They say you always remember your first time. I’ll certainly remember this dinner, the first time I made a prime rib roast. The meal was memorable, not just because it was a first, but also because the star, the rib roast, was perfection and all else turned out so well.
But why did I, a devotee of red meats with a particular fondness for rib roast, finally do a rib roast? Here is the back story. First, I’ve recently become a fan of the rib-eye steaks at Pastosa on Forest Ave. Then, my friends Pete and Mie told me about the very pleasant experience they had in assembling a gift basket for a fund raiser, thanks to the helpful staff, especially Junior, at Pastosa’s. They mentioned salivating at the gorgeous rib-eye steaks and a very thick one which, I guessed, was a rib roast with bone removed. Coincidentally, I had also seen and admired it. I couldn’t resist; I had to do a rib roast dinner.
The rib roast was superb. Shawn, Pastosa’s butcher, was very helpful. He asked if I wanted it boned so that it would be easy to slice. No, I said, horror stricken, commenting that meat always has a richer flavor when roasted with the bone. He agreed and then suggested that he cut the roast from the bone but then tie the bone back to the body of the roast. After roasting, you remove the ties and separate the bones from the body of the roast. The meat’s flavor is enhanced by the bone and slicing is easy - and was made even easier because Shawn made marks for a cutting guide.
I used a recipe from the Internet which appeared to guarantee a flavorful result and indeed, it did https://www.recipetineats.com/standing-rib-roast/#wprm-recipe-container-32890. The roast was placed on a bed of quartered onion, a head of garlic, thyme and rosemary. The roast was slathered and basted with a garlic/herb (rosemary, thyme) butter, and roasted at a high temperature (460F) for 20 minutes, then at 250F for about 1 1/2 hours. The finished roast was wonderful - very rich in taste and soft as butter as prime meat should be. It suited all tastes: the outside slices went to those who like their meat medium or medium rare; the middle went to those, like me, who love very rare.
In planning the dinner, I deviated from the usual by not having a theme, decreasing the number of guests (only 5) and asking each household to make a culinary contribution. Mie did an appetizer. Stylish and sumptuous, it was a hit - carefully prepared shrimp topped with broccoli and doused in an Asian-style mayonnaise, then nestled on a single large leaf of Brussels sprouts.
One appetizer is never enough to feed and foster lively conversation, even when, as then, the talk is buoyed by Champagne. Also on the menu: fresh fig halves, wrapped in bacon and drenched in maple syrup, along with Midnight Moon, an aged goat’s milk cheese with a flavor that’s nutty, buttery and caramelly (forgive the neologism, please). From Pastosa on Forest Ave., of course, because they have the best selection of cheeses on Staten Island and they know their stuff.
Next - soup. Ariemma’s on Hylan Boulevard had deep-red peppers full of flavor; they seemed just right for an early fall dinner. I sautéed the peppers with onion, garlic, herbs and small amounts of cumin and coriander; simmered that with vegetable stock and white wine (3:1), processed it until smooth and reheated it with a small amount of heavy cream to balance the spices. Tasty!
Catherine contributed her perfect scalloped potatoes to the main course. Though not a lover of potatoes, I adore Catherine’s; she has a magic touch with spuds, as she demonstrated for this dinner. I prepared Brussels sprouts roasted with garlic and oil and topped with shredded Parmesan cheese. They turned out well, being caramelized top and bottom.
Dessert was grand! Phil, whose wife was in Greenland at the time, brought a gluten-rich chocolate cake (‘cause gluten foods are off their usual menu). Catherine added a raspberry cheesecake, imported from Long Island, because, she said, it was SO luscious. And it was.
All in all, a successful evening. The food played a role and so did Pete who has a knack for opening up conversation on potent topics that stimulate everyone’s minds. Following dessert, the conversation went on for two more hours as we grappled with some of Pete’s ideas about the nature of reality - a wonderful workout for our brains. Of course, our workout required lubricating our throats. Fortunately, plenty of wine and liqueurs were present to do the job. Eventually, fatigued me had to call an end or we might have gone on for another two hours. Definitely, a memorable evening.
RIB ROAST DINNER
Mie’s Marvelous Shrimp Broccoli with Soy Mayo
Fig Wrapped in Bacon, Drenched with Maple Syrup
Midnight Moon Cheese with Baguette Slices
Mixed Nuts & Cerengnola Olives
Spicy Red Pepper
Prime Rib Roast and Red Wine Sauce
Catherine’s Perfect Scalloped Potatoes
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan Cheese
Phil’s Gluten-Rich Chocolate Cake
Catherine’s Raspberry Cheesecake
Chocolates and Praline Pecans