Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Rib Roast

We had 15 come to Christmas dinner at our house. In the lead up my wife asked, "If we bought a rib roast, is that something you could cook on the Big Green Egg?" Of course having never done such a thing before I immediately replied, "Absolutely!" 

The next thing I know, we have a 17.8 lb, seven rib, standing rib roast. It reminded me of the thing that toppled Fred Flintstone's car at the drive-in. The first place I went was the Somebody there linked to which walked me through the logic and science of the reverse sear--which I'd heard of many times, but never tried.

The idea is simply that you get a more uniform doneness by first cooking your meat at a lower temperature and finally searing the outside. The idea that you first sear all the juices in apparently doesn't actually work and you end up with a band of gray meat before you get to the coveted medium rare bits. Made sense to me.

From I followed the instructions of rubbing the night before and cooking low and slow. I didn't really go in for all the other steps in the recipe--primarily because across 15 people I knew that a fancy rub and a fancy sauce wouldn't please everyone in our entourage. 

I ground up a boat load of peppercorns and mixed it with good, old fashioned sea salt. I rubbed the whole thing down the night before and by 8:30 Christmas morning I had the roast on at 200f--measured at the grate. It cooked right about that temp (ribs down) indirect over a dry drip pan until 2:00 when I decided it was done.

 How did I decide it was done, you ask? Well I was really sweating this. I craved medium rare. Some of our guests did too. Others politely requested something more medium. In the picture above you can kind of appreciate how this problem resolved itself. The left end is fatter. The right end: skinnier. So I failed to notice this at the beginning. But as I took readings with my Thermapen I realized that this was going to work out well. The roast came off with one end reading 130f and the other at 120f. There were some spots in the very middle that were reading 117f, but I told myself that was ok.

Next: The Reverse Sear
How We Almost Visited the Burn Unit for Christmas

Is it wrong that I love cranking my Egg all the way up for a sear? I know you can achieve a sear at lower temps, but somehow I can't resist the urge to let 'er rip. And let 'er rip, I did. The roast does its resting while the grill goes from 200f to THERMONUCLEAR. The recipe suggested a 8-10 min sear. By 8 minutes, my uncle, my dad and I had spent all 8 minutes consternating about how to get this roast beast back out of the grill.

Three men, four oven mitts, two sets of tongs and two spatulas. This wasn't the optimal setup for removing the roast. What would I do next time? I'm not really sure, but this was mildly frightening. I guess a 550f sear would've done the job more safely. There's probably some kind of beef gloves or rib wench or roast pulley out there I don't yet know about. But we scooped it out without anyone getting hurt--or even singed. Yay!

But putting this on the table? This was a thrill and a joy to have successfully served this to my family for Christmas dinner.

There were nice medium pieces on one end and good medium rare slices at the other. As I served it up to everyone I felt like I needed one of those big white, stovetop chef hats like you see at the Sunday buffet.

How did it taste? It's awfully hard to beat a salt and pepper rub. This really was a knockout crust with great flavor. My uncle (who may have been influenced by the death-defying experience before the meal) declared over and over that it was "the best beef I've ever put in my mouth!" With a touch of horseradish, this was really delicious. 

Bottom line: this was some of the most fun I've had cooking. I guess it's just impressive to set this down in front of guests. It's also exciting to pull it from the flames. The anticipation as you slice into it thinking, "Oh man, I hope this came out ok," and to see that it's a gorgeous medium rare, is so gratifying. Even though most folks had seconds and thirds, I wound up eating leftovers for days. Frying slices on a thin layer of olive oil in a nearly-smoking hot pan made for tasty holiday lunch. 
Thanks for reading.

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