10 March 2007

Prime Rib Dinner

I don't do it often enough, but when I do I thoroughly enjoy myself, which is to pull out all the stops, spend all afternoon in the kitchen, and cook a serious meal that I've considered and planned in advance. But an opportunity presented itself a few weeks ago when my dad was in town and felt the need for some good American beef.

Now prime rib is almost as fool proof a roast as you can get. It's one of the best cuts around, and while you pay top dollar for it, it has a wonderfully rich lushness that is oh-so rewarding when you sink your teeth in—I invariably sigh with pleasure at my first bite of flesh. It's so flavorful in a basic cooked state that your only job to season it well, salt and pepper will do, and then not overcook it and you're guaranteed to be golden.

This time around I massaged a coriander spice rub into the flesh as a seasoning for the roast. I like to target the medium range for my prime rib, so that it has a soft pink colored center, although some would say I'm overcooking it and lean more to a medium-rare, brighter pink core—to each her own. But I do feel that medium-well is as good as burning it and you've destroyed the juicy tenderness that you paid dearly for in the first place.

While I don't use a meat thermometer because I'm thus far too cheap to invest in one, I've done enough rib roasts in my oven to know that approximately 20 minutes at 325˚ degrees for each 1/2 pound gives me the result I desire. Then I let the meat rest covered with foil for at least 30 minutes before carving it up and serving with horseradish—a must for me. Prime rib and horseradish are pair like peanut butter and jelly; the two just go so well together that you can't have one without the other.



To accompany the prime rib, I made three very traditional side dishes: mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, and ginger glazed carrots. Originally, I wanted to make buttermilk mashed potatoes, thinking I could use up the buttermilk I bought few days before to make red velvet cake; but, alas, when I reach for the carton to douse my boiled Yukon Gold, the milk was already passed it used by date, so I had to fall back on whole milk, instead, with the usual suspects of salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. I use white pepper, as oppose to black, for cosmetic reasons, because I like to keep the mound of white fluffiness free and clear of black flecks.

As for the creamed spinach, it was the first time I ever made the dish and have since come to believe it a mixed blessing now that I actually know what can go into it. The recipe I decided on attempting called for whole milk and heavy cream, along with butter, but I blanched at all that butterfat and stopped short of the heavy cream. It tasted just as creamy with only milk and butter, and still very indulgent in my opinion.

I couldn't resist the orange and yellow carrots I saw at a local farmers market the morning of the dinner, so they became a last minute addition to the meal. Fresh ginger added liveliness to the dish that offset the mellow creaminess of the spinach and potatoes dishes. My dad actually liked this side best, so I was happy I took a chance and tried something new and different. I was just going to be boring and boil the carrots until I stumbled upon the recipe with an online internet search.

Now if I could pat myself on the back for a moment and say I thought I managed a successful meal. I didn't burn anything and I was able to time the dishes so that everything was ready to eat together—not something I always to do well. And as icing on the metaphorical cake, I got lucky and picked a wine at the supermarket that went exceptionally well with the meal. It was bold and spicy Australian Cab (Rosemount) that stood up well against the rich meatiness of the prime rib. It was a pleasure to drink; but then again, after two generous glasses almost anything tastes good and goes down easy.



Note the recipes are for more people than I had for dinner, so I adjusted portions accordingly and approximated everything down to in fractions for smaller servings.


CORIANDER-CRUSTED STANDING RIB ROAST

SERVES: 12

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup coriander seeds
2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cracked black peppercorns
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
One 7-pound beef rib roast, at room temperature
1/2 cup fresh orange juice

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a spice grinder or mortar, coarsely grind the coriander with the salt and peppercorns. Transfer the spice mixture to a bowl and stir in the olive oil and orange zest to make a paste. Spread the spice paste all over the roast and set it, fat side up, on a rack in a large roasting pan. Pour the orange juice into the pan.

Roast the meat for 25 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 325° and roast for about 2 hours and 20 minutes longer, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the roast registers 125° for rare to medium rare. Transfer the roast to a carving board, cover loosely with foil and let rest for at least 15 minutes before carving into 1/2 -inch-thick slices.

MAKE AHEAD: The recipe can be prepared through Step 1 up to 4 hours ahead; let stand at room temperature.

Food & Wine, December 1999



CREAMED SPINACH

3 lb baby spinach
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Cook spinach in 2 batches in 1 inch of boiling salted water in an 8-quart pot, stirring constantly, until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water until cool. Squeeze small handfuls of spinach to remove as much moisture as possible, then coarsely chop.

Heat milk and cream in a small saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until warm. Meanwhile, cook onion in butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Add warm milk mixture in a fast stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, and simmer, whisking, until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in nutmeg, spinach, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until heated through.

Cooks' note: Creamed spinach can be made 1 day ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then chilled, covered. Reheat over moderately low heat until hot.

Makes 10 servings.
Gourmet, December 2004


CARROTS WITH GINGER

2 pounds carrots, peeled, cut diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Place carrots, orange juice, butter, sugar and ginger in large skillet over medium-high heat. Bring to boil; cover and cook 3 minutes. Uncover and simmer until liquid glazes carrots, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Makes 6 servings.
Bon Appétit, November 1999

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5 Comments:

Blogger Jasmine said...

That looks and sounds amazing. I've a regular roast beef in the fridge for tonight--the spicing is giving me something to think about :)

j

3/11/2007 12:40 PM  
Blogger Jasmine said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/11/2007 12:41 PM  
Blogger s. said...

mmm. that looks great! (you're finally posting again!!) your creamed spinach looks awesome - i've only had failed atttempts at making creamed spinach, so maybe i'll give your recipe a shot.

3/14/2007 4:41 PM  
Blogger Blue Plate said...

hi jasmine,

glad to be of service. happy roasting!

b p

3/16/2007 1:03 PM  
Blogger Blue Plate said...

hi s.

yeah, i've let my blog go to seed a bit these last couple months. :( but, i hope remedy that in the future, although i'm not promising anything.

i think the trick with creamed spinach, although i've only made it once, is to make sure the spinach is super dry before cooking it with the cream--i squeezed mine 3 times before mixing it in.

good luck.

b p

3/16/2007 1:13 PM  

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