Fancy Christmas Dinner Party Food: Rib Roast and Yorkshire Pudding
So this isn't an economical meal--unless you manage to nab the rib roast on sale, as I do, and, even then, the meal is definitely a splurge. I've cooked bone-in and boneless rib roasts. Both are good. The boneless roast is easier to slice, but some people prefer the bone-in roast, believing it has the most flavor. I go for whichever type is on sale and seems like the best deal. Because rib roasts are pricey, you don't want to mess them up. That means not over or under cooking them. The best way to avoid either problem is to use a meat thermometer, preferably one that you can leave in the meat while it cooks. That way you can avoid repeatedly opening the oven door. Another way to avoid problems is to ignore advice about running the roast under a broiler to brown the top. The roast will brown a bit whether you run it under the broiler or not. Plus, you're going to slice the roast, preferably in the kitchen so that you don't get meat juices all over your nicely dressed dining table. So never mind running the roast under the broiler. It's just another step and risks reducing the juiciness of your pricey roast. You also need to slow cook your roast at a low temperature--not a blazing hot one like some TV chefs suggest (they never took chemistry). The slow roasting will help your roast retain moisture. Also, when you pull the roast from the oven, set it aside for at least 20-30 minutes, covered loosely with foil, to rest and draw the meat juices into the roast. DO NOT SLICE the roast until it has rested! During the resting time, you can make the Yorkshire pudding and finish any other pending kitchen tasks--like steaming some green beans in the microwave and/or tossing a salad. Is the rib roast worth it? Yes, if you really like beef and would like something special for a celebration dinner. Rib roasts often are the stars in quintessential fancy Christmas meals. That said, if you'd rather not spend the money on a rib roast, stay tuned for other options for celebration meals. I'll post more ideas later.
Beef Rib Roast with Yorkshire Pudding -- Serves 6-8+
1 rib roast, 3-5 bones (7-10 pounds) or 1 boneless roast (4-5 pounds)
A day before you plan to cook the roast, dust it all over with salt (about 2 teaspoons), pepper (1/2-1 teaspoon), garlic powder (about 1 teaspoon), onion powder (1 teaspoon), thyme (1/2 teaspoon) and rosemary (1/2 teaspoon). Spritz the roast all over with olive oil and, if the roast is boneless, tie it with kitchen string to help it maintain its shape (tie it crosswise about every couple of inches). Put the roast on a pan with sides to catch any juices and loosely cover it with plastic wrap (mainly to keep it from getting juice on anything else in your refrigerator--you want the surface of the roast to dry out a little). Pull the roast from the oven an hour or so before you cook it and let it sit at room temperature. When you're almost ready to cook the roast, preheat the oven to 275 degrees, and coat a roasting pan with non-stick cooking spray. If you're cooking a boneless roast, wash 6-10 carrots well and put those in the bottom of the roasting pan to serve as a rack for the roast. The bone-in roast has its own rack (i.e., the bones). Put the bone-in roast in the pan, bones down, to serve as a rack. Put the boneless roast on top of the carrots and add 1/2 cup of water to the bottom of the pan so the carrots don't burn. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the roast and set it for 130 degrees for medium. Cook the roast for 2 1/2 - 4 hours or until the thermometer registers 130 degrees. Let the meat rest, loosely covered with aluminum foil for at least 20 minutes and preferably 30 (or longer for a larger roast). Slice the roast between the ribs for the bone-in roast and slice the boneless roast into 1/2-inch slices, approximately.
Yorkshire Pudding -- Serves 4-6
1/4-1/3 cup of beef drippings
2-3 eggs (2 for less custardy pudding and 3 for more)
1 cup of milk
1 cup of flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
While your roast is resting, increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Pour off all but about 1/4-1/3 cup of drippings from the roasting pan (and remove the carrots, if you used them, to serve alongside the roast. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and milk well. Add the flour and salt and whisk them in just until they're blended in (don't over whisk, in other words). Pour the mixture on top of the beef drippings and bake the pudding for about 30 minutes or until puffed and browned. The pudding will puff mostly around the edges and sink in the middle, where it will be thin and crispy on the bottom--yum, yum, yum, but not very good for you! Still, indulgence has its place!