The Kim’s House of Prime Rib

My mom makes a great prime rib. She roasts potatoes and bell peppers in the roasting pan along with the meat so they cook in all the drippings. It’s so good. In her words, “It’s my favorite entertaining meal. So easy, yummy, and you get to enjoy your guests without concentrating on the food.” I’ve never made her prime rib recipe before, but last weekend I had my chance.

On Saturday, Andrew and I hosted our friends Cory and Margaret, and Shane and Savannah for dinner. I have no photo of them. Despite telling them I was going to take their picture specifically for this blog post, I had too much fun merrymaking that I completely forgot. So it goes. Anyway, I wanted to make a good ole’ meat and potatoes meal, and what better way to do that than with prime rib? So I emailed my mom for the recipe (full recipe at the end of this post).

Although three ribs worth serves six (2 people per rib), I wanted to make sure I had leftovers so I opted for four ribs. Little did I know how much meat that was. I came home with almost 10 pounds of beef, including the bones (because of course I’m going to make stock with it). My mom only gave me a general cooking time: 1 1/2 hours for three ribs, 2 hours for four. Because I had so much meat, I wanted to make sure I cooked it long enough so I Googled prime rib cooking times and came across this great post on prime rib by Simply Recipes.

It was quite thorough about cooking times:

  • 12-14 minutes per pound for rare (115°F)
  • 15-17 minutes per pound for medium rare (120°-130°F)

The post goes into more detail about other factors that affect cooking times, so if you are planning on making this at any point, I highly recommend reading it. I found it really helpful and adapted my mom’s recipe to include some of their tips. (And by the way, my mom was almost spot on about the 2 hour cooking time. Without the bones, the roast came to 7 1/2 pounds. Do the math and you are at just about 2 hours depending on how rare you want it. Goes to show you should always listen to your mother!)

When I seasoned the meat and added the chopped the veggies, my roasting pan was quite full:

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I popped this baby in the oven and it didn’t take long for the apartment to start to smell amazing. While the beef was roasting, I prepped a salad of radicchio, butter lettuce, shaved fennel, and a champagne vinaigrette. It’s a simplified version of Bon Appetit’s Crunchy Winter-Vegetable Salad, and looks very homey in my grandmother’s wooden salad bowl set.

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The salad didn’t take long to prepare and with the rest of the meal in the oven, not needing any attention, I had over an hour to spare before our guests arrived. I actually had time to test-drive the featured cocktail of the evening and actually finish it! Cory and Margaret are big whiskey fans, so I decided to make whiskey sours using a recipe from RecipesPlus. I had a bunch of Meyer lemons thanks to a colleague who literally brought in buckets of them to work, and with the orange syrup leftover from my candied orange peels, I had the ingredients to make the best whiskey sour I’ve ever tasted. Now I need to candy more orange peels just so I can get the syrup so I can keep making this cocktail. It really was that special ingredient that lifted it from being a good cocktail to Captain Awesome.

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The prime rib was done just about when my friends arrived, which was perfect because we were able to have a cocktail while the meat rested. It turned out beautiful. It was juicy and tender and pink and silky from all the marbled fat that makes this cut of meat “prime.” I was quite impressed with myself. I will be the first to tell you everything that I did wrong with a dish. That’s kind of what this blog is all about, but I really can’t cut myself down this time. I did a fantastic job and I don’t mind tooting my own horn at all. We joked about never needing to go to The House of Prime Rib when you can just come to the Kim’s.

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Look at that perfect pink!

But I’m not done yet. Because there is still dessert. Andrew and I were in Napa the weekend before last and had a great pots de creme at Zuzu, one of our favorite restaurants up there. As I was eating it, I thought, “I could make this.” So I did. I found recipes for pots de creme that call for baking the custard like creme brulee. That’s kind of pain to do, so I opted for a simpler Pots de Creme recipe from the Food Network where you slowly thicken the milk, cream, egg yolk, and sugar into a custard and blend it with chocolate. From there you pour it into whatever dishes you want to serve it in and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours. Because it needs a few hours to set, make this in the morning you are going to serve. Then all you need to do when it’s dessert time is top with whipped cream, grate some chocolate over it for pizzaz, and you have one hell of a dessert.

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This was the most stress-free dinner party I have thrown yet. I wasn’t scrambling to set the table, or running around crazy doing the final steps for multiple dishes. Everything was ready, on time, with space to enjoy a cocktail and most importantly my guests. Prime rib is now my favorite entertaining meal. So easy, yummy, and you get to enjoy your guests without concentrating on the food. Words (and food) never rang truer.

RECIPES

Prime Rib

(serves 6)

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 ribs of prime rib (bones removed). If you’re my mom you give the bones to the dog. If you’re me you freeze them for stock.
  • Herbes de Provence
  • Rock salt (or any course salt you have on hand)
  • 4 russet potatoes
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 1 large yellow onion

METHOD

  • Take the meat out of the fridge 3 hours before roasting to get it to room temperature. Place in roasting pan and cover the entire roast with rock salt.
  • When it’s time to roast, preheat the oven to 500°F.
  • Meanwhile, dice the potatoes, bell peppers, and onion. Mix together and drizzle with olive oil.
  • Pat the roast dry with a paper towel. Generously season all over with with Herbes de Provence.
  • Add the potatoes, bell peppers, and onion around the prime rib.
  • Roast for 15 minutes at 500°F, then turn down to 325°F and roast for about 1 hour and 15 minutes (12-14 minutes per pound for rare and 15-17 minutes per pound for medium rare).
  • Take out prime rib and let it rest for about 20 minutes.
  • Mix the potatoes and taste for doneness. If the potatoes are not fully cooked, leave the oven on and continue to cook while the meat is resting. If they are cooked, turn the oven off and keep the potatoes in the oven to keep warm.
  • Slice the prime rib and place on the serving platter. Arrange potatoes around the meat and serve!

Pork Soup Dumplings–Valentine’s Day 2016 (part 1)

Valentine’s Day is just another day for the Kims. We don’t buy each other gifts or go out to a nice restaurant, but it does provide a reason to get flowers for our table and make an elaborate meal at home, not that you ever need a reason to do either. This year’s V-day menu was pork soup dumplings (all from scratch), green beans, and homemade tangerine sorbet with candied tangerine peels, with French 75 cocktails to enjoy throughout.

I spotted this recipe for pork soup dumplings in an issue of Bon Appetit about a year ago and saved it as a “someday” cooking project. Then sometime in the new year it popped up again in BA’s daily email, and with my mild success at making pork buns, I thought I would try it for Valentine’s Day. It was also an excuse to buy Asian soup spoons, which I was thrilled about!

There are three components to soup dumplings: soup, filling, and dough. The soup is made with pork skin, pork bones, and a pig’s foot (as well as some ginger, scallions, and Shaoxing wine). The skin contains so much collagen that when you chill the finished stock, it turns into a Jell-o like consistency, or meat Jell-o, if you will. Then you cut the jelled soup into small cubes and add it to the pork filling. As you steam the filled dumplings, the jelled soup melts and that’s how you get the soup inside the dumpling. The soup itself is simple enough to make–it’s like any other stock, but it does require a trip to an Asian market as conventional butchers don’t necessarily have pig’s feet and straight up pork skin you can buy. It’ll also be the best place to get black vinegar and Shaoxing wine, which you’ll need for the filling and dipping sauce. I also recommend making the soup the day before.

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chilled and cubed jelled soup ready to go into the filling

The filling is really easy. You just mix ground pork with some scallions, garlic, ginger, and other Asian sauces like Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, and sesame seed oil. And if you already cook a lot of Asian food, you will have most of these ingredients in your pantry. If not, as I mentioned above, a trip to the Asian market will get you those ingredients very inexpensively. Once all those ingredients are mixed, you add the cubed jelled soup to it.

Now for the dough. Compared to pork bun dough, this was a breeze. It’s literally just flour and water. You let it rest for an hour (I prepared the filling while it was resting), and then divide it into pieces to be rolled into dumpling skins. I knew shaping the dumplings would be difficult (18 pleats!), but I didn’t anticipate how difficult it would be to roll out the skins themselves. The dough was very sticky, so even when I got the dough into a nice round shape, it would stick to my countertop when I pulled it up, stretching it out and ruining it. I then added more flour to the dough to prevent it from sticking, but then it would get tough.

On top of that, I could not get a handle on how to get the appropriate thickness. The middle of the skins should be thicker (so they don’t break when steamed), and the edges should be thinner so that when you make all those pleats, the top of the dumpling won’t be tough and chewy. My dumplings were the exact opposite. The middle was way too thin, the edges way too thick. In the photo below, you can see my scrapped skins in the top right corner. And those skins on the top left are not exactly circles.

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Luckily, I had a back-up plan. I told a colleague of mine (who happens to be Chinese) that I was making soup dumplings. She commended me for the attempt, but also advised me to buy pre-made skins just in case the dough failed. So while at the Asian market picking up pig’s feet and Shaoxing wine, I grabbed a package of dumpling skins as well. Or what I thought were dumpling skins (there were so many kinds!). I was glad I took my colleague’s advise because the dough failed me, or more accurately, I failed the dough. But when I tried to pleat the store-bought skins, they didn’t stick! I was surprised and frustrated by this, and ended up using my homemade dough anyway because at least I could get it to close. At that point I lost all patience with trying to roll and shape the dumplings correctly, so I just filled and sealed the dumplings anyway I could just to get them made. I figured however misshapen, they would still taste good. It wasn’t until after I made all the dumplings that Andrew stepped in and told me that you have to wet the edges of store-bought skins with water to get them to seal (an embarrassing display of my ignorance, and frankly, my whiteness).

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my ugly dumplings

With the dumplings finally made, I set about steaming them. That was when I truly discovered why you don’t want the bottom of your skins to be too thin, because all the dumplings broke and lost all their soup. So in the end I just made regular dumplings. They were pretty thick and chewy on top because of how I carelessly shaped them, but otherwise they were pretty good, especially with the dipping sauce made of black vinegar, soy sauce, scallions, and ginger. Served with Chinese style green beans and a strong French 75 cocktail, it turned into a rather nice meal.

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I would definitely make this recipe again, but using store-bought skins (making sure to wet the edges with water, of course). It’s just not worth the trouble making the skins by hand. And despite how much I love making meals entirely from scratch, I’m learning that a good home cook also knows when to cut corners and still keep the integrity of the home-cooked meal intact.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this post to get the inside scoop on the tangerine sorbet I made for dessert (pun most definitely intended).

Recipes

 

Recipe Discoveries

Last week was not great. It was busy at work. I was distracted and annoyed. Unproductive. This weekend I was able to pull myself together a little bit. I caught up on a few (of the many) things I’ve been putting off, got some rest, finished a book, and spent some time in the kitchen trying new recipes with a good measure of success. So when you’re feeling a bit low and uninspired, these recipes can help pick you back up.

Mango Margaritas

I don’t recommend making these every time you’re feeling low, but they certainly can help celebrate the start of the weekend, particularly when you’ve had a hard week, and especially when you share them with good friends. As I mentioned in the Momofuku Pork Buns (part 2) post, margaritas are a great way to use up the leftovers of that mango puree from mango pudding. I loosely followed my girl, Ree Drummond’s recipe, using mango puree to taste in place of the jarred mangos (and adding very little, if any additional sugar). I love the lime zest and sugar rim–it announces a party in looks and taste. And party we did.

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Spicy Tomato Soup

Barbara Lynch’s Spicy Tomato Soup from Food 52 is a simple soup to make on a lazy weekend or a busy weeknight. The ingredients are minimal and the method is easy. It does require blending and straining, which is a bit of a hassle, but definitely worth it to get a good homemade tomato soup and skip the preservatives and sodium of the store-bought kind.

Warm Lentil and Potato Salad

Smitten Kitchen recently posted this recipe. I’ve been waiting for a new lentil recipe to catch my eye so that I can use up the dregs of all the lentils in my pantry. The dressing is a vague cross between the dressing in your traditional potato salad and a German potato salad, containing dijon mustard, shallots, capers, and cornichons. I knew I would love this recipe based on those ingredients alone. It’s another simple dish to throw together, although you have to use a number of pots, and will most likely have to go to the store to pick up those capers and cornichons and a few other things. However, you will come away with a great (healthy) work lunch for a few days to help get you through another busy week.

Potato Chip Cookies

Yes, these are a thing and they are just as good as you want them to be. This is another Food 52 discovery (seriously, if don’t subscribe to them already, do so now). I’m not much of a cookie baker. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t find cookies to be all that exciting–to eat or make–but the whole game changes when you add crushed potato chips. This recipe does not disappoint, and I have 15 coworkers who can back me up on that. And this photo…

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My only regret is that I didn’t come up with this idea myself.

Old-Fashioneds with Candied Oranges

I am not a recipe developer by any means, but I do enjoy tailoring recipes and putting my own spin on things when inspiration strikes. Earlier this month my sister hosted her annual tree-trimming party and she requested I bring a fancy holiday cocktail. For her party last year, I made a spiced cranberry shrub which (per the recommendation of Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars) I mixed with bourbon and topped with champagne for a kind of Christmas cherry bomb. This year I didn’t have the time and energy to make a shrub, but I did have a whole bag of oranges and thought it would be fun to spice up the classic old-fashioned with candied oranges.

I chose Food and Wine’s recipe for candied oranges because it was the least complicated and took only 35 minutes. You really only need three ingredients: sugar, water, and a sliced orange. You can read the recipe yourself, but essentially you bring sugar and water to a boil, and simmer the orange slices until the liquid becomes a syrup and the oranges turn translucent.

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On paper this sounds simple enough, and I started off well, but rather than getting a nice orange-flavored syrup at the end (which I planned to use as the sugar for the cocktail), I instead got hard orange-sugar candy. The second the syrup cooled it solidified. I notoriously have problems with recipes that call for simmering anything with a high sugar content for long periods of time. One time I tried to make grape ketchup and all I got were solid jars of oddly savory grape candy. Part of my trouble is the fact that I continually fail to understand the science and finesse of cooking sugar at high temperatures, and the other part is the recipes I consulted failed to warn me to be mindful of the fine line between making syrup and candy. “Moderate heat” can be fairly subjective and as an inexperienced candy-maker, I did not interpret that instruction well. I knew I was in trouble when the sugar water had reduced to almost nothing and the orange slices started to caramelize/almost burn, as you can see here:

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I pulled the slices out and attempted to save the syrup, which again, was unsuccessful because it solidified into a sugary mass. Despite this complication, the slices themselves still turned out well enough. Some were more heavily coated in hardened sugar than others, but when you put them in glasses of bourbon, the extra sugar melts and adds the sweetness that the syrup would have provided. No harm, no foul.

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In addition to adding candied orange slices into the bourbon, Andrew made bitters-infused ice cubes, so that when the ice melted, the bitters slow-released into the cocktail. This made for a cocktail with a flavor profile that changed as you drank it, the bitters, orange flavor, and sweetness slowly intensifying as you drank. It was kind of like an ever-lasting gobstopper, a cocktail with constantly changing flavors that unfortunately was not as ever-lasting as you wanted it to be because sadly your glass would eventually empty, your only consolation being the delicious, mildly boozy candied orange slice you got to eat at the end.

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So if you go through the trouble of making candied oranges and bitters-infused ice cubes (which is just filling an ice cube tray with water and adding drops of bitters into the water before freezing), the recipe is a simple one:

  1. Pour the bourbon of your choice into a glass (however much you want because I never really measure, but 2 oz is probably good to start with)
  2. Add candied orange slice (you can muddle it a little if you’d like to excrete some more orange flavor, but you want to keep the slice in tact)
  3. Add bitters-infused ice cube
  4. Garnish with regular slice of orange (you can also play around with squeezing a little fresh orange juice into the cocktail)

As you can see, this is not the most precise recipe. Everything can be experimented with and adjusted to taste.

Cheers!