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Toad in the Hole

11 Sep

Toad in the Hole 2

I’m an Anglo- and Hiberno-phile (a lover of things English and Irish, that is).  I’ve been to Ireland twice and I have seen Toad in the Hole on a few pub menus, but I never ordered it.  For whatever reason, one day I remembered it on the way home from work…sausages in a pastry with gravy.  How can that be bad?  It can’t.  It’s one of the best dishes ever on an autumnal or wintery evening.  I mean, just look at it!  It’s just tits!

When I remembered the dish, I started doing some research.  I found a few recipes and sort of blended them all together (if you want the individual ones, let me know and I will look them up).  Toad in the Hole is traditionally made with bangers, English pork sausages made with breadcrumbs.  They are just not found around the central coast of California, except for one butcher in Arroyo Grande, who makes exceptional ones.  So, I thought that perhaps chicken and apple sausage might work  (I use Aidell’s from the supermarket…foodies can piss off).  Indeed, they do work famously, and I have thus created a new California/ English/ Irish fusion comfort food I actually call “Cock in the Hole” because of its chicken sausage.

This post, by the way, is a revised version of one of the first recipes I posted, which I altogether called “Cock in the Hole,” but I think I put some people off with the title. I have to admit, though, the search terms that brought up my blog because of that title were worth it. People search for some weird shit on the internet, let me tell you.

It might look daunting, but it’s totally easy. The readiness is all.

Toad in the Hole

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter melted

3 eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon canola oil (or something equivalent)

1 pound of cooked chicken and apple sausages (or whatever your little heart desires in the sausage category) *Note: if you use uncooked sausages, brown them in a pan first to make sure they get cooked through!

For the gravy, you need:

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon of oil

1 teaspoon of superfine sugar or regular sugar

2 cups vegetable stock

2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon of mustard powder

2 teaspoons of flour

salt and pepper to taste

Makin’ It:

Whisk together the flour, salt and pepper, and then make a well in the center of it.  In the well, pour the melted butter, beaten eggs, and milk, and whisk it until it’s smooth like a pancake batter.  Cover it and let it sit for about 30 minutes.

Make sure you have two racks in your oven. When you’re ready, coat an 8 x 12 baking dish with the tablespoon of oil, put it in the oven, and preheat the oven to 425° F (the dish and oil will be piping hot when you put in the sausages and batter).

Toss the sliced onions with the sugar and oil, and put them in a single layer on a baking sheet.  When the oven is ready,  put the onions on the top rack.  In the heated baking dish on the bottom rack, carefully place the sausages in there and watch so you don’t get splattered.  (If you are using uncooked sausages, make sure to brown them first before you put them in the oven pan!) Spoon the batter over the sausages in the dish evenly, scraping the bowl so everything is used.  Close the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile for the gravy, heat the stock (or make the stock from bullion cubes) and add the Worcestershire sauce and the mustard powder to it, mixing well.

After 15 minutes, remove the onions, which should be roasted and brown and even black in some parts. In a saucepan, heat a teaspoon of oil and add the onions and the flour.  Cook it about a minute or two until it’s paste-y, and then start adding the stock little by little, scraping up the bits on the bottom of the pan.  After all of the stock is added, let it simmer and thicken until the Toad (or Cock depending on the sausage and your sauciness) is ready.  Season it with salt and pepper to taste.Toad in the Hole 1

(Note: I made a half version of a Toad in the Hole in these pictures, obviously.)

After the 30 minute timer goes off, it should be golden brown and fairly firm, as the picture above shows.  Let it rest a few minutes, and then slice the Toad between the sausages, and serve with gravy with which to smother it.

I love roasted potatoes and green beans smothered in the gravy with it.  Britons say that mashed potatoes are the key.  Whatever blows you hair back will work fine.

Drink:  Beer makes this heavenly, especially a Bass or a Harp.

One of the best parts of being American is that I get to simulate, interpret, and amalgamate.    I have served this to people and they have been blown away.  They might say it’s an inside-out hot dog, but I think that’s oversimplifying, like we Americans tend to do.  In any case, this has become a regular menu item in our house, and perhaps it will be in your house too.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013

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Curried Chicken Salad

7 Jun

Curried Chicken Salad Sandwich 2

I write this post with only one graduation ceremony in front of me before a few months o’ summer break. In truth, one of the reasons that I know that I love my job is that I will miss the classes that I had this last semester (the previous semester is another story). Specifically, the only British literature class I taught this year was one of the best I have ever had; we could engage in discussions about literature or culture or sundry cerebral topics with depth and curiosity.  Moreover, now they have the tools to understand some pretty complex reading, so it’s satisfying on multiple levels. It’s like they’re almost people, I dare say.

So a few weeks ago, I decided to plan an English tea party with them. Granted, this was my first period class, so it was quite an early tea in terms of English norms, but whatever. I fell short of making them dress up in suits and bonnets or having them raise their pinkies when drinking the tea for fear that they would tell me to piss off, but I did balk at it, of course.

I tripped out that, even with the ubiquitous Starbucks enterprise, most of them had no knowledge of a scone. Crumpets? They were bewildered. What the hell are tea sandwiches? Curry? No concept. But that’s why I’m there. So I told them where to go to buy what, and they had adventures.

When I introduced the idea, I explained that an English tea is another meal time across the pond…”very British,” I said. Their response? “You say ‘very British’ about everything in this class,” to which I responded in my best English accent, “Sorry,” which is very British as well. We generated a list of items to be purchased, set the date, and we were on our way. This event went smashingly well aside from a few hiccups, like kids eating un-toasted, cold crumpets, Flaming Hot Cheetos making the rounds, and my principal showing up towards the end of class as Eddie Izzard’s Glorious played on my Smartboard, but it all made it our own. No matter what career you’re in, throw a tea party in the states and people get titillated.

I have no idea where I got this recipe for Curried Chicken Salad, but I have refined it over the years and now it’s all mine. This works well with leftover chicken, too. It just kicks ass. I never order it anywhere now because mine’s better. This is probably not too bad on Weight Watchers, either.

Curried Chicken Salad

Makes enough for 10 sandwiches, I’m guessing

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked, shredded or chopped chicken (Tip: Roast a whole chicken (450° for an hour) or some cut up chicken (400° for 35-45 minutes) coated with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Let it cool, discard the skin, remove the meat from the bones, and you’ll have the juiciest, most beautiful chicken ever. Or put a few boneless breasts in a pot and cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer covered for 30 minutes.)

1/2 medium onion, chopped (whatever kind you have works)

2 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup light mayonnaise

1/2 light sour cream

2 heaping tsp. curry powder

1/2 to 1 tsp. salt (to taste)

1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans or almonds (optional)

freshly ground black pepper to taste

paprika for a garnish

Makin’ It:

In a bowl, combine the chicken, onions, garlic and nuts (if using). In another bowl, whisk together the mayo, sour cream, curry powder, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the chicken and mix it well, kid. Chill it for at least an hour.

Scoop it on a bed of lettuce and garnish with the paprika, or spread it on soft wheat bread to make a sandwich. For the tea party, I cut the crusts off and then cut the sandwiches into four triangles. Easy as a hippie who needs a ride to a tree sit-in.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013

Slow Cooker Country Captain Chicken

27 Apr

Country Captain Chicken 003

Being a California native, I asked myself in my head, “What the hell is Country Captain Chicken?” the first time I heard of it. During my first years of teaching, one of my colleagues, originally from West Virginia, said she was making this for her son that night because he was coming home from college for the weekend and this was his favorite.  When I heard this, I asked her, “What the hell is Country Captain Chicken?” I received but a nebulous answer that it was chicken. And lastly, when I was looking through my Weight Watchers cookbook, I saw a Country Captain Chicken recipe, and I therefore inquired aloud, “What the hell is Country Captain Chicken?”  I am somewhat implacable concerning some things.

Briefly, Country Captain Chicken is a full-on American dish comprised of Chicken (told you), mushrooms, tomatoes, raisins, and curry over rice.  I would never have guessed, based on the ingredients, that it would be a southern tradition, but ’tis, and ’tis another reason I love the south.

Wikipedia, a reference that I mock and scorn as a teacher teaching research (yet I embrace as a lover of easily-accessible information in my private life), indicates that Country Captain Chicken could be regarded, as Chef Mamrej Khan has said, as one of the world’s first fusion foods.  Wow.  Wikipedia also describes that it was brought over here by the British probably through the port of Savannah with which the British East India Company traded.  Therefore, my Anglophilia is satisfied by this account and it is an Indian-British-American South dish.

Now with Weight Watchers, stews are very prominent because they fill you up, they can made without a lot of fat, and they still pack tons o’ flavor.  The Country Captain, whoever he is, does that job brilliantly here. The curry ties everything together, and you get a huge portion (2 1/4 cups) on rice (1/2 cup) for only 7 points on the old WW system (Points Plus and 360° can both fuck off indefinitely).  Moreover, it’s a slow-cooker recipe, so you can put this baby together before work and, when it’s time to eat, all you have to make is the rice.  Easier than a curious college student on Mardi Gras.

Slow Cooker Country Captain Chicken

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 cups mushrooms, sliced (any mushroom variety would work)

1 cup onion, chopped

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1 chopped bell pepper, seeded and membranes removed

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken (breast or thighs), chopped into bite-size pieces

1 tbsp. all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chicken broth, fat free if possible

2 tsp curry powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp.  black pepper

1/2 tsp. paprika

3 cups canned crushed tomatoes, or diced tomatoes crushed by hand

1/4 cup raisins or dried fruit

2 cups cooked rice, white or brown

fresh basil leaves (optional)

Makin’ It:

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and coat it with cooking spray or a tiny bit o’ olive oil.  Add the mushrooms, onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. Saute these guys until they’re tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Add these to the slow cooker along with the chicken and mix it all up.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and the broth until it’s smooth.  Add it to the slow cooker. Add in the curry powder, salt, pepper, paprika, tomatoes, and raisins.  Stir this together until it’s well-blended.

Cover and cook on the low setting for 5 hours.  Spoon 1/2 cup o’ rice on four plates (use a measuring cup to make the cool rice dome you see in my pictures). Ladle the chicken and sauce on each plate. You can serve it with fresh, torn basil leaves too, and it’s wonderful.

Country Captain Chicken 009

This has been a regular in my house for years.  Taste it and you’ll know why.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013

Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad

3 Mar

Carrot and Avocado Salad 010

I think one of the biggest compliments I have ever received on a dish I have made was for this one.

A few years ago, I made this as a side for my Baked Penne with Butternut Squash and Ricotta (https://dinnerwithjonny.com/2012/12/26/baked-penne-with-butternut-squash-and-ricotta/).  I had a meeting that evening at school, and I knew that my principal probably had her nose to the grindstone the entire day, so I decided to bring her some dinner (I AM Italian, so I want to feed everyone if I can).  I showed up a bit early for the meeting, gave her the dishes, and went to grade some papers until the meeting started.  About ten minutes later, I heard, “Jon!  What did you put in that salad?  My mouth is dancing with flavor right now!” I explained the recipe below and told her I would send it to her.  I even got a thank you note for this with similar sentiments on how much she loved the salad.  The reason this was such a big compliment to me is because I know that she’s a foodie, and I managed to impress her with some flavors that she hadn’t experienced.

If anyone makes this salad, you will totally understand why anyone would be impressed.  This is not a pussified salad either; it borders on a main course, and its flavors will titillate the erogenous zones of an entire party, if you make it for them.  The substance of the roasted carrots, avocado, and grilled bread, kissed with the seeds and the dressing, create pure pleasure and satisfaction.  It took me about an hour and a half to make it the first time, but now that I got the hang of it, it’s 45 minutes tops.

By the way, this recipe, with only a few modifications, is straight from Jamie Oliver, that British kid whose food show is quite bitchin.’  But, he’s British and therefore writes in a funny accent and he uses the metric system.  I write using the U.S. Customary Unit, which isn’t nearly as confusing as the metric system, that 10-based thingie where everything translates logically and easily. Most importantly, I do not write in a funny accent, so I have an edge on him.

A few years ago, Jamie would do a half-hour show (Jamie Does…wherever) that focused on dishes of a particular region.  The recipes from Morocco totally intrigued me because I was almost completely uneducated as to the culture and cuisine. So I went on sort of a Moroccan kick for a while, and I will write about those recipes in the coming months because they tend to be more springy and summery dishes (Africa can be hot, from what I hear).

In any case, this would be a great salad to make and serve a while (like an hour) before dinner because it is filling.  It will give people more incentive to drink good wine and loosen their jaws a bit.

Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad

Serves about 4

Ingredients:

1 lb. carrots, the neato heirloom ones are best, but regular ones are fine too

2 tsp. cumin seeds

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp. each of salt and ground black pepper

2 cloves garlic, peeled

2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, or 1 1/2 tsp. dried

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 orange, halved

1 lemon, halved

2 or 3 ripe avocados (I love more, but it’s up to you)

Ciabbata or a rustic-type bread, cut into about four slices, and grilled a bit

Enough mixed greens for four small salads, washed and drained

1/2 cup sour cream

4 tbsp. mixed seeds (I used poppy and sesame, and I would have used pepitas if I had them)

Makin’ It:

Preheat the oven to 350°.

You can peel or not peel the carrots, depending on your preference.  Cut the ends off of them and put them in some boiling water (to parboil them) for about 10 minutes.  While they’re boiling, make the seasoning for the roasting part.

Using a mortar and pestle (I am guessing a spice grinder would work here too, but not when you add the garlic and wet ingredients), smash up the cumin seeds, chilies, salt, and pepper.  Add the garlic and the thyme and smash all of this up into a kind of paste.  Add in the olive oil to cover up the paste (add more if you need to)  and the vinegar.  This is the marinade for those carrots when they come out of the boiling water.

Put the halved oranges and lemons face down in a roasting or baking dish.  Drain the carrots, add them to the baking dish, and carefully coat them with the herb-y paste-y marinade. Roast this for 30 minutes.

While everything’s in the oven, cut the peeled and pitted avocados into slices.  Wash the greens and get your act together.

When the carrots are done, remove them and divide them amongst four plates.  Carefully and using tongs, squeeze the orange and lemon halves well into a bowl  (I mean carefully because the fruit will be fucking hot).  Add an equal amount of olive oil and a swig of red wine vinegar (1 tbsp. or so, but taste and adjust if you need to, kiddo).  Season it with salt and pepper.

Divide the avocado between the four plates.  Take the greens and toss them with some of the dressing.  Top the avocado with the greens, dollops of sour cream, and the seeds.  Tear pieces of the grilled bread around it too.  Drizzle  more of the dressing over the salads and serve.  You will get this:

Carrot and Avocado Salad 016

The colors alone warrant a collective thrill and hug-fest.  Get some wine involved and lifetime friendships will be made, to be sure. There are lots of Moroccan chicken soups and stews that would compliment this salad well.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013

Chicken Curry Pot Pies

28 Feb

Curried Chicken Pot Pie 008

Nothing says home cookin’ like a pot pie, except someone who consistently practices saying “home cookin'” and should get their ass kicked.  Like many people, I went through my frozen Marie Callender’s pot pie phase in my early twenties and, yes, my nose effused sodium, I spoke thickly for some reason,  and I turned into a doughy, paste-y specimen of a human.  Once I hit my late twenties and early thirties, I needed to keep my ankles in shape, so I quit the store-bought pot pies.

And then I learned that making pot pies isn’t really that big of a deal, and there are shortcuts to be had, and they can be made so that you will not have to buy an early grave.  The first one I made was an Ina Garten recipe and, yes, it’s indulgent and fattening and beautiful.  But one can put all sorts o’ goodies into pies, and tonight I made a keeper.  My good sense told me not to eat the whole damn thing even though my wife almost had to hold my arm behind my back and tazer me to stop.  This pot pie was that good.  So, some background is needed.

I have said before that I am an Anglo- and Hiberno-phile, meaning a lover of things English and Irish.  Savory pies, some might call them pasties, are a staple of the British isles and Ireland.  Also, because of England’s cunning use of flags (thanks Eddie Izzard), they dominated India for many years, and they managed to steal curry from them, amongst other things, and they stole the word “pajamas” (no joke…look it up).

British pub chicken curry is a nut buster if ever there was one.  If you’re ever in Fullerton or Santa Ana, California, go to The Olde Ship and you’ll understand the beauty of pub curry.  One of the best indulgences I’ve ever eaten was French fries with curry sauce on them, and I got those in Ireland.  Granted, I had about 10 Guinnesses and some whisky in me to boot, but I still was touched on an emotional level and right after crawled to my hostel near the Galway road.

I know that there are pie shops in England that sell curried chicken pies, so I decided to do some investigating.  It started with me deciding that I wanted to make pot pies tonight with my thawed chicken breasts, the boring bastards that they are.  I looked through my mom’s old recipe book and found a pot pie recipe, so that gave me direction.  I have had a hankering for curry for a few weeks, so the perfect storm arose: I searched for some pot pie recipes and decided to get creative and improvise a bit.

The result is the recipe below, and I even impressed myself with this one, and it’s totally fucking easy.  While a normal pot pie might be a “cold weather” dish, this Chicken Curry Pot Pie is a year round option.  It’s easy to make, savory, and delicious, to be sure.  Better yet, this is not that bad for you.  It has around 14 grams of fat a serving (500 calories or something), and if you notice the ingredients, they’re not bad.  Other pot pies are loaded with butter, but these are rich without the fat.

Chicken Curry Pot Pies

Makes 4 in oven-proof small baking dishes (they should hold 2 cups  or so each)

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. curry powder

2 cups peeled, diced potatoes

1 cup chopped onion

3/4 cup chopped carrots

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite size pieces (1/2″ cubes)

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 cup sliced mushrooms

3/4 cup thawed frozen green peas

1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

2 tbsp. cornstarch

3 tbsp. water

1/2 cup low fat cream cheese (1/2 of a brick)

1 box of store bought pie crusts (this was a shortcut that totally paid off), or a recipe to make 2 pie crusts

1 egg, beaten

Makin’ It:

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the curry powder and let it get happy for a minute as you stir it in and get a paste-y thing going.  Add the potatoes, onion, carrots, garlic, and chicken.  Cook this, stirring often like stir fry, for about five to seven minutes to get the chicken done. Then add in the broth, mushrooms, peas, apple , salt, and pepper.  Get it bubbling, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook it for another 5 minutes until the mushrooms are a bit juicy.

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water, whisking it to mix it well.  Add this and the cream cheese to the veggies and chicken skillet.  Mix this and cook it until the cream cheese is melted and it’s all thickened.  This is easy peasy.

Divide the filling evenly between the four bowls.  Brush the rims and sides of the bowls with the beaten egg.  Unroll the pie crusts (or roll out the pie crusts until they’re  about 11″ in diameter), and, using a similar bowl to measure roughly, cut out circles that will overhang the pie bowls about an inch or two.  You will need to roll together the scraps and cut the last two crusts from it.  Drape this over the bowls and press the dough onto the rim and the sides of each bowl.

Brush the dough on each pie with the rest of the egg wash.  Cut a few slits into each pie to let the steam escape.  Put the pies on a baking sheet (it catches the bubbly filling that might spill over) and put them in the oven for 30 minutes, until the tops are golden and gorgeous, like this:

Curried Chicken Pot Pie 001

And when you put your fork into it, it will look like this:

Curried Chicken Pot Pie 011

I’m not kidding when I say that this was one of the easiest pies I’ve ever made, and one of the most unbelievably bitchin’ ones I’ve ever tasted.  If you make this for company, everybody’s happy as long as they like curry.

Enjoy.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013

Toffee for Idiots, or Men’s Toffee

30 Dec

Toffee 005

Today is a lazy Saturday.  The sky swells with clouds, the clouds billow with expectant rain, the wind whistles through the leaves, my nerves shake as I deal with my four-year-old whining about everything, and the veins in my temples pulsate as I notice that this kid has made massive dents in our best piece of furniture and has put chisel marks in the oak cabinets in our dining room.  Thus, I look forward to cocktail hour, dinner, heroin, and maybe some dessert.

When I started writing this blog a few months ago, I made a very breakable vow to never write about desserts or cookies or cakes or cupcakes or anything that someone with actual artistic ability makes.  I’m a guy.  I can frost a cake out of the box, I’ve even made a pie or two (and “seen my head (grown slightly bald), brought in upon a platter”), but the end result is a sheer utilitarian dessert: it will taste awesome, but it will look like I made it on the 405 during rush hour. No, I will leave dessert to those who make it their life’s work, who make beautiful treats for people like me to buy.

But then I came across this recipe in a totally bitchin’ cookbook.  Some years ago, one of my best friends, Tree, who then lived in Birmingham, Alabama, bought me a book called Tables of Content (you can order it on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Tables-Content-Junior-League-Birmingham/dp/0977468801).  It is a compilation of recipes from members of the Junior League of Birmingham, Alabama, so you know it has to be damn good.  I am probably the only person in California with this cookbook, and I am lucky to have found many great recipes in it.  Its recipes are 100% from southern women, so you can imagine its beauty.

I often tell my students when I give them an outline to write an essay that it’s “idiot-proof,” meaning that they can’t not do it correctly if they follow the directions (whether they follow the directions is another story).  This is an example of an idiot-proof recipe that’s sure to please.  It’s perfect for a man to make because, well, a lot of us are idiots, to be sure.

Toffee for Idiots, or Men’s Toffee

Ingredients:

3/4 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1 tsp. salt

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup more of chopped pecans

Makin’ It (You won’t believe this.  I didn’t until I made it.):

In a 9″ buttered (or greased) round baking dish, sprinkle the 3/4 cup of pecans  on the bottom evenly.

Use some of the butter to grease the sides of a 2 to 2 1/2 quart glass (pyrex) bowl.  Put the remaining butter in the bowl.  Add the sugar, the water, and the salt. Don’t stir it.  Microwave this on high for 9 to 11 minutes (it took me 9) or until the mixture just begins to turn light brown.

Using care and oven mitts, pour this mixture over the pecans in the baking dish.  Sprinkle the chocolate chips over it and spread them evenly with a knife.  Top with a 1/2 cup of pecans, pressing them into it if you need to.  Chill this in the fridge until it’s firm, about an hour. Seriously be careful with the dish that was in the microwave because it will scorch you if you’re not careful.

After it’s chilled, you should get this:

Toffee 007

Break it into pieces in a manly fashion and enjoy.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

p.s. This is my made-up title. In the book, it’s called “Our Favorite Toffee.”

Rib Roast and Yorkshire Pudding for a Night of Good Wine

23 Dec

Rib Roast 2

Christmas is two days away, so the smell of roasting meat should be in many homes all over the world.  Deals for good cuts of meat and large birds abound throughout the marketplace, as well as people whistling, smiling, giving the finger to people who drive slowly or park in stupid places, telling the Salvation Army guy to piss off…ah!  the spirit of Christmas!

The picture above is of a 5+ pound rib roast that I made last night for my family and our friend Marcy, who owns the famous Big Belly Deli in Newport Beach (if you haven’t been there, go and you’ll be a regular).  She has a knack for bringing up some pretty fancy wines, and last night was no different.  It is also the reason that I write this post today rather than right after I made it, like I normally do.

I think about my late mom every day of my life, and this is especially true during Christmas.  This was her season, and she could have faced up to Martha Stewart with aplomb any day of the week.  My mom’s favorite meal was prime rib, and Christmas was one of the times she made it.  It’s so simple to make and such a crowd-pleaser.  When I went outside to find my child in the afternoon, I reentered the house to the wafting aroma of beef roasting with salt and pepper.  I welled up a bit for the memories, of course, but mostly because I was going to eat that damn beast in a few hours with Yorkshire pudding.

One last thing:  in yesterday’s preparation, I made a major mistake on the Yorkshire pudding, that I will explain later.  Did it piss me off?  Yes it did.  Did it ruin my evening?  No, it didn’t.  But I will splay my stupidity before you on Dinner with Jonny to make a point:  fucking up during a special meal happens, and while ’tis disconcerting, I’ve learned to move past it very quickly, make my apologies (which are seldom needed), and continue drinking wine like a medieval lord.

Rib Roast

Ingredients:

a 5 to 10 lb. bone in rib roast

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons pepper

Makin’ It:

Preheat the oven to 450°.

Rub the rib roast all over with the salt and pepper.  Set the rib roast bone side down in a baking pan or dish that’s big enough to hold it well.  You did it!  Sing the Dora song!

For about 30 minutes, roast that guy at 450°.  After 30 minutes, turn the oven heat down to 350°.  Cook it at this temperature for (according to Emeril) 18 minutes per pound for rare and 22 minutes a pound for medium.  I wanted in between that, and I had a 5 pound roast, so I guessed 20 minutes a pound, which turned out to be 1 hour 20 minutes.  It came out medium, too, which was perfect.  I took the roast out of the oven and transitioned it to a serving dish.  I let it rest for about 30 minutes while I made the Yorkshire Pudding. When you’re ready, slice thinly and serve.

Yorkshire Pudding:

Note:  Before I tell you the recipe (which I got from Alton Brown on foodtv.com), I will tell you how and why I flubbed this one.  A Yorkshire pudding, if you didn’t know, is an oven baked pancake thingie made with the leftover beef drippings from the baking pan.  I had salted and peppered the roast generously in the baking pan (rather than on a cutting board), so all of the excess salt and pepper was at the bottom of the baking dish.  Thinking that I’m hot shit, I decided to put the batter directly into the baking pan, which would have worked had not so much salt been in the pan.  The result was awesome in texture, and my sodium intake for the next week is covered.  It was bloody salty and I was quite bummed because that is what I look forward to when eating prime rib.  Alas.  SO, if you make this, either make sure the roasting pan is not all salted up, or use a different pan altogether.

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp. salt

4 eggs as close to room temp as you can get them

2 cups milk

1/4 beef drippings, divided

Makin’ It:

Heat the oven up to 400°.

Take 2 tablespoons of the drippings and put them in the pan you will be using for the pudding.  Put it in the oven to get it smoking hot as you make the pudding batter.

In a food processor, blender, or with a quick-whisking arm, blend all of the ingredients plus the other 2 tablespoons of beef drippings.  It should be a bubbly fluffy batter when it’s ready (in a processor or blender, about 30 seconds).  When the drippings and the pan are hot enough, pour this batter into the pan, like this:

Yorkshire Pudding 1

Bake this 30 to 40 minutes while your roast rests.  When it’s done, it’ll look like this:

Yorkshire Pudding 2

(Mine could have been browner on top, to be honest)

Cut this into slices and serve immediately with the meat and the juices from it.

Horseradish Mustard Sauce (this is based on Ina Garten’s “Sunday Rib Roast” recipe)

Ingredients:

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup sour cream

3 tablespoons dijon mustard

1 1/2 tablespoons whole grain mustard

3 tablespoons prepared horseradish (less if you’re scared of horseradish)

1/4 tsp. salt

Makin’ It:

Mix all of the ingredients together well and let it chill in the fridge for a while until you’re ready to serve.

Horseradish Mustard Sacuce

Serve this with the roast beef slices.

Drinks!  Holy mother of god did we have good wine with this:

Stags Leap Justin Daou

Stags Leap 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon:  This needed to open up in a decanter for a while.  In fact, we all agreed that it needed to not be opened for some years, but it worked well with the food after it aired a bit.  It’s got a lot of tannins and pepper.  Very full bodied.

Justin Temperanillo:  This wine brought me to my knees.  If you get the pleasure of ever trying this, embrace the opportunity.  If you like European reds, this is for you.  Well balanced, peppery, but tempered with a good plum-ness.

Daou Reserve Zinfandel:  Again, just a testicle masseuse of a wine. Big berry flavors but light on the palate.

The exact details of each wine are bit hazy today, truth be told.  Still, I remember feeling more jubilent as the evening wore on…

All three just made this meal a memorable one, but the company of my wife, kid, and Marcy made it unforgettable.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino, 2012