The Not So Perfect Prime Rib Cook

A message left for me from my Uncle David.
A message left for me from my Uncle David.

     Lord knows not all my cooks come out right. Well…maybe that might be a bit presumptuous. He probably doesn’t care how my cooks go. But my family and close friends know they don’t always go right or according to plan. This particular cook turned out fine fantastic if my family is to be believed. It just didn’t go quite as planned. Now don’t get me wrong. The prime rib turned out fine, it was my timing of the cook that was totally off, but we’ll get to that soon enough.

13.98lb bone in prime rib!
13.98lb bone in prime rib!

     For many, Christmas time is a time for family and friends to spend time together. To bask in the love of others we are so blessed to have in our life. And when you get people together, food is always an important part of it. Showing your love for others by feeding them (both physically and emotionally). At least that’s the way it is in our family. This year, I decided to step it up and take some of the burden off my Mom by volunteering to cook the main entrée. Nobody wants to be stuck in the kitchen all day on Christmas cooking. 

Mmmm...look at all that meaty goodness!
Mmmm…look at all that meaty goodness!

     This year we decided to do a prime rib. Seems like for more and more people, prime rib is the way to go for Christmas dinner. And of course, you know we had to do it on the Egg! Which involved a trip over to their house earlier in the week to get it there and all set up. Let me tell you, these things are HEAVY!

Were you aware that it snowed on Christmas Day in Dallas?
All set and ready to go at my parents house. Were you aware that it snowed on Christmas Day in Dallas?

     Before you get to thinking that I know everything about grilling and smoking and cooking in general, let me just clear that up for you. I don’t. Far from it. I have no culinary training, just a passion for making good food. And enough sense to know when I don’t know how to do something and when it is time to seek out some help. You see, I have only cooked one prime rib in my life. Last year. And it was smaller. And it was done in the oven. So this was new territory for me. So I asked and asked and asked on The Egghead Forum everything I could possibly ask. And then I asked some more until I figured I could stumble my way through this cook.

The prime rib all seasoned up and ready for the Egg.
The prime rib all seasoned up and ready for the Egg.

     For this cook, I kept it pretty simple. I wanted the meat to be the star and to shine through. That being said, there’s not a lot of surface area as compared to interior on a prime rib. So rubbed it down with some canola oil (to help the spices stick) and then sprinkled on some coarse Kosher salt, some fresh cracked black pepper, freshly chopped garlic and finished off with a light dusting of Dizzy Pig’s Cow Lick (which is a steak seasoning).

On to the Egg with the prime rib
On to the Egg with the prime rib

     The Egg was set up to cook at 250F using my new Adjustable Rig from the Ceramic Grill Store that my In-Laws had gotten me for Christmas. I just had to break in my new toy. If you don’t have an Adjustable Rig, you can use your place setter (legs up) and set your grate on top of that. If using another grill or smoker, set it up for an indirect cook just like you would for brisket, ribs or pork butts. I did toss in one hickory chunk, but for the most part wanted this to be pretty much a smokeless cook. I didn’t want heavy smoke to overpower the meat. (I may or may not have a post in the next week or so on what the Adjustable Rig is and what it’s for. Let me know if you are interested in that)

Mmmm....drool.
Mmmm….drool.

     From what I am told (and my limited experience), prime rib is not a difficult cut of meat to cook. Nothing like a brisket. You just need to make sure not to overcook it. It’s supposed to be on the medium rare side with lots of pink (although if you want to cook it further, feel free to do so). The only hard part about it is figuring out the cooking time.

     From my research, it didn’t seem like there was a rule of thumb for how long it would take (like pork butts which should take an hour and half to two hours per pound). What I was told, or came to understand, was that it would take about 2.5 to 3 hours to cook at 250F. My plan was to cook it indirectly at that 250 until it reached an internal temperature of 115F. At that point, I would pull the prime rib off the Egg and wrap it in foil. Then, I would remove the adjustable rig, place the grate directly on the Egg, open the vents and raise the temperature to 500-550F. When it reached that temperature, I would unwrap the prime rib, return it to the Egg and sear it until the temperature hits 130. At this point, I was planning to remove the prime rib, loosely tent it in foil and let it rest for 30 minutes and the temperature would climb to 135.

Reverse searing the prime rib
Reverse searing the prime rib

     Everything seemed to be going according to plan. I cooked it until it hit 115. I pulled it and set the egg up to sear the prime rib. Schedule wise, we looked great. I started to sear the prime rib and this is where it started going wrong for us. Fat was dripping off the prime rib, smoke was pouring out the top of the Egg, if you opened it to check, flames would shoot up! But it was starting to look great. It was developing a nice outer bark, the color looked amazing, the smell was out of this world. I wasn’t quite sure how long it was supposed to sear, though. And that was my mistake. I never asked how long the sear was supposed to be. I began to get worried about overcooking the prime rib. I began to worry about burning the outside. I let it go as long as I dared, I think maybe 5 minutes and pulled it off, wrapped it in foil and began to let it rest. As we were waiting, I had a probe thermometer in it. It started to slowly creep up. 117…118…119. Oh no….this does not look good! This can’t be right! This is under done! I can’t serve it like this!

Pulled (for the second time) and resting.
Pulled (for the second time) and resting.

     I’m starting to get nervous, panic is creeping in, something has to be done. At least it wasn’t overcooked. So I sucked it up, bolstered up my nerves with a bit more bourbon (did I not mention I had a few already?), set the Egg back up for an indirect cook and threw that hunk of beef back on. And let it cook. When it finally hit 130, I pulled it off (yet again) and let it rest. Let me tell you, the natives were not happy and were growing restless. Dinner was supposed to be ready at 4:30…5 at the latest and here we were waiting on the meat. Meat that was on the counter and was as far as they knew ready to cut. 17 people! I did some talking, I did some explaining and tried to stretch it out and after 15 LONG minutes (it was 5:30 at this point), I gave in and began to carve, nervous as hell, hoping and praying I didn’t screw it up.

Sliced and to my relief not over done.
Sliced and to my relief not over done.

    I know the picture does not do it the justice it deserves. Not used to taking pictures in my Mom’s kitchen…with 17 hungry people breathing down my neck. It was pinker than it looks in the picture. Take my word for it…or don’t. We served it up with some au jus (see bottom of post), horseradish cream sauce, garlic-chive mashed taters, green bean casserole, the Pioneer Woman’s 9 hour mushrooms, broccoli and other stuff I can’t recall right now.

The feeding masses
The feeding masses

     If family can be believed, it was well worth the wait. Including me, there were 18 people and only one minor complaint. One of my uncles (and I’m not sure if he was kidding) said prime rib should be able to cut with just a fork. Of course, this is my uncle that won’t eat pink meat at all and took the end piece, so yeah, it may have been more done, but that’s the piece he picked and there’s no accounting for some people’s taste.

A personal message to me.
A personal message to me.

     Do you recall this picture from the beginning of the post? That was a note that was left for me from my Uncle David, stuck under the cutting board where the prime rib was resting. Think it was some type of hint? He drew that from scratch. I think I’ll be keeping that as a memento.

     So when all was said and done, family was well fed and happy and we got to spend a wonderful day together. I’ve relearned to never cook something new for a group for the first time. Always do a trial run, although if you can’t practice on family, who can you practice on? I’ve decided in the future, I will probably do boneless prime ribs. And after doing some more research, I learned that the sear should have taken anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes per side (20 minutes being the minimum). Live and learn, right?

     Even though it is late, from me and mine, I would like to wish everybody a Merry Christmas. I hope that everybody out there was able to spend time with family and loved ones and had a wonderful and safe holiday.

Simple Au Jus

Ingredients

  • 20 ounces of beef stock
  • 1 package of Lipton Onion Soup Mix
  • 3 Tbsp of butter
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp of dried rosemary
  • 1 or 2 tbsp of drippings from prime rib

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil
  2. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes
  3. Strain au jus and serve with prime rib
     
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An Early Christmas Present

Christmas came early!
Christmas came early!

     A buddy of ours stopped off on his way home from work to drop off a Christmas present tonight. I think he’s under the assumption that I like bacon and bourbon….he’s right!! Thanks, Matt. You rock!!

Happy Monday!!

What Stormtroopers do on their day off.
What Stormtroopers do on their day off.

If you are like me (and most normal people), Monday is not your favorite day of the week, so I thought I’d bring you a little humor to make it a little more bearable. So what’s going on your grill or smoker tonight?

Our First Deep Dish Pizza

Deep Dish Pizza
Deep Dish Pizza

     A pizza argument is something I shouldn’t get involved in. Chicago vs New York. Deep dish vs thin. Neopolitan vs Sicilian. What’s the best? I don’t know. I have never been to New York and tried their pizzas. Nor have I been to Chicago. I know there are die hard cult like followings of both and I wouldn’t want to offend any of them. Speaking of…this might not be a true deep dish pizza, but it sure was good AHH-Mazing!! That much, at least, I can tell ya.

     A recent trend on the Egghead Forum has been deep dish pizzas (at least that is what they are calling them). And I think one of the main reason’s was Zippylip’s Mushroom Lovers Deep Dish Pizza (you really should check it out). Ever since that post, people have been making them like crazy and I knew I had to try my hand at one as well.

Ingredients for dough
Ingredients for dough

     I’m not going to get into the dough recipe. I’m no expert by far, but Zippylip has a great write up with pictures HERE that will walk you through it and here is a condensed version:

Batch of Zippylip Dough 

1) Combine 1.5 cups of cold water, 3 cups of bread flour, 1 teaspoon of yeast and 1 teaspoon of salt; 
2) Mix with a spoon for a few seconds to eliminate any large pools of water; 
3) Let stand for 20 minutes; 
4) Mix on medium for 20 minutes (it will be very soupy, don’t worry); 
5) Turn off, cover, let stand for another 20 minutes; 
6) Turn mixer back on & add up to 1 additional cup of flour (about 1 tablespoon at a time) allowing it to incorporate. Repeat this until you get the consistency you are looking for (it should be pulling away from the bowl, yet still be sticky enough so that it is a pain in the ass to get out of the bowl); 
7) Remove from bowl, cut into individual pieces (2 for 2-16 inch pies, 3 for 3-12 inch pies, or 4 for 4-12 inch thin-crust pies or 2 deep dish pizzas in a 10.5″ Cast Iron Skillet); 
8) Place in separate oiled plastic containers & cover; 
9) Refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours and up to 4 days; 
10) Remove about 2 hours before you are ready to use; 
11) When removing from the bowl, be patient, it will want to stay in the bowl, this is normal; 
12) On a floured surface, gently shape the dough (due to the higher moisture content, this dough will be harder to work with than more typical dough, so be careful not to tear it – tossing will not likely be possible); 

     I will say that you may need to play around with the water and flour ratio to get it just right, will probably depend on your location and weather conditions. I had to add more water to get the soupy consistency mentioned in step 4.

     So you’ve made your dough, you’ve let it rise in the fridge for 24 hours at least (I know, seems like a long time and a lot of work, but it’s worth it, I promise) and you’ve pulled the dough out and are ready to get started. Take out a 10.5″ cast iron skillet. Add oil just enough to coat the bottom (I used canola oil), then turn over your plastic container holding the dough and let it fall into the skillet. That’s it, don’t shape the dough, don’t knead it, don’t stretch it out. It will do that on its own. (Step 12 is more for a hand tossed pizza or a thin crust.) Now its time to let the dough rise at room temperature. But wait…it’s winter right now. I don’t know about you, but I know our house isn’t warm like in the summer. So what do you do? Turn the light on in your oven and place  the dough as close to it as possible. It will generate just the right amount of heat to allow it to rise. Trust me on this one.

My dough after rising in the oven for 3 hours (I know it said 2, but I had to go to a doctor's appointment and then the store. I'm sure two will be fine)
My dough after rising in the oven for 3 hours (I know it said 2, but I had to go to a doctor’s appointment and then the store. I’m sure two will be fine)

     OK…you dough has risen, now its time to talk sauce. You have a favorite sauce? Ok, use that. You want to buy a store bought one or one from a restaurant? Ok, go for it. We opted to keep it simple. And by simple, I mean really simple. We took a can of diced tomatoes, the basil, garlic and oregano seasoned ones, 14.5 oz or whatever size they come in, and drained the liquid but reserved it in case we needed to thin our sauce. Dumped it into a skillet and then mashed the tomatoes using a fork. Heat on medium and adjust to taste using salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and maybe some garlic powder. Once you’ve got the flavor you want, turn off the heat and allow to cool. How easy was that?

Our simple sauce for pizza
Our simple sauce for pizza

     You’ve got your dough, you’ve got your sauce, now its time to talk toppings. I don’t know if there are special rules for toppings for deep dish pizza. If there are, who cares? This is your pizza. I say top it the way you want. We opted for pepperoni, our Home-made Hot Italian Sausage (which we are now out of 😦 ), mushrooms and red onions, but you can add whatever your lil heart desires.

Browning up the last of our Hot Italian Sausage
Browning up the last of our Hot Italian Sausage

     Time to start topping your pizza now that you have decided on what you want on it. Sauce first, right? Wrong! On this pizza, you don’t want the sauce to go down first. The liquid of the sauce will mess up the dough. You’ve got to protect that dough.

Start with cheese
Start with cheese

     Start with a layer of cheese. Mozzarella. But don’t use that pre-shredded stuff. We’ve talked about this before. Its got chemical and stuff added to it to keep it from clumping. That also keep it from melting nicely and leaves a gritty texture. No, buy a block of cheese and grate it for yourself. It’s cheaper, too. 😉

A pizza isn't complete without pepperoni!
A pizza isn’t complete without pepperoni!

    Follow the cheese with your choice of toppings. We started with pepperoni.

The rest of the stuff
The rest of the stuff

 Then added the sausage, mushrooms and diced red onions.

Let's get saucy!
Let’s get saucy!

Followed by our sauce. Can you guess what comes next?

More Cheese!!
More Cheese!!

If you guessed more cheese, move to the head of the class. You guys are so smart.

On to the Egg
On to the Egg

     Time to get cooking. Guess I should have mentioned to pre-heat your grill or oven to 425. Whoops. If using an Egg, the placesetter should be used legs down (and pre-heated a minimum or 30 minutes). Then place your cast iron skillet on top of the three green feet or use spacers of some kind to elevate it off of the placesetter.

20 minutes in
20 minutes in

Check your pizza every 10 to 15 minutes and rotate it to ensure even cooking.

35 minutes in and done
35 minutes in and done

Our pizza took about 35 minutes at 425F. Your times may vary and you may want to pull it earlier depending on how much you like your cheese browned.

Resting
Resting

Upon finishing, bring your pizza inside. Using a thin knife, cut around the edge of cast iron skillet so that you can remove the pizza and then allow it to rest on a wire rack for 3 to 5 minutes. Leaving it in the pan will cause the crust you worked so hard on to get soggy.

Sliced
Sliced

Mmmm…doesn’t that look good. Look at all those air bubbles in the crust. Light and airy.

View of bottom
Golden brown and crispy crust

One bite was all it took. I was in love. Heavenly. Crispy crust on the bottom, yet slightly chewy. Light and airy with a slight buttery flavor from the oil it cooked in. pepperoni and a bit of heat from the sausage. Every bite better than the next. We sliced it into six pieces and even though I thought I was only going to have one, I ate two. I just couldn’t stop myself. Mrs G, who has been to Chicago and eaten plenty of their pizzas, at one point said that it could stand with any of the famous places. I don’t know about that, but I’ll take her word for it. I usually prefer thinner crust pizzas, but now…I don’t know…this might be my go to style. And the good news…that dough recipe…it makes enough for two. So I’ve got another ball in dough in the fridge. Guess I’ll be having pizza again this weekend. 😉

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower
Roasted Cauliflower

     Just like most Americans, we are constantly struggling to try and eat better. Yeah, you probably wouldn’t guess it from looking at the posts here with all the BBQ and pizzas and wings and bacon. And bacon.  And more bacon. But I promise you, into between all those posts, we do eat some healthy meals…sometimes. Probably not as often as we should, but we try.

     The other day, I was at the grocery store, picking up a few things and I was walking through the produce section and I spotted some cauliflower. I thought to myself, “Self, you should pick up some cauliflower. It’s ‘sposed to be loaded with all kinds of things and stuff that are good for you.” A nutritionist I am not. I don’t know what those things or stuff are, but I know I have heard it, so it must be true…right?

Doesn't that look good? Or at least healthy?
Doesn’t that look good? Or at least healthy?

     I’m probably in the same camp as most of you. We don’t know what to do with cauliflower. We know we should eat it, but maybe growing up we had bad experiences with it. I can remember growing up not really caring for it, not that I hated it, but it was just sorta bland and flavorless. Sure…you could drown it in a sea of cheese and it would be good, but it wouldn’t necessarily be healthy for you anymore.

     I think I have maybe one time in my life made cauliflower. I don’t remember what I did with it. I know I cooked it on the Egg, so it wasn’t that far back, but I probably offset the healthy benefits by setting it afloat in cream or butter or the aforementioned cheese. But not this time! Oh No! I was gonna try and keep it healthy. Or attempt to. And still produce something that was better than just edible.

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower, separated into florets
  • 2 tbsp of minced garlic
  • 2 tbsps of olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
I'll never look at cauliflower the same way again.
I’ll never look at cauliflower the same way again.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450F (yes, I know, I used an oven for once!)
  2. Spray a casserole dish with Pam.
  3. Add the cauliflower and garlic to the casserole dish and toss with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
  4. Bake for 12 minutes, stir and continue baking for an additional 12 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and broil for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown. (I hate it when recipes don’t specify on an ingredient. A pet peeve of mine. I wasn’t sure if the recipe was calling for the cheese from the green can or freshly grated Parmesan cheese, so I did a mixture of both. You can experiment to your liking).
  6. When done, grate some more fresh Parmesan cheese on top if desired.
Plated with grilled chicken breast and a salad
Plated with grilled chicken breast and a salad

    Now, to be honest, I was skeptical. Even though I had high hopes for the cauliflower, I wasn’t expecting much. But boy was I wrong! Could cauliflower really taste like this? Could it actually be that good? Apparently so. Who knew? Not this guy. I actually went back for seconds on the cauliflower. And I packed some in my lunch today as well. I think it was a combination of roasting it (vs steaming it) and the roasted garlic. And yeah, it had cheese in it, but not a ton and it wasn’t swimming in it. Just a bit sprinkled on top. Was it totally healthy? I don’t know, but I got some of my daily required things and stuff so I’m happy. I will definitely be making this one again. Maybe next time I’ll try and tackle grilling it, whaddaya think?