New Year’s Dinner 2012

When I went to Baltimore for New Years a few weeks back, I hadn’t planned on having to do any cooking while on vacation. But as they say “duty calls”. So on New Year’s Eve I went on a trip to Wegmans out in Hunt Valley, MD with Boxcar to pick up all the main ingredients to make dinner on New Year’s Eve. As kind of a side note, I had never been to a Wegmans before that day, but I have to say, it was a pretty nice grocery store. So without further to do, here was the menu for New Year’s Eve from a couple of weeks back:

  • A four-bone beef rib roast (~10lbs) paired with a cilantro chimichurri (or you can call it a salsa verde)
  • Double baked potato skins
  • Baked broccoli, with Italian breadcrumbs and cheddar cheese
  • Spring greens salad mix with raspberry vinaigrette and tangerine segments.

The protein was originally supposed to be a beef tenderloin, but when we got a Wegmans the tenderloin wasn’t looking so hot. But the beef rib roast on the other hand was much better looking, plus it was going to be large enough to feed the ever expanding dinner guest list. Because what started as dinner for ~8, ended up being dinner for ~13. But in the end, this four bone roast was enough to feed the crowd, with enough leftovers for breakfast in the morning. As far as cooking method goes, instead of cooking the rib roast in the oven, we grilled it outside on a gas grill. It ended up taking about 2 hrs of cooking time to get the roast to about medium/medium-rare. And with the taper of the meat, people that wanted more well done, were able to get what they wanted, along with the people that were looking more for a medium rare slice of beef.

As of the “sauce”, it was something that was fresh in my mind. Since I was just in Washington DC with the posse for sight seeing on Friday the 30th. And when we got into DC, we had lunch at José Andrés’ Oyamel Cocina (which by the way was a very good eatery), and one of the small plates that we ordered for lunch was Costilla de res con salsa verde (Beef short ribs with a tangy green sauce of cilantro, parsley and garlic). Let me tell you, this dish was awesome, the short rib was fork tender and the salsa verde went great with it. So with the salsa verde still stuck in my head from Friday’s lunch. When Big Red mentioned that he didn’t have any use for the remaining cilantro from his guacamole, the salsa verde popped into my head. The rough recipe that I came up with for the salsa verde was half of bunch of cilantro (finely chopped), about 2 tsp of horseradish, ½ a lime, and some olive oil. This salsa verde ended up being an excellent condiment to the beef.

For a starch, we went with double baked potatoes, as this was a request from Boxcar, so I made it work. I started with 8 baking potatoes that I scrubbed and baked in the oven at around 375F for about an hour and a half until tender to the touch. From there the potatoes where cut in half length-wise, the insides scooped out and placed into a small pot. Then all the insides were mashed with milk, butter, olive oil, cheddar cheese, salt and pepper, and spooned back into the hollowed skins. I then popped the skins back in the oven at ~350F to bake while working on the rest of dinner.

The broccoli I was on the fence about, since I really don’t eat that much broccoli, but it was another request from Boxcar, so I made it work. Personally I think that plain steamed broccoli is boring to eat, and boring to look at. So when I was in the shower the morning of New Year’s Eve I rolled around the idea of doing something different to jazz things up. So what I came up with was to first par blanch the broccoli (about 3 mins in boiling water), then adding it to a Pyrex dish with Italian breadcrumbs and cheddar cheese and baking it in the oven at the same time as the potato skins. The baking took care of a couple of tasks for this dish: 1) It will finish cooking the broccoli so that it is still firm but not a pile of mush and 2) it will brown up the breadcrumbs and melt the cheese.

Last up was the salad, which really took nothing to put together. Since all the salad was, was two bags of pre-washed spring mix greens, two carrots shredded with a peeler, a quarter of a finely chopped red onion, Wegmans own raspberry vinaigrette and four tangerines that were peeled and cut into segments. Then I just tossed it all together and served.

In total about 3 hours of cooking/kitchen time from about 5pm to ~8pm when dinner was served. There weren’t very many leftovers after dinner, so I’ll take that as a sign that people enjoyed the dinner.
Attached are some pics from my cell phone that I took that night.

Grilled Whole Chicken & Shiracha Swiss Chard

Editors Note: This should have been posted about 6 months ago. But better late than never.

Whole chickens were on sale at the grocery store for $0.69 a lb. So I thought that it was high time to make a roasted chicken on the grill.

The cooking time couldn’t be simpler for this dirty bird. With the bird directly over the coals, grill 8 mins on breast side, flip, than 8 mins on the back side, finally another 2 mins on each side of the bird (20 mins total.) Then move to the cool side of the grill, with the breasts facing the coals. And let it go for 30-40 mins, until the bird is at 160F.

As for the swiss chard, my crop of swiss chard was a total disaster this year. So I ended up having to bum some swiss chard from my farmer neighbor. As for cooking method, I lightly blanched the swiss chard, along with some green beans for a couple of minutes. And then in a frying pan with a with a little bit of bacon fat, I sautéed the swiss chard and green beans until golden. And then at the end, I gave it a couple of squirts of sriracha for some heat. I might have added just a little too much sriracha (as you can tell from the pics), but I like it hot. Thought it could of used some kind of crunch in the mix, maybe french fried onions or breadcrumbs. But I consider a missing crunch, only a minor detail.