Posted by johngl
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I had a large uncooked hunk of the bone-in rib roast left over from Max’s “Thank You!” dinner. For a week, it was just sitting in the fridge I reserve for dry-aging meat. It was, uh, well…dry-aging. So, yesterday, after I finished writing the post, I got the brilliant idea of applying the sous-vide technique to the roast instead of the individual steaks. Out of the frying pan and into the…hmmm…water (so to speak).
This was a good-sized piece of meat and bone, probably 7-1/2 pounds, far and away the largest single piece of meat I’ve ever tried to sous-vide.
First, take a look at the properly dry-aged piece of meat:
The meat’s a rich red color, the surface was completely dry, and, most importantly, there was not a speck of mold anywhere on this thing. It smelled slightly sweet and not-at-all funky. If you keep your dry-aging fridge at around 34-36°F, everything will work just fine. I learned this dry-aging technique from a butcher who worked the trade for more than five decades. He also happened to be my father. Don’t make it any harder than it needs to be.
There were some thicker chunks of fat on the top and few ultra-dried bits of meat that I trimmed off, but otherwise, I positioned this bad boy in a big skillet, just to give it a little bit of a sear.
For flavoring during the sous-vide process, I opted for an emulsion of grapeseed oil, brandy, prepared mustard (whole seeds), salt, pepper, and a small hit of piquin powder. Whisking this all together, I brushed it onto all surfaces of the meat after the searing and before I stuffed it into the FoodSaver bag.
I nearly misunderestimated — isn’t it nice to now have an educated president? — the size of the bag and the meat that was to be put inside it. This proved to be the tricky part since the cow flesh was now relatively hot (from the sear) and coated with a slippery emulsion.
Sweetie! I need some help!
Thankfully, my most glorious spousal unit came to my rescue! Rather than risk the consequences of using two hands for a four-handed operation, sometimes it is just necessary to set aside one’s masculine pride and ask for help…from a woman no less. How humiliating. It’s better than a $50 hunk of meat on the floor I suppose.
She held the FoodSaver bag securely whilst I…as I…hmmm, there appears to be no delicate way to say this: slid it in (“it” being the meat). I worked on that sentence for a good ten seconds…
Now that the meat was fully encased in it’s plastic cocoon, it was time to get it into the water bath:
I set the controller at 135° …
Don’t say it! I too can read. I know it says 136. Let’s just say sometimes the heating element on my cheapo electric roasting pan overshoots the temp settings. I could tune the PID I suppose, but for these slight variances, I am not going to bother.
About five hours later, it dawned on me that I should fire this off at home rather than at the champagne party (which is where this roast was going to wind up).
I cranked the oven to 475° and let it preheat. In the meantime, I pulled the roast from its lounging state in the hot tub, carefully cut open the bag, drained off the juices, slid the roast into a roasting pan, then popped it into the oven.
Fifteen minutes later, it looked like this:
Now I had another problem. How was I going to keep this warm whilst transferring it to the party? Hmmm.
Back into the FoodSaver bag it went (Thankfully, I didn’t need help this time because the roast contracted a bit). My glory, however, was short-lived. I needed to dump the 135° water into the transport cooler. What the heck, I might as well allow it to sous vide a little longer, right?
Sweetie! Could you get the door, please?
I’d set the cooler outside on the back porch so I wouldn’t get hot water all over the kitchen floor. I also didn’t want the cat to make a mad dash out the door (cats pick some of the weirdest times to make a break for it!). There I stood, with steaming water in the roasting pan, waiting for most glorious to open the freaking door.
Two rescues in one day…I will never live this down.
Hot water safely in the cooler (with about a pint of spillage), I dropped the re-sealed bag of meat in the water, put the lid on the cooler, then put that cooler inside another (obviously larger) cooler.
Yay! Safe for transport!
Once at the party…
where it was painfully obvious that a lot of drinking was about to commence, I broke open the coolers and started slicing up the meat.
The idea here was to make a sort of French Dip kind of thing: a thin slice of meat on a dinner roll dipped in a thinnish sauce made from reduced duck stock, beef stock, and a shiraz reduction.
They went pretty fast, so I can only assume people thought the little sammies were tasty.
Now that my kitchen duties were over, I could (finally) get down to some serious champagne consumption.
Above, winemaker Billo Naravane (Rasa Vineyards) pours a glass of some wonderful 1978 Dom Pérignon, perhaps one of the best vintages of the evening. Anyone who says that champagne has to be consumed young hasn’t ever tried this “old” stuff. The colors are darker and the flavors are more of a creamy and nutty variety and very complex. Amazingly, there was a lot of fizzy left in this old bottle, too.
If you ever find yourself with a hunk of uncooked ribeye in your dry-aging fridge — and you’re supposed to make an appearance at an annual Champagne drink-a-thon in less than 7 hours — now you’ll know what to do.