Chosen Bites: Still feeling festive

The Hanukka party is not over. Winter is a great time to gather with friends and nothing says festive like an amazing, crispy-crusted roast.

Still Feeling Festive (photo credit: Laura Frankel)
Still Feeling Festive
(photo credit: Laura Frankel)
While the hybrid holiday of Thanksgivukkah (my last time typing that word!) is over and Chanukah has come and gone. You may feel like “the party is over” and we are back to same-old, same-old.
Fret not! Winter is a great time to gather with friends, enjoy each other’s company and share great food.
Before you totally give up the festivities, I have some tricks up my sleeve that will make your spirit bright.
Nothing says festive like an amazing, crispy-crusted roast. The crème de la crème of roasts is a Standing Rib Roast. This handsome cut of meat is the rib eye on the bone. With all the tasty meat comes the bones and fat cap. The fat is where the flavor is! As the roast cooks, the fat melts into the meat creating succulent and juicy flavor. So, don’t trim the fat. Leave it be!
Cooking meat on the bone does several things. The bones are a good conductor of heat and cushion the meat from the heat. Thus the meat closest to the bone is always the most tender and juiciest. Think of a whole roasted chicken. The chicken is always (if done right!) juicy and tender. The bones don’t really add much flavor as rib bones don’t have exposed marrow, but there are some nice fatty and sinewy pieces that are loaded with flavor compounds. Those delicious bits are where you will find me and a paring knife committing debasing acts of carnivorous behavior. YUM!
Cooking a beautiful roast on the bone is a sexy presentation. Everyone stops talking and says WOW! Even the vegetarians are at a loss for words, maybe for a different reason?
My favorite way to serve a Standing Rib Roast is to slice some of meat into thin slices and shingle them on a platter with the rest of the gorgeous roast on the platter, standing tall and proud, and ready for more slicing.
Cooking a large piece of meat to the perfect juiciness starts with bringing the meat to room temperature before cooking. The center/eye of the meat should be at room temperature or it will be undercooked with the outer layers will be overcooked. Take the time to allow the meat to come to room temperature which should be about 1 hour or so. I scatter the bottom of my roasting pan with small onions, baby potatoes and whole heads of garlic. I use cipollini onions which are small and sweet. They cook to a delicious gooey texture and make a great schmear for the meat as does the roasted garlic. Divine!
Serves 8-10
6 rosemary sprigs, leaves stripped and chopped8 cloves of garlic, finely chopped¼ cup kosher salt2 tablespoons freshly cracked pepper1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil1 8-pound bone-in rib roast
Garnish: Small onions, new potatoes, whole heads of garlic
1. Place the rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil in a food processor and pulse until the mixture forms a paste.
2. Schmear the paste, generously, on the roast and allow the roast to stand at room temperature for an hour or refrigerate overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 232 C. Place the meat in a roasting pan, meat facing up, and roast for 30 meats. Decrease the oven temperature to 176 C and cook, occasionally spooning the juices over the meat, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers about 51 C for medium rare. Occasionally I go a little under to account for carry over cooking.
4. Allow the meat to rest for about 15 minutes before cutting the meat off the bone and slicing.
5. Skim the fat off the pan juices and serve with the meat, potatoes, onions and garlic.
Chef Laura Frankel is Executive Chef for Spertus Kosher Catering and author of Jewish Cooking for All Seasons, and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes.