I consider myself very lucky to have a butcher who not only knows his meat but gets as exited about my purchases as I do. When I was picking up the meat to make the Blowtorch Prime Rib Roast from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller, my butcher was absolutely beaming. "Is it a special occasion?" he asked. Indeed it was, but anytime I invest serious bucks on a nice piece of steak it is a special occasion. This was going to be a great dinner.
As luck would have it, the day I chose to make this prime rib just happened to coincide with a big snow storm. Being holed up in the house with a beautiful roast wasn't a bad place to be. However, the snow prevented me from having a blowtorch—I was planning on going out and purchasing one, but the snowfall was prohibitive. Improvisation would have to suffice.
After some careful thinking and plotting I realized the flame from the broiler was about as close as I was going to get to a blow torch. I heated it up and sat on the kitchen floor in front of the oven. With tongs in hand I placed the prime rib, fat side up, directly under the flame of the broiler. Within seconds the fat began rendering and browning. Sure, there was a little smoke and the whole operation was slightly dangerous, but the results were spot on and the smell was incredible.
After the initial browning the roast is seasoned aggressively with salt and pepper and roasted for an hour and a half at 275°F until the internal temperature reaches 128°F. Some might worry that cooking for such an extended period of time is a recipe for overdone meat, but the low temperature ensures juicy, medium rare goodness. Once the roast came up to temperature I took it out and let it rest for half an hour. Slicing into the meat revealed a perfect pink center and a golden and crisp crust.
Steak this good doesn't really need any accompaniment, but Keller's Horseradish Cream was too good to pass up. It's basically whipped cream mixed with spicy horseradish and a few spoonfuls of sherry vinegar for a hit of acidity.
Blowtorch or not, this was a dinner that I'm sure my butcher would be proud of, and I'll be sure to tell him about it next time I see him.
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- One 2-bone center-cut rib roast (about 4 1/2 pounds), trimmed of excess fat
- Kosher salt
- Coarsely ground black pepper
- Gray salt or coarse sea salt
- Horseradish Cream (recipe follows)
- 1/2 cup very cold heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- About 1/4 cup drained prepared horseradish
- 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 275°F.
Put the roast on a roasting rack in a roasting pan. Hold a blowtorch about 1 inch from the roast and turn to lightly brown the fat on all sides; the idea is to start the fat rendering and to torch the meat just until the surface begins to turn gray. Season the roast generously with salt and pepper.
Transfer to the oven, with the meat toward the back of the oven, and cook until the roast registers 128°F in the center. The total cooking time will be about 2 hours, but begin to check the temperature after 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven and let rest in a warm spot for at least 30 minutes for medium-rare.
To carve, cut the meat away from the bones. Separate the bones and put them on a serving platter. Cut the roast in half through the center, turn each piece cut side down, and slice straight down into slices that are about 1/2 inch thick. Arrange the meat on the platter and sprinkle with gray salt and pepper. Serve with the horseradish cream on the side.
- makes about 1 cup -
Put the heavy cream and vinegar in a medium bowl and whisk until the cream holds a soft shape. Whisk in the horseradish, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate in a covered container for up to 1 week.