Category Archives: Holidays

Prime Rib

Smoked Prime Rib – Perfecting the Reverse Sear

I spent New Year’s Eve alone this year :(. I still wanted to celebrate surviving another trip around the sun, so I hunted up a small prime rib roast and tried my hand yet again at a reverse sear.

With prime rib, you want to maximize the amount of medium-rare meat from edge to center and still have a nicely browned, flavorful crust. This can be a bit tricky because most traditional roasting techniques end up overcooking the outermost layers, leaving you with a wide band of gray and dry meat.

The reverse sear avoids this by cooking the meat slowly until it’s just about medium rare, then pulling it out to rest for 30 minutes while you crank the heat up as high as it’ll go. Then searing the roast until the outside is brown and sizzling, but not so long that you start to cook the inside.

1 prime rib roast (2.8 pounds, boneless)
Sea or kosher salt
2-3 tablespoons Montreal-style steak seasoning

Prep the roast at least a day in advance. Score the deckle (fat cap by making shallow diagonal cuts in a diamond pattern at about 1-inch intervals. Generously dust the roast on all sides with the steak seasoning and plenty of salt, making sure to work it into the cuts.

If the roast is too oblong, tie if up with butcher’s twine to get it more round and compact. This will help it cook more evenly. Stash in the fridge overnight.

Set your grill up for an indirect cook over low (250°F) heat. On the Big Green Egg this meant using the plate setter (convEGGtor) inverted with the legs up and a drip pan to diffuse the heat.

When the grill is ready add a little wood for smoke. I use a mix of apple and a little mesquite.

Roast the meat at 250°F until it hits 120°F internal, about for 1 1/2 hours. I used a Maverick Et-732 Remote Thermometer to keep an eye on both grill and internal meat temp.

Prime Rib

Remove from the grill and let rest someplace warm for 30 minutes.

Prime Rib

While the meat is resting, crank up your grill as hot as it will go while still keeping the indirect setup. I got the Egg up to just a bit shy of 700°F.

Return the roast to the grill for 5-10 minutes, just long enough to crisp the outside.

Prime Rib

Slice and served immediately.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
Perfectly rare/medium-rare with a crispy crust and not a titch of gray to be seen. The smoke added a little bite to the meat that helped to offset the richness. Now that I’ve got this reverse sear figured out I’m going to be using it a lot more.

For you food geeks – I took the roast off the grill when it hit 118°F Internal. The temp rose while resting to 123°F then dropped to 122°F.  There was less than a tablespoon of juices lost on the cutting board and the meat was so juicy that there were little pools of standing juice on the slices. The sear only took 5 minutes as was so intense that at the end the little fat in the drip pan got so hot it ignited.

Oyster Stew

Oyster Stew

My first experience making oyster stew was not a pretty one. I remember trying to follow some snooty recipe by scalding milk in a paper-thin tin pan over a temperamental electric burner while a certain persnickety relative told me how I was doing it wrong. It came out fine, but no fun was had that evening.

Since then I’ve learned a few things:

  • Good gear matters – it doesn’t have to be fancy, high-end stuff, but heavy pans and sharp knives make a world of difference,
  • Scalding milk is a waste of time.
  • Recipes are good starting places but nothing is written in stone. Feel free to experiment.
  • Cook with people or for people but don’t let anyone tell you how to cook.
  • Just like there is only one captain on a ship, there is only one chef in the kitchen.

Oyster Stew
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cup clam juice
1 pint oysters and their liquor
1 medium leek, finely chopped
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon Chesapeake Bay seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leek and sweat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the clam juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the juice has reduced by half, about 10 minutes.

Add the cream, milk, celery salt, Bay seasoning, hot sauce, and lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add the oysters and parsley and simmer until the oysters start to curl, about 3 minutes.

Serve with crusty bread and more hot sauce.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
I don’t know why I don’t make this more often. It’s rich, elegant, tasty, and comes together in a flash. I’ve tried a lot of different aromatics in this dish and I really like the way leeks bring a sweet and subtle flavor to the dish without overwhelming the oysters.

Chex Mix

Chex Party Mix

Chex mix one of my favorite holiday snacks.  Thanks to the hot sauce and fresh garlic, this recipe tastes a ton better than the commercial ones and it’s gluten-free.

3 cups gluten-free Corn Chex
3 cups gluten-free Rice Chex
2 cups gluten-free pretzels (Snyder’s Of Hanover or Glutino are both good)
2 cups mixed nuts
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3 tablespoons gluten-free Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins is easy to find)
1-2 teaspoons Louisiana-style hot sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Ground sea or kosher salt

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Pour cereal, pretzels, and nuts into a into a large mixing bowl or cake pan.

In a microwave-safe bowl, add butter, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, season salt, and onion powder and microwave until butter is melted. Stir together and taste. Add hot sauce and adjust seasonings as you see fit (I added a more Worcestershire and hot sauce).

Chex Mix

Slowly pour butter sauce over cereal mixture, tossing and stirring as you go.

Transfer mix onto one or two baking sheets (I left mine in the large cake pan that I mixed everything in) and bake, checking and stirring every 15 minutes until mix is toasted and fragrant, about 1 hour.

Chex Mix

Remove from oven. Taste, and if you want to, grind just a bit of sea salt over it. Let cool and store in an air-tight container.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
I’m VERY happy with how this batch turned out – salty and savory with just the right kick of heat. I used less cereal and more pretzels this time and I think it makes for a crunchier mix. As fast as this disappears, I’d double the recipe for a crowd.

Gift Ideas 2014

It’s the gift-giving/getting time of year again. So whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, Boxing Day, or Festivus – here are some goodies that your favorite foodie might appreciate.

Raven Powder-Free Disposable Black Nitrile 6 Mil Gloves
Great food-handling gloves with enough thickness to protect your hands from hot foods and enough dexterity to handle delicate cutting jobs.

FoodSaver GameSaver Deluxe Vacuum Sealing Kit
When my second FoodSaver V3825 died I was just about ready to chuck to whole works and go back to zip-top bags. Luckily, I called the company and the service rep steered me to the GameSaver model – no bells and whistles, manual sealer, cheap, 10-year warranty, and works like a charm.

ThermoWorks ThermoPop Super-Fast Thermometer
This splash-proof, fast, and accurate thermometer is easy to use and if it saves you from  just one over-cooked roast or under-cooked chicken it will have paid for itself.

Kerr Wide Mouth 8 Oz. Mason Jars and Ball Wide-Mouth Plastic Storage Caps
Together these make excellent individual serving bakeware. I’ve used them for pecan pies, budino, pot de creme, and custards. They work just like ramekins, but once cooled, you can screw the lid on them for storage or transport.

Cafe Bustelo
The secret to the great Cuban coffee I had in Key West – rich and strong and works great in a drip coffee maker. Going to try adding this to some of my barbecue rubs.

Vegetable Starter Culture
I’ve been doing a lot of lacto-fermented veggies – dill pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, hot peppers, etc… This culture provides consistent results every time.

GrillPro 41090 2-Piece Silicone Basting Brushes
Heavier duty and easier to clean than any other brushes I’ve tried. The shorter one is good for cooking indoors and the longer one works great on the grill.

Fat Daddio’s 18 Aluminum Gauge Half Sheet Pan and Chrome Cooling Rack
These guys make some seriously heavy-duty bake ware. This combo is great for roasting in the oven, but I use it mostly for transporting and resting hunks of meat from the grill. The rack lets juices drain away so that the skin on chicken stays crispy and the crust on roasts stays crusty.

Happy holidays to all!


turkey

Ten Degree Turkey

It was mighty frigid for Turkey Day this year, so I went with this dead-simple spatchcocked turkey recipe that maximized the tender crispiness and minimized the amount of time that I had to spend outside shivering.

The Bird
1 whole fresh turkey (a 10-pound kosher bird in this case)
2 tablespoons sea or kosher salt
2 tablespoons poultry seasoning or rub (I used Penzey’s)
1 tablespoon raw or brown sugar
1 tablespoon Chesapeake Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon baking powder

Combine the salt, poultry seasoning, sugar, Chesapeake Bay seasoning, and baking powder in a shaker jar.

Clean and rinse the turkey, then pat it dry. Cut off the tail and any large bits of fat or loose skin (save along with the neck, backbone, and giblets for making gravy).

Place the bird on a cutting board with the breast side down and the back end facing you. Spatchcock (butterfly) the bird by cutting through the ribs on one side of the backbone with either a pair of kitchen shears or a sharp chef’s knife. The bottom couple of ribs are the worst to cut through. Once you are through those it goes pretty easily. Repeat on the other side and remove the backbone.

Open up the bird and make a small slice along the center of the keel bone. Press down on the outer edges of the breast until you hear the keel bone crack and the bird lies flat.
Rub both sides of the bird with the rub, making sure to work some under the skin. Refrigerate the turkey for a least an hour (overnight is best) uncovered to let the rub do its job and to dry out the skin a little.

The Cook
Set your grill up for an indirect cook over medium heat (350°F). On the Big Green Egg this means using about half a fire box full of lump charcoal, an inverted plate setter to diffuse the heat, and a drip pan to catch the fat.

Put the turkey on the grill skin side up and close the lid. Cook undisturbed for 1 hour. Check and rotate the grill if necessary to even out any hot spots. Close the lid and cook until the turkey reaches 160°F in the breast. Figure about 10 minutes per pound total cooking time. This 10-pound bird was done in just under 2 hours.

spatchcocked turkeyRemove the turkey to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes.

To carve, cut the back quarters away from the body at the hip joint. Separate the drumsticks from the thighs. Locate the bone that runs the length of the thigh and remove the meat on either side. Leave at least one of the drumsticks intact because there’s something wonderfully primal about eating one of these with your bare hands.

Find the joint connecting the wing and breast, and cut through it. Remove both wings. Cut the breast meat into two pieces, slicing along either side of breastbone. Slice the breast meat across the grain.

spatchcocked turkey

The Verdict: ★★★★★
Spatchcocking is a great way to grill any kind of poultry, but it makes cooking a turkey particularly easy and tasty. The bird cooks faster and more evenly so you don’t have to worry that the breasts will dry out before the dark meat is done.

I added a little baking powder the my rub to help crisp the skin and it worked wonders. The skin was so crisp that it practically crackled when I carved the breast.

Sweetheart Ribeye

Putting Your Heart Into It

They call it a “Sweetheart Ribeye.” You butterfly a 2-inch thick rib roast and it’s supposed end up looking like a heart.

It looks like a heart, right? Kinda? Maybe? Sorta? Glad my dear wife loves me for more than my cooking skills.

Anyway, I gave it my standard hot and fast treatment on the Big Green Egg and it was very tasty. It was not, however, the big hit of the evening. That was the Dark Chocolate Creme Brulee from She Cooks… He Cleans. It was rich, chocolatey, not too sweet, and decadently good. I highly recommend it.

Hope you all had a great Valentine’s Day!