Friday, July 24, 2015

Smoked Prime-Rib Roast! (Wooo, Prime-Rib, YAY for Prime Rib!)

What is "Prime-Rib" anyway?  Well, first consider the awesome Ribeye steak.  Where did it come from?  If you follow a cow's ribs from the belly all the way up to the spine, you'll find a roast up there, clinging to that line of rib bones.  If you were to take that roast off of the bones and slice it laterally, you'd be cutting Ribeye steaks.  If you kept that roast whole, you'd have a "Rib-Roast."  If that Rib-Roast were graded as "Prime" by the USDA, you'd have a "Prime Rib Roast."  Cook that, slice it, and you'll be serving Prime Rib!

A whole Rib-Roast is an expensive piece of meat.  You can save a bit of $$ if you buy a "Choice" one (rather than Prime), and you'll save even more if you buy it from a warehouse store like Costco.  Either way, it's worth the cash, as long as you don't screw it up.  How do you do it right?

You Will Need:
  • 1 whole Rib-Roast (I bought a whole 7-bone roast, but you can ask the butcher to cut a 3 or 4-bone chunk if you don't need that much meat.
  • Olive Oil
  • All-Purpose BBQ Rub, or Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • Temperature Probe (REQUIRED)
For the Horseradish Cream & Mushroom Sauce (pictured above)
  • 1 Medium sized Vidallia Onion
  • 1.5lbs of sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 3 Cloves Garlic (crushed and diced)
  • Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp Cornstarch
  • 2 Cups Beef Broth
  • 6 Tbsp Prepared Horseradish (not the sauce, the pure horseradish)
  • 3/4 Cup Sour Cream
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
Let's begin.  Take it out of the cryo-vac pack and pat it dry with some paper towels.  Just look at it!  It's HUGE!"  I know... settle down.  If you look carefully at this picture, near the bottom-left part of the Ribeye that's staring you in the face, you'll see a golf-ball sized portion of meat, surrounded by a ring of fat.  See it?  That line of fat is where you need to insert your knife to cut down the length of the bones (unless you bought a boneless rib roast, then you can proceed past this part).

Flip the roast over, and start your cut at one end. If you follow the line of fat correctly, this should be a very easy cut to make.  Then, cut from the tips of the bones back toward the roast, so that a neat rectangle of meat and fat pulls away from the tips of the bones.  Save this!  Cut it into smaller squares and use it later to supplement your beef stew, chili, or whatever.

Now, notice that the bones are connected to each other with little squares of meat.  Cut these out as well.  This technique is called "Frenching" and it can take some time, depending on how cleanly you want to present your bones at the table.  I like to use dental floss (yes, floss) to literally floss them them clean.  Just wrap the floss around the base of the bone, grab the ends and PULL!

Once you've frenched the bones, take some cotton butcher's twine and tie some tight loops between the bones.  The roast will swell up a bit during the cooking and you'll want her to stay together, all nice and tight!  To prep the roast for the smoker, simply rub it down with Olive Oil, and shake on a good salt-based rub.  Montreal Steak Seasoning works very well, but I made my own rub with some Kosher Salt, Chipotle Chili Powder, Cracked Black Pepper, and a touch of Brown Sugar.  Use whatever you like but don't be shy!  This is a huge honking chunk of beef and it needs salt and spices!

Insert a digital probe thermometer so that the tip is in the center of the meat.  I prefer the method shown here, to the method of jamming the probe into the end of the roast.  Why?  Because I don't want to see a little hole in my steak later when I slice and serve!  Do you need a digital probe thermometer?  YES!  You just spent about $175 on a piece of meat.  Why risk ruining it over a $20 oven-safe digital thermometer?  Crazy.  Go get one!  Do NOT listen to your ego say, "You're a man, you will know when it's done when it's done" or whatever.  It's about the perfect piece of Prime Rib, not about your Neanderthal heritage.

Leave this roast on your counter-top until it comes up to room temperature.  Otherwise, you'll burn the outside before the inside is done properly.  When the inside of this roast hits 60 or higher, it's safe to start cooking.

I got my smoker running right at 250 degrees when I put this roast on.  I set the temperature alarm for 125.  The alarm went off exactly 3 hours and 37 minutes later.  Will that amount of time work for your roast?  Maybe... The only way to know for SURE is with your thermometer.  When it touches 125, pull it out of the smoker and wrap it in 2 or 3 layers of tinfoil and then place it in the bottom of a good cooler.  Close the lid.  Let it rest in there for at least 45 minutes.  The temperature will clime another 10 degrees, in fact, mine climbed up to 138 before it was finished resting.  138 is the perfect Medium Rare.

After the rest, I sliced her open.  Hallelujah, Saints be praised!  She's a perfect medium rare!  And look, someone left a bottle of Basil Hayden Bourbon on my cutting board!  How'd that get there?

All that's left now is to slice the portions (I like one bone per portion) and serve it with a nice horseradish cream sauce.  Maybe with some mushrooms??

OH... wait; did someone say "Sauce?"  Here's my sauce recipe:

  1. In the biggest saute or frying pan you have, saute the onion (diced) with the garlic until the onions are clear.
  2. While the saute is going, mix the cornstarch with 1.5 cups of cold beef broth.  Why cold?  It's the only way you'll get the corn starch to mix well without clumping.  Use a whisk and beat the crap out of it.
  3. Stir the broth into the saute and add the horseradish.
  4. Add the mushrooms.
  5. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until the mushrooms cook down and the liquid reduces and thickens.
  6. Kill the heat and stir in the sour cream.
  7. Finish with several grinds of fresh pepper.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Sweet & Spicy Smoked Hunks of Bacon!

Bacon, as most of us know, comes from pork bellies.  As you can probably imagine, they process thousands of bellies at the bacon factory.  During this processing, there are many ends, pieces, and stray hunks of bacon that fall by the wayside.  Well, some angel sent from heaven grabbed the floor manager and implored him, "PLEASE, if we collect and save all of these stray hunks of bacon, we could SELL them at a discount!"  Thanks to that wonderful angel, we can now find this at the store:

With a tiny bit of work, you can turn that... into THIS!!  How does a big pan-load of thick hunks of bacon, flavored with maple, brown sugar, agave, and spicy Chipotle goodness sound?
Don't we all want that?

You will need:
  • 3lbs of Bacon ends, pieces, and random hunks
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • Generous "burp" of pure Maple Syrup
  • Generous "burp" of Agave Syrup
  • 2 Tsp fresh ground Black Pepper
  • 3 Tsp fresh Chipotle Chili Powder
  • Generous squirt of your favorite BBQ Sauce
Open the package of bacon and dump onto your cutting board and give it a look.  You'll see all kinds of bacony goodness.  Thick strands, lean pieces, Marbled hunks of fat... it's all good!  Use a sharp filet knife to cut everything into oversized bites.  Bacon shrinks a little when you cook it, so be sure to cut things down to a size that might be slightly larger than you'd be comfortable shoving into your mouth (like that's possible).

When everything is cut to fairly uniform hunks, dump them into a foil "half pan" where you'll add the "yum".  Take off your wedding ring and remove any other jewelry from your hands, because things are about to get messy...

Sprinkle on the brown sugar, then add the rest of the ingredients.  If you can't find Agave syrup at the store, don't fret, just use a bit more Maple syrup.  Agave syrup is derived from the same Agave cactus plants that give us Tequila!  "Tequila and bacon," you say?  Hell yes!  Actually, Agave syrup doesn't taste like Tequila at all, it caries a fairly complex yet very sweet flavor though, so it's worth looking for at the store.  Most of the world's Agave plants live in Mexico, hence you'll probably find it in the "Mexican Food" section.

Now, get your hands in there and get messy!  Squeeze, mix, swirl, turn over, spread, and pinch everything together until you feel the brown sugar dissolving, and you have a big pan full of awesome bacony wonder that looks like this:

Wash your bacony hands.  Wash them twice, and be sure to clean under your nails because day-old bacon that you smell under nails in the morning is about as bad as bacon can be... slip the pan onto your smoker, to the right of the pork shoulder that you just wrapped.  If you don't have a pork shoulder, it's ok.  I happened to have one when I took the picture (it was delicious).

Close the lid to your smoker and run the temp at 225 degrees for two more hours.  The whole back yard will smell like BBQ and Bacon, it's pretty remarkable.  Your neighbors will start sniffing around... tell them to "Go away!" (unless they bring beer offerings).  When the bacon is done, it will look like this!  It doesn't get any better than this...

These are amazing on just about any sammich, or just popped into your mouth.  You can also chop them up and sprinkle them into salads, on top of baked potatoes, or over freshly grilled shrimp with garlic butter sauce.

NOTE:  Somebody already asked me, "Can I do these in the oven if I don't have a smoker?"  I suppose.  Just put them into the oven at 375 for about 45 minutes.  They'll still be good, just not as "smokey."  This is exactly the kind of thing you can use to justify the purchase of a smoker in the future though... "But, but, honey-pookums, wouldn't you enjoy some SMOKED bacon, hmm?"