrees.
- Adjust the temperature of the grill to 450+.
- Cook until the internal temperature of the crown roast hits 145.
- Rest for 15 minutes before presenting to your guests and serving.
Do you still need to remove the membrane on the rib rack?
Chris Riley says
Personally, I always remove the membrane if it's there.
Kris Hernandez says
I did my first 21 bone crown (twice the size of one here) and based on this write up, estimated 4-6 hours smoke at 225F to 130F then the 450F to 140F but it was at 125-130F in 2 hours and alarms going off on my phone (thankful to have technology or it would have ended up dog food) as well as multiple Thermapen pokes.
I would highly recommend not counting on an estimated 4 hour smoke time for a small one or longer for a large one as I had or moving Christmas dinner to 10AM. I had to let it idle in a cooler with blankets for 4 hours(held at 120F upon removal from cooler at dinner) and then hit it in at 450F right before serving to bring it up. Half was dry, half was moist but the presentation was great and guests were polite not to say it was dry (other than my SO who said some was dry as well as myself stating the same). It would have all been moist I assume had I counted on a 2 hour smoke to 120F and adjusted the day/cook accordingly. My smoker has 3 internal temp sensors so I know the heat inside was 225F +/-10F the whole time.
My advice...do a practice run. I tried but the butcher couldnt get me what I needed in time. I could have screwed one up at home first. This cut is much too lean to screw up the timing as I did. Live and learn!
Kris Hernandez says
and yes the disclaimer of "Please remember to always cook to temperature, not to time." is a solid policy but typical smoke recipes I have found online with times aren't off by 100% or more. After more digging on smoke forums, 2 hours is pretty typical so learn from my mistake!
Chris Riley says
Things such as temp outside of smoker and how well insulated your smoker is. Some people also open the lid to look at the meat more than others which can make Then other things such as humidity, altitude, even the marbling / tissue in the meat can make an impact, bone size, etc. This why I always monitor by temperature but as you get used to your own setup you'll have a better idea of how long each thing takes.