The year 2014 has been a full one for the Galley Pirates and their Captains. Six months in southern Afghanistan for one, sending the last kid off to college for another, and in between finding as much time to sail and simply spend time with sailors–frequently around the dinner table–as possible. Such a year calls for a special holiday dinner…for going culinarily not just out of your way, but over the top…enter a standing rib roast with Yorkshire pudding and gravy. Served with caramelized parsnips and a beautiful winter pear salad, an evening to enter into the ship’s log, to be remembered.
A standing rib roast is a gastronomical investment. Rib roasts come by-the-rib in odd numbers, and somehow, despite it being priced by the pound, taking it down from seven ribs to five cut the cost in HALF and was more than enough for our party of six, with leftovers for all. Have your butcher cut the ribs off and then re-tie it (clearer during the carving stage, below). Take the roast out of the icebox two hours before you wish to begin cooking it, which should be no challenge for those having to go from butcher-to marina-to aboard-to below-to putting things away in a salon and galley in the throes of preparing for Christmas dinner!
Another convenience of going from seven to five ribs is that I’m not sure seven would have fit in our galley oven! We highly recommend using a disposable aluminum roasting pan…not only will it “fold” into the oven as necessary, but you also can make the gravy directly in it over the stove top, then throw the whole thing away. Ever tried washing a large, greasy roasting pan in a galley sink? No? DON’T. Once you have put your room-temperature roast in the pan, fat-side up — the fat will baste the meat for you all day…oh the magnanimity of fat! — put it in as hot an oven as you can manage for a quick sear. (Joy of Cooking is my favorite resource for this, primarily because the instructions come immediately after the page on how to butcher your own side of beef into various cuts…I love that cookbook…from a different, but appealing, time!) They call for 550 degrees to start, and immediately reducing the heat to 350 degrees. Our galley oven couldn’t manage more than 450 degrees, so we gave it 10 minutes at that before reducing to 350 and cooking for 20 minutes per pound for medium rare — about 4 hours for our almost 12-pounder. After the first 3 hours (or 3/4 of the anticipated time for your roast), check it with a meat thermometer occasionally: you want 140 degrees (at a point away from the bone and toward the middle of the roast) for rare, 170 for well-done. It will continue to cook as it rests after you take it out; we took it out at about 140 and were very happy with the medium-on-the-ends/medium-rare-in-the-middle results!
Did I mention you will be waiting a while? This is a menu that’s not kind to ANY chef, not least of all a galley pirate. The roast is in, olfactorily taunting you, for HOURS. Then, when it emerges, while it rests and you throw things at your crew to keep them away from it…you have a FURIOUS 30 minutes of making puddings and gravy. But for now, roast in the oven, take a few hours for yourself…maybe a nice lunch, a libation…and decorate the salon with whatever you have gathered for the purpose! The holly you appropriated from the bushes in front of the marina, some ribbon a landlubber friend tied to a lovely landlubber gift, maritime baubles that happen to be Christmas colored, and scurvy-preventing plus attractive fruits of the season!
And naturally, your nutcracker in foul weather gear. Cap’n Crack’nutter.
Sometime during your break, prepare the Yorkshire pudding batter, as it needs to rest an hour plus, refrigerated, before cooking. For the batter, you will need a cup of flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup water, and two eggs. Stir the flour, salt, milk, and water in a bowl.
Whisk the two eggs until fluffy, and add them to the batter. (I am sure finer chefs have precision techniques and instruments, but we’re in a galley on a winter night.) Whisk until smooth, and bubbles rise to the surface and pop. Put it somewhere cool — cockpit works for me! — for an hour, then beat again and return to room (galley) temperature in time to cook it after the roast comes out.
Reminding you of where we’re headed and fudging a transition…when the roast reaches the right temperature, take it out of the oven, transfer to a platter, and tent it with foil to rest. Drain most of the drippings off into a separate bowl (leave a few tablespoons in the pan for gravy), bump the heat up to 400 degrees on the oven, take a deep breath, and prepare Yorkshire pudding and gravy…simultaneously…BE BRAVE. (Here, I apologize that I have no pictures of making the gravy. This stage is fast and furious and the thing about a galley is there’s no room for a second person to help!) Place the roasting pan directly on your stove, more or less centering it over a lit burner at medium heat. When the remaining drippings begin to bubble, add as many tablespoons of flour as you have drippings…I went with about 3-4 tablespoons of each. Whisk these to combine, over medium heat.
While this gravy base comes to temperature, start the pudding. Yorkshire pudding is really sort of a popover, cooked in a bath of hot grease: place twelve muffin cups, empty, into the 400 degree oven to heat. Ten or so minutes later, take the crazy-hot tins out of the oven and add a tablespoon or two of reserved roast drippings into each of the cups, then add enough batter to fill each cup about 2/3 full. Above you see the beef fat surrounding and preparing to fry the batter like lovely little meaty donuts in reverse. Throw this back in the 400 degree oven (for 10 minutes, then reduce to 350 for another 10-20 minutes) and rescue your gravy. To the combined fat and flour in the roasting pan, add about 1-1/2 to 2 cups (depending on the thickness of gravy you desire…with a beautiful prime rib like this, I preferred thinner and went with 2 cups) of liquid, whisking constantly to try to remove/incorporate lumps of the flour paste. What liquid, you ask? Today I used beef broth, but in in past I have used combinations of broths, wine, water, and even beer…a heavy beer makes a wonderful gravy! Whisking over medium heat, add salt and pepper to taste and, if you have it, Gravy Master which seasons but most importantly darkens the gravy. When the gravy thickens adequately, remove from heat and keep warm until serving…
As happens in a galley, you improvise, sometimes happening upon a great idea. We used an insulated coffee mug instead of a gravy boat. It kept the gravy warm until and during the meal, with the lid on, and was easy to serve from!
At the twenty-or-so minute mark, check your pudding. This is what you are after! Puffed up little popover type, meat-grease-infused cups into which to pour gravy! Mind you, serve these QUICKLY as, like souflees, they will collapse…still delicious, but less impressive…the one on the back right has already begun to deflate. Arrange them for a QUICK photo like that at the top of this post, then plate them and let your captain start carving the roast.
Remove the twine and give your captain a better knife than I have! Here you can see the ribs (bottom) that have been cut from the roast by the butcher, then reattached with twine to the re-rolled roast. This allows all the flavors to cook together beautifully, but eases carving (and sending home of bones with LUCKY dog owners).
When was the last time someone served you parsnips? Good chance, never. Parsnips are a forgotten vegetable of the 1950’s farmhouse. Before that, a European Renaissance staple. Needless to say, there’s nothing “nouvelle cuisine” about parsnips. But this Galley Pirate is trying to rejuvenate the parsnip’s reputation. They have a distinct aroma and flavor unlike any vegetable, plus they are packed with Vitamin C and folic acid. And, often sold with a waxy coating which helps preserve them, they are an excellent cruising vegetable, storing in your icebox for up to a month.
This is a very simple recipe which enhances the sweet nutty flavor of the parsnip. Ingredients? Parsnips, butter, salt, pepper and sugar.
Peel 6-7 parsnips, then slice them into 1/8th inch slices lengthwise.
Melt 2-3 tablespoons of butter in a griddle or fry pan and sauté the parsnips on medium heat. Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and sugar over the parsnips. Add a little pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes until brown on one side. Flip them over and sauté on the other side.
Sprinkle salt, sugar and pepper and continue to sauté until tender.
Remove to a serving platter and serve warm with your Christmas meal or any winter dish. Galley Pirates are serving this side dish with Standing Rib Roast Dinner, posted this Friday, December 19th. Stop by…we’d love to hear from you!
What’s Christmas without a little red and a little green? This salad has both, and along with all your necessary food groups, can practically stand alone as its own meal.
Spinach, Pear & Gorgonzola Salad with Pomegranate Seeds
Salad for 4:
4 Bosc pears, under ripe
4 – 6 pieces cooked bacon, torn into bite size pieces
1 cup crumbled gorgonzola or ripe bleu cheese
4 cups baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup walnuts
4 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Herbs of Provence
Sea Salt to taste
Whisk up the vinaigrette in a small bowl or cup. Peel the pears and slice into wedges. Place in a large bowl and pour the vinaigrette over the pears. This flavors the pears and also prevents them from turning brown while you prepare the salads.
Place a cup of spinach leaves on each salad plate. Place pears wedges with a little vinaigrette equally on each bed of spinach. Then top with equal amounts of gorgonzola, bacon pieces, walnuts, and finishing with pomegranate seeds. The combination of sweet, tangy, salty and crunchy are all complimented by the vinaigrette soaked pears.
…good wine, good friends, and good will toward men. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Galley Pirates, and fair winds, following seas!