Thursday, December 25, 2008

Recipe: Standing Rib Roast

On Christmas day, you just can't go wrong when you've got a baby Jesus-sized hunk of beef ribs roasting in the oven.

Now, to be clear, I am not referring to industrial beef. Grain-fed, irradiated, hormone-stuffed, and pesticide-laced beef is not what the Lord intended. Jesus wanted us to break bread
with each other, not with our cattle. And he darn sure didn't intend for us to feed our cattle petroleum, chicken feces, or other cattle.

Stewardship of the natural world means raising beef on grasslands, and grass-fed natural beef is indeed befitting of a place of honor at your holiday table.

Here's how Santa Claus came to town this year:

1 7 lb. Standing Rib Roast (natural, grass-fed)

Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Salt and pepper the beef roast generously on all sides. Remember, all that salt and pepper is confined to the surface of the roast, and it needs to do quite a bit of work to provide enough flavor to the rest of the cut. Don't skimp!

On the stove-top, heat on medium-high a lightly-oiled cast iron skillet or dutch oven. Once the surface is just beginning to smoke, lay down the beef. Sear off the roast for about 15 minutes, turning the roast every few minutes to brown all sides.

Place the whole affair into an oven on 300 degrees F, fat side up. Roast until the internal temperature hits about 110 degrees F for rare, and 120 for medium rare (it's gonna keep cooking after you pull it out of the oven). This will probably take 2-3 hours. If you were planning to cook it more than medium rare, save your money and buy hot dogs instead. Once it has hit the desired internal temperature, pull it from the oven, tent lightly with foil, and then rest the beef on a cutting board for about 20 minutes.

You should be able to remove the curved "panel" of ribs in one piece, which vastly simplifies carving. Then, go ahead and slice it into quarter-inch thick slices, and serve immediately. With any luck, you've already gotten everything else on the table and ready to go.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Recipe: Bacon Wrapped Breakfast Roll

My wife and I first met on the banks of the beautiful Kenai River in Alaska. She was a vegetarian at the time, but I tried not to let that bother me. A year and a half later (give or take), we were the winter caretakers (along with another couple) of the adventure tourism lodge where we had both worked for the past two summers.

One morning, it was about 20 below, and my friend Matt and I were cooking up a few pounds of bacon to take the edge off. Somewhere between the snowbank outside that functioned as a bathroom and our one-room cabin, something snapped in Beth's head, and her vegetarianism ended.

She came back in out of the cold, and approached the sizzling pan of bacon with a decidedly purposeful (and somewhat maniacal) look in her eyes. She reached in, grabbed a piece, and before I could stop her... she ate it. Then she ate another. And another. Matt and I began to wonder if we'd get any bacon at all that morning (we got a few strips out of the deal). Since that time, despite our move to the much warmer climate of the Colorado Rockies, Beth has continued to eat meat. And bacon. And that is good.

My friend Jake, who is a fellow culinary explorer, recently pointed me in the direction of a woven blanket of bacon filled with cheese. When I emailed the link to my wife, she responded with "that looks disgusting!" I vehemently disagreed, and insisted that, far from being disgusting, this woven quilt of bacon was the very nectar of the gods, and deserved to spread its message of warmth, fat, and love to not just cheese—but roasted breakfast potatoes and scrambled eggs as well.

I think you'll agree. Here's how to find out:

(enough for two rolls)
2 lbs. Bacon
4 Eggs, scrambled (with a splash of milk)
1 Russet Potato, cubed
1/4 Cup minced onion
2 cloves pressed garlic
1/2 Cup Grated Jack Cheese
Granulated Garlic

Weave the bacon blankets together as shown at upper right (1 pound of bacon each). I was a bit intimidated by this weaving at first... but it goes really quickly and, unlike cotton or silk, pig fat is a very forgiving textile material.

Start the bacon blankets a-roasting in separate cast iron skillets in the oven on 400 degrees F. Meanwhile, fry your breakfast potatoes and onions in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop, and when they're nearly done, scramble your eggs in yet another cast iron skillet on the stovetop.

When the bacon blankets are cooked and reasonably crispy, pull them out of the oven, fill them with eggs, potatoes, and cheese, and roll them up! Keep the seam on the bottom, and then cut the roll into roughly inch-thick sections.

Serve immediately.