Blog of an aspiring foodie

Happy New Year!

Posted by beer_chris on 1-January-2008

Spent the day cooking. What a nice relief after a busy month. Had a number of folks over, and the plan was to cook a boneless rib roast I've had for a month or so now in my freezer – I got it in the 40% off bin at Kroger some time ago.

As usual when roasting something I depended on Barbara Kafka to guide me through with the dry and abrupt writing style that makes her recipes so darn easy to understand. That and they are so effective – good results every time. It was Barbara (via Nigella Lawson – but I give Barbara the credit) that convinced me to use high heat roasting – basically not to be afraid to turn my oven up all the way to 500 and trust that my home will not burn down. It seems like all Americans – me included – seem to think that 500 is just there for show – like the 140 MPH on my Mazda speedometer. Something to know is there but never use at the risk of extreme danger, recklessness or both. Even now when I make my chicken – a recipe I've cooked probably a hundred times – there is still a sliver of doubt about 10 minutes in to the high heat roasting when I begin to believe that *this time* something is going to go wrong and I might be generating charcoal in that smoky oily mess in the oven.

But every time the high heat approach works out JUST RIGHT! I think learning to trust Barbara's recipes is part of using them – it just seems to be a lesson that is learned each time, almost like an ingredient.

So here I was today – with a nice cut of meat and guests on the way – putting my faith in Barbara again to bring me through as she always has. Yet I found myself doubting her recipe:

'But, my roast is boneless, and her examples are all bone-in! Maybe I should decrease the time at 500 degrees!'

'Oh no, it's really smoking now! I bet the little thing is a dried up beef raisin!'

Luckily my mother bought me a roasting timer/thermometer for Christmas – and at about 30 minutes in to the 45 minutes at 500 degrees called for in the recipe I was convinced that Barbara had led me astray – that my poor rib roast must be like sawdust on the inside – easily 300 degrees through-and-through – I inserted the probe and voila – 105 degrees.

At this point the Kafka-trust began to come back – I followed the remainder of the recipe to a tee – down to 325 for 3 minutes a lb (the timing for a medium-well roast) 9 minutes total – then back up to 450 for 15 final minutes. On the plate to rest for 15 – and the temp peaked at 160 on the serving plate – perfect!

Made some other newbie dishes today as well:

  • Yorkshire pudding
    Made with the drippings of the roast, of course. This came out of Barbara's 'Roasting' cookbook as well.

  • Mayonnaise-free cole slaw
    A good recipe – marinated in a celery seed/vinegar dressing all day. I pulled this off of Epicurious, and it was a hit.

  • Black-eyed peas
  • Cornbread
    Spicy and regular – I used the recipe out of my B&GH cookbook, but used melted Crisco instead of cooking oil. I think it has a cleaner flavor. For the spice in my hot cornbread I used a third of a cup of Matouk's spicy sauce in the liquid – this came out well.

  • Christmas cookies
    Not exactly what I'd hoped – these turned out to be drop sugar cookies but I intended them to be sturdy enough for cut outs. Oh well – we had a good time decorating them. Another recipe off of Epicurious, and it called for two whole vanilla beans – that's like $11, and not really worth it flavor-wise.

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