A couple weeks back my wife approached me and asked if I would like to have a “progressive dinner”. Having never heard of such a thing, I first thought to myself, how insulting, all my dinners are progressive…I am constantly trying new recipes and ingredients and for Pete’s sake – I have practically dedicated this blog to it. I think she saw the ire in my eyes and, realizing I had no idea what a progressive dinner was, she explained the details of going from one neighbor’s house to the other as you progress through courses.
We are lucky to have great neighbors who I enjoy spending time with and they are quite skilled in the kitchen as well so I was pretty excited about the idea. Since we were doing the dinner course I wanted to make something special, but not something that required my constant attention since we would be house hopping.
So we proceeded to try and figure out what to make and ran through the normal holiday dish ideas – turkey, goose, crown roast, etc. – and finally decided on a prime rib. A couple years ago, my brother taught me a way to prepare prime rib by crusting it in mustard & salt – it turns out very juicy and is the perfect center piece for such an occasion. Pairing it with the cranberry horseradish was a no brainer and who doesn’t love bacon with their Brussels sprouts. (recipes below)
When the day came, I was able to pretty much prep the entire meal early and then just finish things off when it was our turn. That made it easy for us to spend time with our friends, rather than toiling over the stove. I would say the entire event was a success – lots of fun, limited stress, and darn good food all around. I am definitely now a fan of the progressive dinner.
Salt Crusted Prime Rib
8lb Prime Rib Roast with bones (An 8lb roast should be 3 bones, figure 2 people per bone when estimating how many it will serve)– Have the butcher slice the bones off and tie them to the roast.
1 Bottle of Dijon Mustard
2 Sprigs of Rosemary, finely chopped
3 Cups of Salt
Premade Au Jus
Set the roast out to rest about 1.5 hours prior to putting it in the oven. Preheat oven to 450F and, while it is warming up, prep the roast. It is a messy procedure so I do this partly over the butcher paper the roast is wrapped in and partly over a roasting pan I wrap with aluminum foil. On the wrapped pan, I dump most of the salt on it to create a layer that I will smash the roast into. Once this is all set up, sprinkle the rosemary and cracked pepper all over the roast. Then spread the Dijon all over the roast, turning and coating. Once you have a good layer of mustard, pick the roast up and smash it onto the pan of salt. Pour left over salt over the top and smash that into the roast. Turn, pour salt, turn, pour salt, etc. until the roast is entirely coated in a thick layer of salt. Move crusted roast to the pan you will cook it in – preferably on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.
Here is what it looks like right before putting it in the oven:
Place roast into oven and cook for 20 minutes at the 450F temp. Then reduce heat to 325F and roast until the center temperature is 125F (about 20 minutes per pound). Remove roast from oven and let it rest 20 minutes under a loose foil tent. Crack off the salt shell, cut twine, remove bone flap, and carve. You will want to shave one end off and then continue carving from there.
Note that there is no pan juices to make any au jus from so you will have to either make some from other sources or cheat and buy the pre-bottled kind.
Cranberry Horseradish (from epicurious.com)
1 bag of cranberries
1 jar of prepared horseradish
2/3 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of water
Put all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer, stirring occasionally. As the berries break down, smash them with a hand masher and mix, repeat until all berries are broken down and the sauce is a nice, thick consistency. Serve warm.
Brussels Sprouts with Lardon & Balsamic Reduction
25 sprouts, cleaned, and cut in half lengthwise
2 strips of bacon or Salt Cured Pork cut into ½ inch pieces
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Reduce the balsamic by heating in a sauté pan on low-med heat until is reduced to a syrupy consistency, stirring occasionally and being careful not to let it burn. The process takes about 15 minutes. This can be done ahead of time and set aside or put in the fridge.
Cover a cookie sheet or roasting pan with aluminum foil and spread sprouts and bacon evenly, pour a little bit of olive oil on and toss to lightly coat them. Bake in preheated oven at 425F for 20 minutes. Reheat the balsamic reduction while roasting sprouts & bacon.
Remove sprouts & bacon from oven, place them on a heated serving dish, then drizzle with the reduced balsamic.