Thursday, December 20, 2007

Primed for Roast Beef!

There must be some group think going on out there when it comes to holiday dinners. It seems everyone I talk to is doing standing rib roasts (aka prime rib roasts). It used to be you'd see a lot of ham or turkey thrown into the mix, but now everyone wants to get their cow on for Christmas. I was there last year, but this year I'm taking a different tack because my resourceful sis has found me a turducken for Christmas which I have always wanted to experience in a hands on. I'll let you know how that mysterious chicken-in-a-duck-in-a-turkey combo turns out next week.

But if you've decided to jump on the standing rib roast wagon, then you might want to be checking the following recipe out. w and I had some friends over last Sunday, and I had been jonesing to make a prime rib roast, so I did a little research and found this awesome and preparation on epicurious that couldn't have been easier or more delicious. I made a couple of adjustments to it, and the meat was rocking. Perfectly crisp crust on the outside and spectacularly medium-rare throughout. We had the requisite garlic mashers to help soak up the accompanying gravy, and did the called for roast veggies from the recipe. They sucked, so I've included a braised carrot recipe that w made the other night that I think would be perfect. Beef-O-Rama. Anyone??!

Standing Rib Roast with Rosemary-Thyme Crust
adapted from epicurious
makes 8 servings

an herb crust and special Zinfandel sauce give new meaning to the word flavorful.

1 9- to 9 1/2-pound standing beef rib roast (about 4 ribs), all but thin layer of fat trimmed
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 1/2 cups Zinfandel Beef Stock (recipe below)

Place beef, fat side up, in large shallow roasting pan or on rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle beef all over with salt and pepper. Spread mustard all over beef. Mix rosemary and thyme in small bowl; sprinkle over beef and press lightly to adhere. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Position rack just below center of oven and preheat to 500°F. Roast beef uncovered 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 320°F. Roast beef for approximately 2 to 2-1/2 hours. Roast beef until thermometer inserted into center of beef registers 125°F for medium-rare. Transfer beef to platter; tent loosely with foil to keep warm.

Discard all but two or three tablespoons of the drippings from roasting pan. Place pan over 2 burners on stove top over medium heat. Add butter to pan and melt. Add flour; whisk until smooth and just beginning to color, about 5 minutes. Whisk in stock. Boil until sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 10 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Serve beef with the sauce on the side.

Zinfandel Beef Stock
It's worth the extra effort to make this rich stock; the slow-simmered taste produces a sauce that far exceeds any made with canned beef broth.
Makes about 3 1/2 cups.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 1/2 to 4 pounds meaty beef bones (such as neck bones, beef back ribs, or crosscut beef shank)
2 cups chopped onions
2/3 cup chopped carrots
2/3 cup chopped celery
3 quarts cold water
1 cup Zinfandel or other hearty red wine
4 large fresh thyme sprigs
3 large fresh parsley sprigs
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add beef bones; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until deep brown, turning occasionally, about 15 minutes. Using tongs, transfer bones to bowl. Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot. Sauté until deep brown, about 10 minutes. Return bones and any juices to pot. Add 3 quarts cold water, wine, and next 3 ingredients. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to 3 1/2 cups liquid, about 4 hours. Strain stock into bowl. If making ahead, refrigerate uncovered until cold, at least 4 hours. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover; keep chilled.) Spoon off fat before using stock.


Quick Braised Carrots with Butter

from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything"
makes 4 servings
time: about 20 minutes

*Bittman says it is best with butter, but still delicious with oil.

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4" thick slices
2 tbsp butter or 1 tablespoon canola or other neutral oil
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp maple syrup or 1 tsp sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Minced fresh parsley, mint, chervil, or cilantro leaves for garnish

1-Place carrots, butter (or oil), water, syrup (or sugar), salt, and pepper in a medium saucepan over high heat; bring to a boil and cover. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook for five minutes.

2-Uncover and raise the heat a bit. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has evaporated and the carrots are cooking in butter and oil. Lower the heat and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender, a couple of minutes longer.

3-Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, then garnish and serve.

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