Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fearless Prime Rib

I can't believe that we have still yet to see Julie & Julia. Linda, when the hell are we going? I suppose life just gets busier and busier, germs abound, and it's no fun going to a movie when we and everyone around us have the sniffles.

Nevertheless, a theme that I have gleaned from the movie trailers and the blog is fearlessness in the kitchen. I have had this ribeye roast in the freezer for months. Ever since I found whole ribeyes on sale at the Kroger and had my butcher Carl slice 3/4 of it into 1-inch thick steaks and leave the rest as a roast.

Why a roast? What in the world was I going to do with an expensive-even-though-I-found-it-on-sale ribeye roast?? But I knew that Mike likes prime rib, and I figured time would give me the confidence I needed for this roast. After all, a prime rib is only a ribeye with the ribs still attched. The bone marrow would add extra flavor to the meat, but I'm pretty good with flavors, so I bet I could figure out how to overcome the fact that this piece of meat was missing its bones. After all, I could freeze it and save for later: I just needed the ribeye steaks to serve for Easter dinner.

Time went on, and every time I opened the freezer, there was that cut of meat. Just looking at me. Too thick to comfortably chicken out and cut into 1-inch thick steaks on my own. I've butchered meat myself, and I hated the idea of, ah, literally BUTCHERING this pretty piece on my own with the electric knife. The perfect piece to save for a big party, if only I knew what the hell I was doing with it! Meanwhile, it was just sitting there, taking up space, running out of time in storage.

So last week I sucked it up and set it in the fridge to defrost. No backing out now. A Wednesday night with my husband was special enough for this piece of meat. And after all, I DID find it on sale, so it was worth a practice for later. But what to do with a piece of meat like this? If I was this ribeye, how would I like to be prepared?

Hey, I'd want to be marinated.

So I marinated it overnight in a combination of olive oil, pomegranate-infused red wine vinegar, some leftover pinot noir, black pepper, rock salt, freshly-chopped garlic, and a little soy sauce. It was an excercise in smelling: before pouring on top of the meat, I'd smell the mixture and then smell what I was about to add to it. If it made my mouth water, I'd dump it in.

The original plan was to cook this baby on the grill, but the next day was extremely hot outside. In hindsight, I'm glad this happened, as grilling would have dried out the meat more than the braising did.

Why did I braise it, you might ask? Better yet, what the heck is braising? Per Wikipedia, "Braising (from the French "braiser") is a combination cooking method using both moist and dry heat; typically the food is first seared at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot with a variable amount of liquid, resulting in a particular flavour." The particular flavor for which I was looking was a piece of meat that still had its bones attached, but I thought perhaps having the marinade close by would compensate.

You know very well I didn't sear the meat. But that marinade smelled too good to dump out of the sink. So I fashioned a foil reservoir in the rack of my roasting pan to hold it close to the meat. I then covered the meat loosely with the foil to trap in the moisture and hopefully result in a jucier final product without being too tough.

But before I put the roast in the oven, I topped it liberally with chopped fresh rosemary and freshly ground black pepper. Girding my loins and ritting my teeth against the possibility of a fantastic failure, I set the oven to 450 degrees and popped it in. After a while, it filled the house with a lovely aroma.

After a couple of hours, the meat thermometer went off. Well, would you look at that? It's edible.

Actually it wasn't edible. It was damn good! Next time I'll set the thermometer to a lower temperature so the meat is more rare. But the picture doesn't do it justice: the center was a really bright pink, and that was only the first slice. Once we delved deeper into it, it was full of delicious rare prime-riby goodness. But by then we were too busy eating said goodness to take a photo.

You know what? We should apply this fearlessness to our lives. What would we do, what could we accomplish, if we were not afraid?


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