Posted by johngl
Most glorious mother-in-law is in town this holiday week and there’s nothin’ she enjoys more than a juicy prime rib. I really wanted to treat her to bison since she’s never sampled that particular type of bovine, but alas, that specialty item was no longer available.
Sadly, I was forced — yes, forced — to buy a hunk of ordinary cow.
To make things just a tad more interesting, our 11 year old KitchenAid refrigerator decided to give up the ghost just after purchasing said piece of meat (I bought the meat, not the fridge). I’m glad I’m always prepared to do some dry-aging.
When I moved the meat from the dead fridge to the live dry-aging one, I took the opportunity to give it a light sprinkling of salt, just to help keep bacteria at bay. After three days of dry-aging, it looked like this:
It’s got a nice patina, pellicle, and sweet — not funky — smell.
I seasoned it again with some more salt, a good bit of pepper, and light dose of granulated garlic. Pressing it into the meat with the back of a spoon, I was ready to bag it up and spend four hours in a hot tub of 135° water.
Lately, I’ve been sticking to my father’s age-old trio of salt, pepper, and garlic to season meats. When you’ve got a good piece of meat, simpler is better.
While the prime rib was soaking away its troubles, there were still a few things to work on.
Oh woe is me; I actually had to resort to store-bought beef stock since my supply went south along with the dead fridge. Since I didn’t discover the fridge died until the temp of the stuff in there was hitting the high forties (well within the bad zone), we dumped the several quarts of homemade chicken and beef stock we had stored there. It saddened me greatly.
I reduced the volume by half, added a couple of dried sage leaves from my pantry, a few leaves of fresh basil and oregano, chive whites (not the greens), and four rosemary needles. Yes, four. Both rosemary and sage can be overpowering and many people make the mistake of using way too much. In cooking, contrary to real life, subtle is better.
I brought the stock back to a boil after adding the herbs, some fresh cracked black pepper, and a tad of pequin powder, then shut off the flame, put a lid on the pan and let the stuff steep for an hour.
An hour prior to serving time, I oiled and salted the taters.
These days, I bake potatoes for about an hour using my toaster oven set at around 350°. This isn’t an exact science and the size and starting temperature of the potatoes can affect the cooking time a lot. Using the toaster oven just seems more efficient, but that’s probably an illusion.
After four hours in the hot tub, the roast looked like this:
The one thing bad about sous-vide is that meat comes out looking a little gray. Putting it under the broiler (set at close to 500°), the gray turns to great after about seven minutes a side.
Crispy brown top and bottom make for a crunchy crust.
Wrapped in a foil blankie, the beef rests.
Here’s a little tip for those folks who don’t have a warming drawer for plates: dampen some paper towels and place one between each plate, then nuke em for a couple of minutes. The steam coming off the paper towels warm the plates nicely. If there is any moisture on the plates at serving time, a quick wipe-down with a clean dish towel takes care of it.
Time for the taters!
The potatoes were rubbed down with olive oil and rolled in salt prior to baking. Since my sour cream supply died along with the fridge, I made some from eight ounces of heavy cream and a tablespoon of homemade white wine vinegar. Mixing them together yields a nice tangy flavor and the cream stiffens nicely.
One of the things I did manage to save was some white truffle compound butter. A dollop of sour cream, a pat of truffle butter, a little salt and the potatoes were ready to go.
I finished the sauce by making up a slurry of cold water and a tablespoon of corn starch and stirred it into the simmering stock a half tablespoon at a time until I got the consistency I wanted. Don’t use flour for this operation unless you’ve made a roux (a blend of butter and flour, cooked for no less than 10 minutes). The corn starch thickens nicely without leaving behind any weird flavors. Don’t use more than you need!
Adding the sauce, we were ready to eat.
The most glorious spousal unit rummaged around the wine cellar and pulled out a 2007 Flechas De Los Andes Gran Malbec.
An outstanding buy at $11, this baby is so big it needs time to air out a bit. Even after decanting and allowing it to open up for an hour, it didn’t bloom fully until about mid meal.
Flechas de Los Andes’ 2007 Gran Malbec spent 14 months in 33% new French oak, 33% second fill French oak, and 34% in stainless steel. Opaque purple-colored, it reveals a brooding bouquet of cedar, espresso, violets, and black cherry. Medium- to full-bodied, on the palate it borders on opulence, with layers of succulent fruit, a smooth texture, spicy flavors, and a lengthy finish. It admirably combines power and elegance. It also over delivers in a very big way. -92 Points – Jay Miller
I certainly can’t argue with that. While easy to drink now, I would say that this could easily handle a couple of years of cellaring and just get better.
We let dinner settle a while and noticing that we had some wine left, we sped into the cellar and grabbed some chocolates.
These babies are totally great: dark chocolate wrapped around a pomegranate center.
We just dumped some in a bowl.
Eating a chocolate then washing it down with a sip of wine made my heart race a little.
While most glorious mom-in-law took a little post dinner snooze, most glorious spousal unit and I finished the bowl of chocolates and the wine.
Ordinary cow? Maybe. Ordinary dinner? Not a chance.