Chef’s Palette Spice Rubs
Seasons change and the world continues to turn.
Here at the conclusion of the year 2015 I find myself typing my first ever blog post on our new company laptop at my dining room table a.k.a. the “home office”. Well, at least if the IRS is asking about that deduction later then that’s what we’re calling it. For those who found this page by following the link from the Hahn Family Wines website - thank you for coming over to check us out! Or, perhaps you looked us up from the information on the baggie of Chef’s Palette Porcini Espresso Rub that you purchased in their tasting room nestled in the beautiful Santa Lucia Highlands (double thanks to you! You actually had to type all of that in!) Regardless of how you got here, welcome. A lot of you may not be aware of my departure from Hahn but fret not. As you can see, we intend to maintain or relationship and commitment to bring you all the superb recipes and pairing ideas that you have come to enjoy as part of your wine club membership but with a couple of added bonuses: the first is that when I mention some mysterious spice rub that you should use but I never give you the recipe for, well, now you can order it and have it fulfilled by Amazon if you so desire! My lovely and brilliant wife and I have been laboring through the night to get our own little business off the ground and are planning for a full launch this Spring of not only our own line of gourmet spice rubs featuring the highest quality and organic ingredients we can get our hands on but I will also be offering my palate and my palette for hire to all of our wonderful friends in the wine, beer, and spirits trades that want to showcase their pride and joy alongside a culinary creation that will leave all in attendance talking about the experience for years to come. The other bonus is that I will also have more time to teach and talk about food, wine, and whatever else pops into my brain and spills across my backlit keyboard! (Can you tell I like the new laptop – my old one wasn’t backlit…and they keys were in cuneiform. And one of the apps was an actual abacus. Okay, maybe not that bad, but you get the picture right? The printer used papyrus. Sorry, I’ll stop).
So, enough about ME let’s talk about MEAT! Prime rib, or standing rib roast refers to a preparation of a big-ass slab of the ribeye section of beef which can be USDA Prime, Choice, or Select. On this cut of meat the grading can actually be quite important as one of the major factors used in determining the grade is the marbling. I typically use Choice, as it is widely available and not as expensive as Prime cuts. This is why I chose to make this post more of a how-to than a recipe. I started using this process a few years ago after reading about it in Cook’s Illustrated and then did some research on how a few other chefs did theirs. You will need one four to six rib roast - weight varies on whether you get bone-in, boneless, grass-fed, organic, Kobe/Wagyu, or pygmy - or whatever is in style this year. I bought a six bone roast that weighed in at 16 pounds to test the rub recipe and make sure everything was just right and believe it or not, that little 32-gram baggie covered every last bit perfectly! It was also a good excuse to have some friends over and open a bottle of Gabrielle Pinot Noir (and a Lucienne or two, and some Smith & Hook Westside Cab!) You will also need a remote probe thermometer or that cool iPhone thing that I still don’t have. The sides are up to you, but you have to have the au jus and the horseradish sauce (ask nicely and buy more of my spice rubs and maybe I’ll jot those recipes down too J). I always like twice baked potatoes or garlic mash and some green beans and/or a salad but definitely up to you. Alright, enough yappin’- let’s do this!
Buy your roast up to 1 week in advance of your dinner and do any trimming or Frenching of the ribs that you may want to do. If you buy the whole primal at Costco or somewhere comparable, trim the smaller (the N.Y. end down until you have the size you need for dinner, you want the part with the “eye” of fat in it – figure at least 1 1/4 pound per person of precooked meat if boneless, and about 2 pounds if bone in, or 2 people per rib). Salt the roast, using one tablespoon of salt per four pounds of meat, guestimation is okay but don’t go too crazy. The longer the roast sits, the better the salt penetrates and the enzymes in the meat start to break down the connective tissue and develop a more flavorful cut of beef. Wrap the roast in paper towels, then plastic and put safely in the refrigerator until show time. Now the fun part: searing the meat. Do you have a blow torch? You might want one – you know, just in case. Otherwise you can use your top broiler in your oven or even your grill. I typically use my blowtorch outside, on my grill; keeps things a little safer and no less fun. Lightly rub the meat with a little oil and commence the sear! Once it is all nice and crusty I smear on some rendered bacon fat and then dust it evenly with the rub but you can use some clarified butter or oil if you like. Sprinkle and pat the rub evenly on the greased up surface but avoid rubbing the meat - you’ll go blind. Okay not really, but the spices will cake to your hand and not the roast and that, is no bueno. Next, insert the probe into the THINNEST end of the roast and place uncovered in an oven set to 170 °F. If your oven goes lower than that (most do not), then by all means, set it to 110°F and have a much more relaxing day! *Disclaimer: What you are about to do is keep a large piece of meat in a warm, yet undercooked state for eight hours – but don’t stress, we killed any potential pathogens with pure, unadulterated fire after we salted the outside heavily to kill everything and before service you can bring the internal temperature to a safe temperature to ensure that everything is absolutely dead (of course, too far over 135°F means your roast’s flavor will be a bit dead too K). I just kind of have to mention all of that to you to cover my butt food safety wise, hopefully it gives you piece of mind rather than worry you. Feel free to fact check me or shoot me a message and ask.
If your oven does not go below 170°F you will need to do a touch more babysitting. Set you probe thermometer’s alarm to 107°F and work on other stuff for a while (like a bottle of Chard., a couple beers, or maybe your side dishes – your call). When the alarm goes off turn off the oven and probably the alarm. The carry-over heat will bring the roast up close to 120°F but not over. The enzymatic breakdown that contributes to all the buttery flavor that you will enjoy in but a few mere hours stops at 122°F, and we don’t want that, not yet. The heat will slowly start to drop again and when it hits 110°F turn it back on and reset your probe’s alarm to 107°F. By the time it comes back up you should be about six hours in – but the timing is really up to you when you want it to be done. If you started early, you can stall it out a bit by opening the oven and turning it off for 30 minutes and then starting it back up afterward. One hour from service is when you can turn the heat up to 250°F for 20 minutes and then to 400°F for about 10 more minutes after that. Set the probe thermometer’s alarm to 125°F and when it goes off, pull the roast from the oven. Let it rest for 20-30 minutes whilst you finish your sides and get your wine poured. Carve, serve and enjoy responsibly!
Seriously not into all of this? Fear not! Another post is coming soon to tell you what else you can do with that fabulous little spice packet now that it’s in your hot little hands!
Dyon J. Foster