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Feast and Be Merry

“Booooh, Haman!  Booooh, Haman!” my toddler shouted, fingers waving in the air.  He’s only two, but he knows that Purim is coming, and boy is he excited.  Purim, the joyous festival commemorating the turnabout of events that resulted in the salvation of the Jews in Persia from certain annihilation, will be celebrated this coming Sunday.  Each year, we celebrate the day through four mitzvot prescribed by Mordechai in the Book of Esther, four acts meant to engender joy and gladness amongst the Jewish People:  publicly reading the megillah (Book of Esther), giving one another gifts of food and drink, giving charity to the poor and enjoying a celebratory meal.

Feasting and drinking were paramount in the kingdom of Ahashverosh, the king of Persia.  Parties would extend for days and weeks; the extravagance knew no bounds.  Such was the backdrop of Haman’s evil schemes and plans to destroy the Jews.  Purim is about recognizing the hidden miracles threaded throughout the story of our survival, the Divine Hand that can turn the self-same lavish feasts used to plot our destruction into a cause for elation and thanksgiving.  The se’udah (meal) should resemble a feast with all the trimmings: the best of what is within a person’s means.  Traditionally, meat and wine are served, as it says in the Talmud, “Ein simcha elah bebasar…beyayin – There is no real rejoicing without meat and wine.”  The point is not gluttony.  The point is to elevate the mundane, dedicating the physical toward a spiritual end.

Masks and costumes, groggers (noise-makers) in hand, our Purim planning is well under way.   A special day calls for a special dish and I am pulling out all the stops.  Nothing says “banquet” like a big ‘ole rib roast.  There is something regal about the look of rib bones peeking out from the succulent meat, a stunning presentation.  What’s more, you can really choose how big of a rib roast to serve based on the numbers of guests – a smaller roast (with just a couple of ribs) for a few guests, or a large roast (with 4-7 ribs) for a crowd.  The following recipe is easily doubled – don’t double cooking times, though; rather, adjust cooking time based on internal temperature (a meat thermometer is indispensible for this).

Enjoy the day, eat lots of Hamantashen, and have a very Happy Purim!

-Naomi Ross and the Park East Kosher Family

Porcini-Crusted Rib Roast with Wild Mushroom & Shallot Ragout

A standing rib roast is a prime cut of meat from the rib section, bone-in.  Its well-marbled meat makes it ideal for dry roasting, leaving a delectable caramelized crust on the exterior, but juicy and moist on the inside. This cut is best served rare, so don’t be afraid when you see pink!

Serves 6.

  1. 2 oz. (about 1/3 cup) dried porcini mushrooms
  2. 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  3. 1½ tsp. chopped fresh thyme (from about 2-3 sprigs)
  4. 1 tsp. kosher salt
  5. ½ tsp. black pepper
  6. 2 tbsp. olive oil
  7. 1 [4-lb.] rib roast (with 2 rib bones), fat trimmed
  8. Wild Mushroom & Shallot Ragout (recipe below)
  9. 1 tbsp. flour
  10. 1½ cups low-sodium beef stock
  11. 1½ cups dry red wine (I like Cabernet here)

 

Directions:

Place mushrooms, garlic, spices and oil in the bowl of a food processor fitted with an “S” blade.  Process until all ingredients are ground up, and consistency resembles a paste.  Rub mixture all over the roast, spreading as even a coating as possible.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place roast fat-side up on a rack placed in a flameproof 9×13 roasting pan. Roast for 20 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and continue to roast until a thermometer inserted straight down into the top center reaches 130 degrees (for medium-rare), about 1½ hours.  While the roast is cooking, prepare the Mushroom and Shallot Ragout (you will need it for the next steps).

Transfer roast to a cutting board.  Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Skim any fat from the top of the pan juices and transfer 1 tablespoon of fat to a small bowl.   Mix 1 tablespoon flour into the reserved fat until a smooth paste forms.  Set aside.  Reserve any juices in roasting pan.

Set roasting pan atop a burner over medium-high heat. Add reserved porcini soaking liquid (from ragout recipe below), broth, and wine; bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits.  Continue to boil until reduced by approximately half (about 8 minutes).  Add Mushroom and Shallot Ragout and stir to blend. Bring mixture back to a boil.  Add the fat-flour mixture, whisking constantly until incorporated.  Continue to cook on medium-high heat until sauce thickens, about 5-7 minutes. Season sauce to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

To serve, either place the whole roast on a serving platter for a stunning presentation, carving tableside, or slice in the kitchen and arrange the slices on the serving platter.  Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs.  Serve with Mushroom & Shallot sauce on the side or spooned over the roast.

Wild Mushroom & Shallot Ragout

This mushroom sauté can be served by itself as a flavorful side dish or used as a wonderful gravy base, as in the recipe above.  Ragout can be made up to a day in advance.

  1. 1 cup boiling water
  2. 1½ oz. (about ¼ cup) dried porcini or other dried mushrooms
  3. 2 tbsp. olive oil
  4. 2½ cups sliced shallots (about 7)
  5. 12 oz. assorted sliced fresh wild mushrooms (oyster, chanterelle, shitake, just to name a few…)
  6. 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  7. 1½ tsp. chopped fresh thyme (from about 2-3 sprigs)
  8. ½ tsp. kosher salt
  9. Freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions:

DO AHEAD: Combine 1 cup boiling water in a small bowl with the dried mushrooms.  Set aside and allow mushrooms to soak for about 30 minutes.  Strain mushrooms, reserving and setting mushroom water aside for later use.  Coarsely chop mushrooms and set aside.

Heat olive oil in large, deep skillet over medium-high heat.  Add shallots and sauté until shallots are translucent and just beginning to brown, about 5-7 minutes.  Add garlic and continue to cook for another minute, stirring to blend.  Add dried mushrooms, fresh wild mushrooms, chopped thyme and salt.  Stir to blend and sauté until mushrooms are wilted and mixture is reduced, about 8-10 minutes.  Season to taste with plenty of freshly ground black pepper and more salt, if necessary.

 

By Naomi Ross

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