Thursday, December 27, 2012

Easy Peasy Perfect Prime Rib for 3

We have been looking for the perfect prime rib recipe. Something perfectly medium rare, with a nice crust, that is easy to prepare... with a two year old running around. A set it and forget it recipe, if you will. Ideally, a recipe that could be applied to a big roast if we were having company, but that could also scale down to feed 3 people with minimal leftovers, if we were so inclined to have it for a nice family dinner.

This Boxing Day, we were so inclined. OK, so it was less about Boxing Day and more about us being too tired from returning from travel on Christmas Eve to actually shop, prep, and make something nice for Christmas! Fast forward one day, and we were ready to get our cook on again.

In the past, we've tried sous vide with a blow torch finish, which was an awesome end product, and met the easy recipe requirement (and really, who doesn't like to cook with a blow torch?!?), but quite honestly, all that time in the Food Saver bag (which is not officially designed for sous vide, and our contraption is nearing 8 years old), made me nervous that the seal would break we would end up with prime rib soup. Though Prime Rib Soup sounds like it has potential, we needed something slightly less anxiety causing.

So, after drooling over the Food Lab recipe for Perfect Prime Rib, we decided to give it a whirl on a smaller-than-suggested scale, with excellent results! It met the easy peasy requirements (salt, bake on low, rest, increase temp, bake more, eat), required minimal attention throughout the day, allowed for distractions by shiny objects, and came out lookin' evenly cooked like something from the HOPR (minus the zeppelin).

We purchased the smallest Choice rib roast we could find at Costco (a little over 7 lbs, 3 bones), and cut it into thirds (one bone, about 2+ lbs each), which gave us a hefty, but not unreasonable piece of meat. And at $8.99/lb, the price was somewhat reasonable for a fancy dinner for 3, with leftovers. The other two parts were food saved (an officially approved Food Saver use), and frozen for future use. The Prime rib roast was about 2x the cost, and looked amazing, but for now, we're rolling with Choice. Perhaps we'll upgrade someday when our money trees start to bear fruit, but until then, Choice was perfectly acceptable for our needs.   

The meat was salted, and put into a pan (initially a large saute, but then transferred to a smaller Corningware so it could be centered in the oven), and roasted at 170 convection (the lowest our oven will go). I would like to say I salted it 45 minutes in advance, and brought the meat to room temp first, but well, I didn't. I figured the low heat would be more forgiving on those sorts of things. The end product did not suffer because of my laziness. 

The meat roasted for about 4 hours, being checked for proper temp during the last hour to ensure we didn't over cook. 

Finally, we reached 120 (or 121 in our case). And we set it aside to rest for 30 minutes (which turned into an hour).

Then, we fired it for 10 minutes at ultra-uber-super-hot. And it crackled and spurted and made all kinds of delicious noises.

And TA-DA, it was done! A perfect medium rare with a crust to die for. Success! 

Now, to find recipes for the leftovers...

Friday, November 16, 2012

We're back!

...but a little different! 

It's been about four years since our last update.  While we have LOVED cooking from Chef Picard's delightful cookbook, we're broadening our horizons a bit. Working through the Album was a fabulous experience and we learned a lot about food and technique that we wouldn't have otherwise; wholly useful lessons we have brought forward into our everyday kitchen work.

Our new mission will still have a cochon focus, but may have a few other delicious proteins and tasty veg [gasp!] thrown into the mix. You just never know with us.

Come enjoy the ride!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Our Pig Roast - FAQ

What is this event all about?
The Pig Roast is our family’s autumnal celebration of S. scrofa domesticus. Annually, we acquire a whole, cleaned animal from a butcher. We roast it and serve it to several dozen of our friends, colleagues, and acquaintances; celebrating fellowship with all who attend.

Sounds pretty involved. Not that we don’t respect you, but are you really up for this kind of thing?
It is pretty involved. But we are more than up for it. There’s a lot of planning and there are many, many lists. This is our fifth year and our fourth pig (one year we did ribs instead) and every year is better than the last.

How do you prepare the pig?
We roast the entire animal, all at once, in a device called a Caja China. Developed by some particularly motivated Miami Cubans, it not only cooks the meat perfectly, it also produces the crispy skin appreciated by people of refinement from Havana to Shanghai. It takes several hours and about 50 lbs of charcoal to do this. 

Neat! What can I bring?
If you’d like, you can bring a savory side dish or a bottle of wine (we like red). But you don’t have to bring anything other than your appetite: we'll have lots of protein, some basic sides, and the usual keg of Guinness and great big bottle of red wine flowing.

Can I bring the kids?
Yes! Last year we about 10 kids to go along with the 40+ adults who attended – including our (now) three-some-odd year old, Vivienne. 

Can I bring my dog?
Sorry, but no. While our dogs - Indy and OOMA - are friendly and great with kids, it'd be problematic to have a new dog on the scene at the roast. Thanks for your understanding.

I’m vegetarian/vegan/keeping kosher/only eating halal meat these days. Is there anything for me at the Pig Roast?
We offer fellowship to all, and you are truly welcome to attend. But you may want to bring some of your own food to the festivities because, well, it is a pig roast.

Do you have an amusing anecdote revolving around pigs, the month of December, and Jacob’s "Czech" heritage?
Yes! Being a sensible people of taste and distinction, Czechs traditionally eat pork for their Christmas and New Year’s meals.  This practice is so common that that in the glorious and noble language of the Czech people, the word used for the month of December – Prosinec – literally translates to ‘slaughter of pigs’ in English.  Jacob, who’s very first dish cooked had a sausage component, and who would go on to become co-author of this very blog, feels a natural resonance with this, and is thrilled that this year's scheduled event falls in December.  (Note: Jacob is not actually Czech.)
A typical Czech family preparing a freshly slaughtered hog.
Note that we will NOT be slaughtering a pig at this year's roast.