Sunday, December 24, 2023

Planning Christmas Dinner

TOP* and I are planning dinner for Christmas. My mutual agreement, the menu is thus:

Antipasto w/aperitivos (yes, I know, this is a violation of Italian law):

Mixed cured meats, cheeses and olives. I plan a Martini.

Main course:

Rib Roast
Sauteed asparagus
Baked potatoes
Yorkshire pudding


Apple pie a la mode


Limoncello, Tuaca or Kahlua

To make this happen, some things have already been prepped. A very large rib roast was ordered (larger than I realized, we'll have more leftover than we'll eat), and has been rubbed down with Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, basil, thyme and rosemary. That went in the fridge Friday afternoon. (Sorry, no pictures, but when I park my car in the garage, I can't easily get to the garage refrigerator, and I'm enjoying my recliner at the moment before the second of three Masses today. Just another lazy priest.)

Just now I made some Yorkshire pudding batter -- that took about five minutes -- and it's going to sit in the fridge overnight.

I small discursus: one thing I've learned about cooking is to learn what things can substitute for other things, and other ways to improvise. Example: the recipe for Yorkshire pudding called for "whole milk." Except neither I nor TOP drinks milk, so there's none in the house. But we do have heavy cream (for coffee); so I improvised by using cream, plus some extra water to approximate milk; I bet it works, we'll see.

I've printed out recipes for everything else (oh, you think I have all this stuff in my head? Hah!). They are on the counter, ready for tomorrow.

My plan is "low and slow" with the roast, so that requires a "Critical Path" timeline to be worked out, which follows (revised slightly from print-out shown in photo above): 

8:30 am - start roast @ 150 degrees

9:30 am - check roast before Mass

11:30a    - check roast after Mass

2 pm       - check roast

2:45 pm   - prep potatoes

3:00 pm   - remove roast, rest 
                - oven to 400 degrees
        - potatoes in
        - fix antipasto
        - wine in fridge**
                - prep asparagus
                - finish gravy; keep warm

3:30 pm    - Evening Prayer

4 pm - potatoes out -- in warmer
                - oven to 550 degrees
                - sour cream, horseradish sauce out.
                - make drinks
        - Serve antipasto

4:10 pm   - roast in to sear

4:20 pm - roast out
        - yorkies in
        - fix asparagus

4:35 pm   - yorkies out
        - oven set for pie
        - pie in

4:35 pm - Main course

5:30 pm - pie out to cool

6 pm        - Dessert, coffee and digestivos ad libitum.

That's the plan, there's plenty of time between noon and 3 pm to get ahead on some things as I may be inspired. If things go well, I'll update with photos tomorrow.

Update, 6:11 pm...

The roast seems to be resting comfortably:

That's a six-bone roast; I didn't remember ordering that large a roast, but when I picked it up, it was all trussed up so nicely, I didn't want to untie it in order to slice it in half. We'll see what's left and freeze the rest if needed. FYI, I got a great deal on this: it was $9.99/pound when I ordered it; marked down to $7.99 when I went to pick it up. Rib roast or steak is normally between $15-17/pound. So when I ordered it, I got a whole loin, with the rest sliced up for steaks to put in the freezer. Perhaps people wondered why a priest was carting around so much beef at the store, but it was too great a savings to pass up!

Update, 2:30 pm...

The roast is closing in on the target temp, perhaps a little slowly, so I raised the oven temp.

Meanwhile, I've prepped everything else; the gravy is on a low flame to keep warm, the potatoes are ready to go in the oven when the roast comes out, and the asparagus is ready to sautee when the potatoes come out and the meat gets it's final sear, and then the yorkshire puddings go in.

Update, 3:30 pm . . .

The wireless meat probes weren't working all day, till a decisive suggestion by TOP worked: the meat came out of the oven around 114, now it reads 121, so we're in great shape. It'll go back in at the end for a sear. The potatoes are in the oven now, and it's time for Evening Prayer.

Update, 5:29 pm...

It all came together, a little messy but great. I was using a new set of wireless meat probes, and I hadn't quite figured them out. But in the end, they worked, and we had to speed up, then slow down, the roast, to get it to about 130 degrees. The yorkshire puddings had too much fat, so they were a little doughy, but I still loved them. The asparagus got a bit overcooked, but very tasty. The potatoes were perfect, and inebriated with butter and sour cream, they were sublime.

The roast was a lovely rose color, leading me to think that 125 would have been better (meaning, *redder*). It's always tricky getting these devices to measure just exactly how *I* think they ought to. All the same, the roast was awesome, and TOP reminded us: $7.99.

He's graciously handling the dirty dishes while the pie finishes in the oven. We wrapped up the remains of the roast; a small bit for the fridge, the bones, plus a full half of the roast, for the freezer. After taking care of God's People and praying our prayers, such a nice meal! Thank God for all his abundant blessings, above all, the Gift of His Son!

Update, 6:15 pm...

TOP came through! He kept an eye on the pie, and when the fullness of time had come, brought hot pie with Graeters vanilla ice cream! La dulce finita est! It will soon be time for the digestivos...

*The Other Priest.
** I'm assured by experts that red wine should be consumed somewhat cooler than room temperature.


rcg said...

Sounds excellent! That roast is going to be excellent for next few weeks. Leftovers are fun. How did you make the gravy?

Fr Martin Fox said...


The gravy is actually leftover from last week's pot roast! It was too good not to repurpose.

rcg said...

You probably know this, but just to be sure: when you buy a roast of any sort you can ask the butcher to give you the trimmings or trim them yourself, of course. Then cook them down for a pan sauce than can’t be bought but tastes better than anything out of a bottle. Like liquid dreams. 😋