Friday, December 28, 2007
Two People and Half a Cow
Now there are about 1001 things I love about living in this city, but I have to say the best is living just around the corner from Murray's Cheese and from two of the city's best butcher shops - Faicco's and Florence Meat Market.
Faicco's on Bleecker is not unlike stepping into a butcher shop in Italy, complete with flirtatious Italian men behind the counter who act like they'd slice up their co worker up for you if you asked them to.
Florence is even more old world, or old school - so tiny you can barely squeeze yourself past the chopping block by the front door. Plus there's sawdust on the floor to make it even more of an experience.
Going there on Christmas Eve to pick up my Prime Rib, I got a little emotional. I was the youngest person in there by about thirty years and I got the distinct impression that the other customers had been going there for at least that long. People were coming in left and right handing the owner and two ladies behind the counter bottles of Christmas wine and liquor wrapped in festive ribbons. While I waited, I studied the many newspaper articles and awards on the wall behind me. Apparently they shipped their prime rib all over the world. And I was lucky enough to just walk a block to pick one up.
But back to the beef. Let's get something straight. On the phone, I had asked them for the smallest Prime Rib roast I could get (it was just for Kris and I) that would still be considered a roast. "No problem," they'd said. We'll have a nice two rib roast for you."
Well, as I stood there waiting for my petite two ribber, I noticed one of the butchers wrapping up what was no less than half of a small cow with butcher paper. "Wow," I thought to myself. "That's a lot of meat."
Imagine my surprise when they handed it over to me, along with the price written write on it - $82. The whole staff beamed proudly and expectedly at me, and in a very Seinfeld moment, I handed over my credit card and paid then ducked out the door, too embarrased to protest the size and price, with them still smiling excitedly at me.
Kris wasn't too thrilled about our new 'investment', but it was Christmas so by default he wasn't allowed to say anything.
On Christmas day, I set out 'the cow' on my new butcher block (thanks dad!) to come to room temperature. After the turkey debacle on Thanksgiving, nothing was going to ruin this wonderful, once a year holiday treat.
Meanwhile, I made up the marinade. I had researched about 400 rubs and marinades for Prime Rib - from the kosher salt crust you break off before eating to the traditional horseradish and garlic to the simplest (and some say the best) salt and pepper. I went with none and all of them, creating my own. And since I don't usually measure as I cook, here's what I recall it being to the best of my knowledge:
Alisa's Cow Rub:
2 cloves garlic, chopped and smashed to a pasty constistency
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 tsps sugar
1 tsp hot English dry mustard (Coleman's)
2 1/2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 tspn prepared horseradish
1 very large (nearly small onion sized) shallot, minced (my guess is 3 tablespoons, give our take)
3-4 tablespoons olive oil (enough to make a spreadable mixture of it all but not too much that it won't stick to meat)
few grounds of fresh cracked pepper
Smear mixture ALL over prime rib, including bones and fat, nooks and crannies.
Allow meat to 'marinate' at least one hour with its new dress clothes on (if longer just stick it in fridge removing at least one hour before roasting again.)
Now it was time to roast this mythical, massive thing. The marinade smelled so good it had already filled up the whole house with a sweet yet savory rosemary perfume. All I had to do was salt it by liberally sprinkling a tablespoon and a half of kosher over my former farm resident.
I put it in the oven and let it go for twenty minutes at at 425 then reduced it to 350 for an hour and checked it. Though the crust was lovely and golden, it was still pretty much rare flesh internally at that point so I put it back in for another 45 minutes, until the outer pieces were medium and the inner medium rare (I understand cooking any part of a prime rib to medium makes us unworthy of eating prime rib in some circles, but at $82, we were going to eat it any damn way we pleased.)
Finally, I pulled it out and let it rest for twenty minutes while I sauteed my blanched asparagus and re-heated my roast potatoes (which will be featured in another post.)
At last we set down to eat. I'm not sure if it was the marinade or the cut of beef or both, but Lordie oh Lordie this was the most incredible Prime Rib ever.
Merry Christmas indeed.