Categories
Ad Hoc beef recipes Thomas Keller

Cook the Book: Ad Hoc at Home – Blowtorch Prime Rib

When I first saw the Blowtorch Prime Rib recipe in the Ad Hoc at Home cookbook, I knew I was going to make it for Christmas dinner. But this technique is so easy, there is no reason to save it for special occasions.

Blowtorching Prime RibBlowtorching meat is fun!

Of course, the first step is actually buying a blowtorch, and there are several options available. My first choice was the Iwatani Professional Torch Burner because it’s compact and just plain looks cool. The butane cartridges are proprietary, but with all the Asian markets near me, they’re not hard to find. Being the chronic procrastinator that I am, I had to settle for what was available down the street at Lowes. The BernzOmatic TS3000 was cheap (~$26), came with a big can of propane called the “Fat Boy,” and I love the name BernzOmatic. :)

The BernzOmatic TS3000The lovely blue flame produced by the BernzOmatic TS3000.

Roasting the prime rib can be broken down to three steps. I used a 2-bone, 4½-pound standing rib roast that easily fed 6 adults, but you could use this technique with any size roast.

  1. Place the rib roast on a rack in a roasting pan and sear the meat with the blowtorch until it starts turning gray and the fat starts rendering.
  2. Season the rib roast with generous amounts of kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper.
  3. Roast in 275F oven until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 128F. For our 4½-pound roast, this took about two hours. I use a digital probe thermometer so that I can monitor the temperature of the meat without opening the oven.
Out of the Oven, Bones RemovedThe blowtorch jumpstarts the development of the crust
that’s characteristic of good prime rib.

Roasting the meat at a low temperature ensures a beautiful shade of pink all the way through the meat. Rest the meat for at least 30 minutes before cutting into it.

Perfect Medium RarePerfect medium rare after resting for 40 minutes.

Since everything at Ad Hoc is served family style, the prime rib is cut into thick chunks instead of more traditional individual slices. I think this allows a smaller rib roast to serve more people and cuts down on wasted meat, especially if there are light eaters at the table who can’t finish a whole slice of regular prime rib.

To serve the meat, cut the roast in half down the center and put the meat cut side down on the cutting board. Then cut each half into ½-inch slices. I think serving the meat this way is great because each piece is thick and has a lot of crust. Before bringing the meat to the table drizzle it with a little fleur de sel or kosher salt and some coarsely ground pepper.

Blowtorched Prime Rib with Horseradish Cream Blowtorched prime rib with horseradish cream

The low cooking temperature means that there’s hardly any drippings in the bottom of the pan to make jus, but you don’t need it. The meat’s beefiness comes through loud and clear, and it goes beautifully with this horseradish cream.

Horseradish Cream (adapted from Ad Hoc at Home)
½ cup very cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
¼ cup drained, prepared horseradish
½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Put the heavy cream and vinegar in a bowl in a medium bowl and whisk until the cream and holds a soft shape (just before soft peaks). Whisk in horseradish, salt, and pepper until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for up to a week.

Categories
Ad Hoc cookbooks Thomas Keller

A Morning with Thomas Keller: Ad Hoc at Home Book Signing

Ad Hoc hosted a special book signing event called “A Morning with Thomas Keller” at the restaurant yesterday, and I was lucky enough to get an invitation. Chef Keller spent the morning signing Ad Hoc at Home cookbooks alongside Ad Hoc Chef de Cuisine Dave Cruz as the Ad Hoc staff served up hors d’oeuvres featuring selected recipes from the cookbook.

InvitationThe Invitation

It was an exciting day for me because I finally got to meet Thomas Keller and shake the hand of a man whose restaurants have changed my life. As I’ve written before, my first meal at Ad Hoc in June 2007 was a major culinary epiphany for me. It changed the way I thought about how food was prepared and sourced, and it made me appreciate a level of dining that I normally would’ve avoided based solely on cost.

Plowing through booksAd Hoc Chef de Cuisine Dave Cruz (left) and Chef Thomas Keller

When I approached the table, Chef Cruz leaned over and told Chef Keller about my blog and the Ad Hoc Menu Archive. I told Chef Keller about our dinner at the brand-new Bouchon Beverly Hills last weekend (took my mom for her birthday), and he was glad to know we had a great dinner. I also let him know that the entire city of Los Angeles is anxiously awaiting the arrival of Bouchon Bakery. He didn’t really respond to that, but I think he knows that LA wants that bakery. :)

Meeting Thomas Keller...Is he really interested in what I’m saying or does he think I’m a crazy fanboy?

In the end, Chef Keller shook my hand, thanked me for all the support and graciously posed for a picture. Thanks, Simone for snapping this pic. :)

I think this moment could only be topped if I ever met Magic Johnson. :)

Now that that’s out of the way…on to the food! The first thing we were offered were the Albondigas, a veal meatball atop a tomato compote. Unfortunately, I was too busy devouring these to take a picture. Here’s the rest of the spread…

Toast with Fig JamToast with Fig Jam

It’s not really an Ad Hoc party without some fried chicken.

Fried Chicken LollipopsFried Chicken Lollipops
Beef StroganoffA bit of beef stroganoff.

The ratatouille was a simple and brilliant spoonful of soffrito topped with tomato confit, eggplant confit, and zucchini confit.

RatatouilleRatatouille as you’ve never seen it before.

The lemon bars were like mini lemon meringue pies but also reminded me one of my favorite desserts, Bouchon’s Tarte au Citron.

Lemon BarsPerfect Little Lemon Bars

What more do you need when there’s chocolate cupcakes?

Chocolate CupcakesChocolate Cupcakes

Overall, it was a really fun event, and I was honored to have been invited. Thanks to everyone at Ad Hoc for always making me feel at home. Here’s the full set of pictures:


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Categories
Ad Hoc cookbooks reviews steak The French Laundry Thomas Keller

Cook the Book: Ad Hoc at Home – Asparagus and Steak

Ad Hoc at HomeI’ve never been genuinely excited about a new cookbook release, but Ad Hoc at Home marks the first time I’ve had a real personal connection to the recipes in a single cookbook. Inuyaki readers know that I’m a fan and regular diner at Thomas Keller’s casual dining restaurant, and the Ad Hoc Menu Archive is one of the most popular features of this site. My wife and I have been to Ad Hoc 30 times in the last 2½ years (it’s our favorite restaurant) and have always come away wishing we knew how to make some of our favorite dishes, desserts, and condiments at home. I’m very happy to report that Ad Hoc at Home delivers the goods.

The cookbook’s arrival coincided with my birthday, and to celebrate, I invited some friends over for dinner last weekend so that my wife and I could cook for them. From the book, we chose the grilled asparagus and marinated skirt steak and supplemented the meal with polenta topped with a mushroom ragout and SavorySweetLife’s chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

The grilled asparagus, which includes prosciutto, fried bread, poached egg, and aged balsamic vinegar, is pretty easy to put together. After removing the woody bottoms and peeling the asparagus stalks, simply season a couple bunches of asparagus with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and canola oil and then grill them for a couple minutes per side until tender.

AsparagusGratuitous Asparagus Porn

I had some issues poaching the eggs. I know this sounds silly, but they weren’t coming out as pretty as we wanted, so those eggs became snacks. Inspired by our meal at Commis in Oakland a couple nights before, I decided to have some fun and make 63-degree eggs. How is a 63-degree egg different than a regular poached egg or over-easy egg? The answer: texture.

63 Degree EggA 63-degree Egg

At 63-degrees Celsius, egg whites are just barely set and the yolks have a pudding-like consistency. To achieve this goal, eggs are cooked in a 63C waterbath for about an hour. The precision is important because at 65C, according Harold McGee, the egg whites become “tender solid” as opposed just barely set at 63C. It’s possible to maintain a consistent temperature using a pot on the stovetop, but I have an immersion circulator, which makes things a lot easier. :)

63-degree Eggs
The immersion circulator in action.

The eggs went on the plate last, so my friends got to see these beautiful eggs emerge from a freshly cracked shell. My wife gets credit for the plating of this dish, which is loosely based on the picture in the book.

Grilled Asparagus, Prosciutto, 63-degree Egg and Torn CroutonsThe fried bread croutons are awesome, too.

The marinated skirt steak isn’t a difficult preparation either. I substituted the skirt for flap steak, which is similar to skirt steak and a cut of meat I’ve used before in my Bistek Tagalog. It’s marinated for at least four hours in a mixture of olive oil, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, peppercorns, and garlic. The meat is seared in a thin layer of oil for about 90 seconds total, adding thyme and butter to the pan and basting the meat after flipping it halfway through. After searing, the meat is placed in a 350 oven on a roasting rack and cooked for 8-10 minutes until the internal temp of the meat is 125F. Rest the meat and slice it vertically against the grain before serving.

Marinated Skirt Steak

That meat looks perfect doesn’t it? There was just one problem. I forgot to season the meat with salt and pepper before I seared it, so it was underseasoned. There was still flavor from the marinade, but the meat was definitely lacking flavor. I was crestfallen. My wife saved the dish by making an impromptu beef/mushroom gravy, but I was so disappointed with myself.

We paired this with some Fra’Mani polenta (sold exclusively at Costco) topped with a trumpet and baby shiitake mushroom ragout. I know polenta is pretty easy to make, but as fans of Paul Bertolli’s Fra’Mani sausages, we had to give his polenta a try and it’s really good. My wife added some strong English cheddar to the polenta for some extra flavor and topped it with the mushrooms.

Fra'Mani Polenta and Mushroom "Ragout"

Aside from the underseasoned steak, which was totally my fault, this meal was a huge success and a testament to Ad Hoc at Home’s accessibility for home cooks. It’s a tribute to Keller and his love for good, homey food, as well as chef de cuisine Dave Cruz, whose influence is present in every meal in the Ad Hoc kitchen. According to Ad Hoc general manager Nick Dedier, Ad Hoc at Home is projected to surpass the 10-year-old French Laundry cookbook’s total sales in just three years. With food like this, it should surprise no one when it actually happens.