It is a scary thing to invite a friend or friends over for dinner when, being called "the queen of the kitchen" was never in the list of endearments you have ever received. Especially if your friends are hard core foodies, that can make a 5 course dinner, wearing their 7 inch Jimmy Choo's and not breaking a sweat.
Cooking for friends should be about having fun. Being able to chat with them and drink a glass of Pinot as soon as they walk through the door. You don't want to worry about getting everything ready on time, or having to slave over the new induction top you recently installed for hours.
Simple combinations and stand out ingredients should be the way to go if you are lacking confidence in the kitchen. This way the food speaks for itself. Besides more complex an ingredient the more likely your guests pallet wouldn't be able to appreciate it.
Easy Rib Roast
one 7- to 8-pound beef rib roast (with four rib bones)
1/4 cup olive oil 1/4 cup smashed garlic cloves (about 10 cloves)
1/4 cup canned anchovy fillets
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup fresh thyme leaves (from about 10 sprigs)
1 spring of Rosemary
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 celery stalk, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup beef or chicken stock, or canned low-sodium beef or chicken broth, or as needed
1/2 cup red wine
Tie the roast with cooking twine between the rib bones (in three sections) so it will hold its shape while roasting, and allow it to sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Place the olive oil, garlic, anchovies, chopped onion, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process until you have a smooth paste. (Alternatively, chop everything except the oil to- gether, then mash the mixture in a mortar and pestle until smooth; then incorporate the oil.) Set the paste aside.
Place the onion, carrot, and celery pieces in a roasting pan or a metal baking dish that is large enough to hold the rib roast. Using a flexible spatula, smear the paste on all sides of the roast. Set the roast on top of the vegetables and roast in the oven for 1 1/2 hours.
Continue to cook to desired degree of doneness, checking the internal temperature of the roast with an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part. It should read 125°F to 130°F for rare to medium- rare. If you would prefer the roast to be medium to medium-well throughout, add a cup of broth to the pan to prevent the vegetables from burning, and continue to cook up to 30 minutes longer.
Remove the roast from the oven and cut the string.
To carve the roast, detach the entire section of rib bones by slicing along the side of the roast against the bone until it is separated. Turn the roast on its flat side and slice across the grain to the desired thickness. Alternatively, you can serve the beef without separating the ribs: turn the roast on its end (vertically), and while holding it steady with a carving fork, carve slices by cutting against the grain with a very sharp knife. Or (probably the easiest way to envision slicing), lay the roast on a cutting board, ribs down, and carve by slicing the ribs apart.
Strain the juices from the pan and serve on top of meat.
Yield: 8 servings
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