Saturday, January 19, 2013

An excellent Christmas dinner

December 25, 2012
  • Beef Rib Roast
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Au Jus
  • Peas & Onions
  • Rosemary Honey Dinner Rolls
  • Creekview Vineyards 2009 Melodius Red Wine
  • Martinelli's Sparkling Cider
  • Chocolate Soufflé

Even though the kids are grown, Christmas is a special day, a day for a special meal. (Diane and I have always been the biggest kids around here, anyway.) We generally have a nice roast beef for Christmas dinner, often served with Yorkshire pudding or popovers. This year I considered several different recipes for roast beef utilizing different cuts of beef, but in the end I decided to go with a rib roast. Prime rib is expensive to buy so we only have it on special occasions and it is relatively easy to prepare.

Food Wishes posted a recipe for dinner rolls just in time for the holiday, so I made them to accompany our meal. This was one time when I wish I had more than one oven in the kitchen. (And while I'm dreaming, a wall oven would be nice, one that is at eye level instead of one you have to bend over to work with.) Since we have only one oven and it would be in use much of the afternoon roasting the beef, I prepared the dinner rolls Christmas morning and then warmed them in the microwave for serving. I thought the rolls could have been more tender, but perhaps I was expecting something like the Parker House rolls that we used to get from Lynch's Bakery back in my home town of Chittenango. I used 1 tablespoon of honey but I think they could have used more. The rosemary came from a plant in or garden and the flavor wasn't very strong in the rolls, I blame this on our old rosemary plant rather than on the recipe.

I used the "Food Wishes Method", formerly known as "Method X" to prepare the roast. This method is designed to be a fool proof route to a pink, juicy medium-rare roast. But I fooled the fool-proof method. I purchased "Beef Rib Roast Bone In Pasture Beef", two ribs and 3.2 pounds for $42. I think this roast came from a smallish cow. The roast was removed from the refrigerator first thing in the morning so that it could come to room temperature for roasting. After six hours or so it was covered with butter that had been seasoned with freshly ground black pepper and Herbs de Provence then liberally salted. A probe thermometer was inserted and the roast was placed in a pre-heated 500° oven for 17 minutes, 5 minutes per pound. The oven was then turned off. The roast cooks for another two hours in the closed oven or until the internal temperature reaches 125°. Unfortunately, and this is where I fooled the fool-proof "Food Wishes Method", I forgot to set the alarm on the probe thermometer. When I checked the temperature after just 75 minutes it was already 131°, probably because this was a smallish roast. I immediately removed it from the oven, worried that it was overdone and ruined. Overdone? A little. Ruined? By no means. The meat was juicy and tender and nicely seasoned. I was worried it would be too salty but even Diane didn't think this was a problem.

I have never felt confident about making gravy from pan drippings. For this meal I used the Food Wishes instructions to make an Au Jus. I didn't follow the recipe explicitly but I did use the method described by Chef John. I added flour to the pan drippings, which I had transferred from the glass baking dish into a skillet after pouring off much of the fat. This was cooked with a little flour, a can (2 cups) of low-sodium beef broth was added, and this was reduced while the rest of the meal was finished. It turned out really good, hot and beefy, and it went well over the potatoes and the beef.

Dinner preparations had begun on Christmas Eve when I prepared make ahead chocolate souffle. This is a convenient dish, which I've written about before, and I have now posted a recipe. Except for the final baking all of the work can be done ahead of time. I should have read my previous post before baking the soufflé as I would have noted that in our oven it needs to bake for a full 20 minutes. The first few souffleés that we ate were a little underdone. Still good, but a little gooey in the middle. Nonetheless they were an excellent finish to an excellent Christmas dinner.

Beef Rib Roast from Food Wishes 
Beef Au Jus from Food Wishes 
Rosemary Honey Pull Apart Dinner Rolls from Food Wishes 
Individual Chocolate Soufflés from Cook's Illustrated

No comments:

Post a Comment