Cy-n-Ide came over for playoffs and dinner on Sunday and, well, I went a bit overboard on dinner. Actually it was planned that way. All this slow roasting I have been doing got me in the mood for a standing rib roast or prime rib. A call to T at Belmont Butchery ensured the appropriate slab ‘o beef would be waiting on Saturday and the research began. Sadly, nowhere could I find the right balance of rub or marinade or cooking time or, quite frankly, easy and tasty. Decided to wing it.
The first surprise was from T at BB. When I’ve ordered something in the past it has been ready on my arrival. This time she wanted to ‘talk’. I had initially planned on some sort of bone-in cut with the eye cut away then retied to the bone. She had that, if I wanted, at a choice grade. There was also prime, no bone, and there was something else…
She brought me into the back and showed to a sheet pan with several large and quite ugly pieces of meat. Dry and leathery with a couple of growths of mold. Well, I started to worry a bit. These were prime pieces of meat that had been allowed to dry age for over 14 days. Now I had read about dry aged and have even had it in the past from the European Market in the Fan. The theory was good but the result, not so much. Dry and chewy was my last experience. Was this something I wanted to try? T hadn’t steered me wrong before but there is always a chance for the first time. She prepped me for the sticker shock to come and awaited my response. Christmas bills be damned, let’s try the dry aged. I selected the piece and she threw it onto the scale.
Ten and a half pounds… – Pause here, guess the cost per pound, multiply, gasp, repeat.
My house payment then made it’s way to the band saw. After the most bacterial offending pieces were removed the real knife work began. Dry, leathery pieces fell away revealing an amazingly marbled, firm piece of meat. The crowd in the butcher shop watching us behind the counter were strangely quiet. I looked and realized these people were coveting my meat. T’s commentary while cutting and my questions on cooking made the show into an educational episode worthy of Ina or Alton Brown.
A little over 8 pounds remained at the end and were wrapped for travel. Extra cuts of fat for the roasting pan, farm fresh eggs and BB’s house cured bacon were added to my pile and, after melting down a credit card and the jokes from the other customers about me needing a Brink’s guard out to my car I went.
First thing Sunday morning I made my rub. I had selected a garlic-horseradish recipe and altered it slightly. Basing each ingredient at one part equals 1/2 cup for a 5 pound piece of meat. As I had 8, I used one and a half parts of the main ingredients.
1 part sea salt
1 part extra virgin olive oil
1 part prepared horseradish
1/2 part fresh ground black pepper
1/2 part melted butter
Mixed together and placed in the fridge for 2 hours for the flavours to mix. I also added the leaves from several twigs of thyme but they didn’t add a whole lot to the party. An hour and a half before cooking I removed the beef from the fridge and placed on a roasting rack and then liberally applied the rub to both sides making sure to leave the fat side facing up when I was finished. The roast was then left on the counter for the temperature to stabilize with a close eye kept for curious cats.
According to my probe thermometer the beef got all the way up to 50. Perfect starting temp. Oven temp set to 450. Roasting rinsed to remove any dripping rub and replaced with carrots, onions, parsnips, celery, red wine, beef stock, and the extra fat from the butcher. Into the oven for 20 minutes and then the temp dropped to 200 for the remainder.
Here’s the tricky part. I hate thermometers. Every time I cook with a probe something goes horribly wrong. Over done or under done, no correlation to the temp on the probe. T had warned me the cooking times (original est for 200 at 30 minutes per pound) would be off as the aged beef had such a low water content. So, I basically sat by the oven. Probe set for 120 and the timer set for 2:20 (20 minutes per pound). With a steadily raising level of anxiety I watched the temp move much quicker then I thought it should throwing off all my calculations for the sides. Time to start drinking and consider pizza places in case of disaster.
After an hour we hit 120 degrees. This was way too quick for a 200 degree oven. Something didn’t feel right. Was I prepared to remove the meat and risk a dangerously rare piece of meat (Half of Cy-n-Ide is expecting so meat temp is a consideration more than usual) or leave in and risk feeding the horde of feral cats in our ‘hood the best meal they’ve ever had. Split the difference and reset the probe for 125. Twenty minutes later the fun began.
Removed the meat to a cutting board and covered with foil and a tea towel. Placed the roasting pan on the stove top and cranked up the heat. Let reduce a bit and then strained out the veg and other bits into a fat separator.
Oven cranked up to 450 for the Yorkshire pudding. Earlier I had made a batter of:
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
and left it in the fridge for at least two hours.
Into a popover pan I placed a tablespoon of canola oil and allowed to heat up in the oven. When I had separated the fat from the roast I added a bit to each of the tins and then poured equal parts of the batter into each. Back to the oven for 20-30 minutes.
The remaining juices went into a saucepan for further reduction.
About 40 minutes after removing from the oven the moment of truth arrived. Would we be feasting or ordering from 8 1/2? Carving knife sharpened and the first cut was made. The pregnant half of Cy-n-Ide got the end piece and it was perfect. MR all the way through without a large band of MW or, god forbid, W. The next cuts yielded all perfectly rare pieces. Gravy boat of jus and dish or horseradish sourcream joined us at the table and the feast began.
Things I would do different… The rub was made based on the assumption of a thick layer of fat on one side and bone on the other. The fat here was thick enough but the direct application on the meat side left it a tad too salty for me, although no one seemed to complain. For a boneless piece I would cut the salt to 1/2 part and perhaps still add the fresh thyme leaves. A 5 pound boneless piece for the 4 of us would have been sufficient. We had left overs last night and will finish it tonight. The 8+ pound boneless piece yielded 10 cuts of a little over an inch. I’ll need to experiment more on yields for bone-in and fresh pieces.
And yes, I am looking forward to one more night of leftovers!