Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Praline Cream Wishes and Pâte à Choux Dreams…

I like challenges. Hey, I’ve got two kids, right? Even more, I like challenges that involve butter, cream, sugar and, well, you get the idea. Enter the Paris-Brest Cake.

Named for the famous Paris to Brest bicycle race, the Paris-Brest Cake is a showstopper. It’s everything you want in a dessert and then some – be warned though, it’s not for the faint of heart.

You can find photos of the decadent pastry here. I’ll post the test recipe as soon as I find my electronic copy. In the meantime, look and drool, look and drool.  :)

You can find the Cook’s Illustrated recipe and more in the December issue. I’m not a paid endorser, unless you count the helpings of praline cream I enjoyed while testing this one. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Prime To Remember

When this recipe hit my inbox, I was excited and a little intimidated. Normally, I enjoy testing recipes and can handle new techniques, but this was different. If I screwed this up, roughly 7 pounds of Prime Rib were going to get hacked up, charred or wasted. Plus, what was I to do with all that meat? 

I debated taking a pass on the recipe until I realized one of our sisters would be in town. If I did mess it up, we could always get takeout, which is the house rule. Plus, it might, in the company of loved ones, make an interesting story. But, there was still a lot of meat to go around. Enter good friend who lives nearby.

I sent a quick e-mail that basically said, I’ve got some extra meat and it may turn out good or not, wanna stop by and find out? Read: please be my guinea pig and don’t laugh too hard if this fails miserably.

Why so much fuss? Well, it’s not a cheap cut and anything that involves bones, a knife and me is risky. After a couple days of waffling, I gave in and bought the Prime Rib.

Boy, am I glad I did. The Cook’s Illustrated recipe outlined all the steps needed to make a delicious Prime Rib, which they call The Best-Ever Prime Rib in the December issue.

It was melt in your mouth tender and had a browned and deliciously seasoned crust. I didn’t find anything too complicated about the instructions. Thank goodness it worked.
Everyone at our table was in good spirits and loved dinner. We had a great visit that turned into a feast.

Here’s the recipe, enjoy your own feast!

Best Prime Rib
From Cook's Illustrated.
Serves 6 to 8

Look for a roast with an untrimmed fat cap (at least 1/2-inch thick); roasts that have been trimmed of their fat cap tend to overcook at the surface. We prefer the flavor and texture of prime grade beef, but choice grade will work as well. To remove the roast from the bones, use a sharp knife and run it down the length of the bones, following the contours as closely as possible until the meat is separated from the bones. Open the oven door as little as possible and remove the roast from the oven while taking its temperature. If the roast has not reached the correct temperature in the range specified in step 3, heat the oven to 200 degrees for 5 minutes, shut it off, and continue to cook the roast until it registers 126 to 128 degrees. The roast can be served plain or with one of the following sauces.

1 (7-pound) first-cut beef standing rib roast (3 bones), meat removed from bones, bones reserved
Kosher salt and pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1. Using sharp knife, cut slits in surface layer of fat, spaced 1 inch apart, in crosshatch pattern, being careful to cut down to, but not into, meat. Rub 2 tablespoons salt over entire roast and into slits. Tie meat back onto bones exactly from where it was cut, passing length of twine between each set of bones and one lengthwise around widest part of roast underneath ribs. Place roast on large plate and refrigerate, uncovered, at least 24 hours and up to 72 hours.
2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over high heat until just smoking. Sear meat-side of roast on all sides until browned, 6 to 8 minutes, spending more time on sections with thick fat cap. Flip and sear bone-side of roast for 1 minute. Transfer roast, fat-side up, to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and season with pepper. Roast until meat-probe thermometer or instant-read thermometer inserted into center of roast registers 110 degrees, 3 ½ to 4 ½ hours.
3. Turn off oven; leave roast in oven, opening door as little as possible, until meat-probe thermometer or instant-read thermometer inserted into center of roast registers 126 to 128 degrees, 60 to 90 minutes longer. 
4. Remove roast from oven (leave roast on baking sheet), tent loosely with aluminum foil, and rest for at least 30 minutes and up to 75 minutes.
5. Adjust oven rack about 8 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Remove foil from roast, form into 3-inch ball, and place under ribs to elevate fat cap. Broil until top of roast is well-browned and crisp, 2 to 8 minutes.   
6. Transfer roast to carving board; cut twine and remove ribs. Slice meat into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Season interior of slices with salt and serve.
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