In my last post about Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken, I wrote about all of the things that had been going on in our life in the preceding months, adding that it was time to settle back to the business of 'normal' life. Little did I know at the time that life still had a few more doozie curve balls to throw our way.
After 8 weeks of renovations, my parents moved into the brand spanking new above-ground in-law suite in our beautiful new (to us) home on June 5th. Two weeks later, my mom was admitted into hospital for major surgery. She sailed through the process but a day after she came back home, my dad was taken to hospital via ambulance with issues. That Sunday, he passed away....exactly one month after moving in with us. And if all of that weren't heavy enough, 9 days later my only brother passed away due to complications from a fairly innocuoius procedure. Make no mistake these were momentarily crippling blows but I believe we all have a choice when terrible things happen in our lives with respect to how we perceive them and how we survive. We can either use things as an excuse for failure, or a reason for success. My family was, and I believe still is, a very tight-knit, loving group. There was nothing left unsaid and we have tremendous faith, so as difficult as the month of July has been, I know both my father and my brother would insist we all get on with the matter of not just living life but living it with ENTHUSIASM!
With that in mind, I've been itching to create something really awesome and untested, at least by me, for Sunday dinner for my family this past weekend. This past Sunday also happened to be the hottest day of the summer thusfar which ruled out cooking over a hot stove. Regular old bbq something or another would no doubt be delicious, but I felt compelled to infuse Sunday dinner with a whopping serving of enthusiasm! I often get asked where I come up with my ideas for meals and pairing things together to make a cohesive meal, and honestly, all I can say is that it just comes to me. I am always open to inspiration and most times ,that comes from the most unassuming component. All I knew this past Sunday was that I needed something Sunday dinner-worthy, aka. 'a big chunk of some kind of meat', so off to the grocery store I went to see what that might be. It came down to a toss-up between pork loin or prime rib roast. Pork can be a bit tricky when it comes to cooking time...too little and we're looking at trichonosis, too much and you've got shoe leather on your plate! I had hoped to indulge in the odd cocktail whle basking in the summer sun and babysitting a pork loin did not appeal to me, so Prime Rib Roast it was!
Prime Rib Roast, aka. Standing Rib Roast, is a cut of beef from the primal rib and is one of nine primal cuts of beef. The most tender cuts of beef, the rib and tenderlion, are the ones farthest from the horn and the hoof. By contrast, the shoulder and leg muscles are worked the most which makes them tougher. Because it's so tender, steaks and roasts from the beef primal rib are well suited for various forms of dry heat cooking....such as grilling and, in this instance, rotisserie.
I wasn't completely clairvoyant on the whole prep, seasoning and cooking plan, but a quick stroll through the produce department would surely lead me down the right path...at least I had hoped. Once in the produce department, I felt drawn to both celery root and okra, two ingredients that aren't usually combined on a plate, one Mediterranean in origin, the other disputed to originate from West Africa, Ethiopia or South Asia. But what the heck...my taste buds were in the mood for some pureed celery root AND a little Okra Succotash! Somehow I'd make it all work!
When I got home, I placed the prime rib roast on the counter and just looked at it, considering the celery root, okra, summer's day and rotisserie. I could flavour the prime rib with steak spice and rotisserie it over indirect heat with a smoke pack of apple wood chips...that could be nice. But I wanted to make it just a little more flavourful....just a little more 'Mediterranean'. A marinade....hmmmm......then it hit me! Red wine, red wine vinegar, rosemary, thyme, garlic, a little olive oil and some salt and pepper! I combined all of my ingredients, placed the prime rib in a large zipper lock baggie, poured in the marinade, sealed the bag, gave the roast a toss and let it marinade for about 3 hours in the refrigerator before taking it out and letting it rest for approximately 30 minutes before placing it on the rotisserie spit.
The Mediterranean Celery Root Puree would take 20 minutes to cook the celery root, and another 5 minutes or so to puree. The Okra Succotash, probably about 30 to 40 minutes all in, so I had a few hours to sit back on the lounger in my backyard, catch up on some reading and just relax.
I planned on serving dinner around 6:30/7:00 and the roast would take approximately 1.5 to 2.0 hours to cook, so I removed it from the refrigerator around 4 pm to let the temperature come up to room temp - this allows for a more tender end product. To place any meat directly on heat from the cold makes it seize up a bit from the temperature shock. While the meat was resting, I soaked about 4 cups of apple wood chips in water. (I bought a small bag of apple wood chips at my local grocery store but I know you can also get them at most hardware stores where they sell grills and accessories). I then squeezed out as much water as I could with half of the chips and placed them on a sheet of aluminum foil which I wrapped up into a packet, poking holes into the foil with a fork. I did the same thing with the remaining chips. My plan was to use one packet for the first hour and the second for the remaining cooking time. (The wood chips dry out pretty quickly which is great for the 'smoke' flavouring, but eventually, they will ignite....smoke I wanted, a fire I did not!)
I then fit the rotisserie mechanism onto my grill and preheated the grill until around 450 degrees Fahrenheit. I positioned the roast on the spit for the rotisserie, placed the first apple wood smoke pack on the hot part of the grill, and positioned the spit so that the roast would be cooked over the part of the grill that was not turned on....roasting the roast over indirect heat. I placed a drip pan under the roast with a little of the marinade to baste the roast periodically and generously sprinkled steak spice all over the meat, patting it in lightly. For the next hour, I just let the grill and rotisserie do their thing with the cover down on my grill. The aromas that filled our backyard were simply incredible! Neighbours actually asked over the fence what I was cooking! After the one hour mark, I basted the roast with the marinade, changed out the smoke packs and covered th grill again.
I then started prepping the celery root and the okra, both of which are absolute powerhouses of nutrition. Celery root is high if protein and fiber, low in starch and carbs, and is rich in vitamins A, C, K and E, essential oils, carotene, microelements and other nutrients. It has an excellent calming, analgesic, anbtiseptic, anti-allergy and other therapeutic properties. Studies show regular consumption of celery root improves liver and bladder function, improves vision, boosts metabolism and as a natural aphrodisiac, it improves stamina too! Okra, too, is a nutrional powerhouse used throughout history for both medicinal and culinary purposes. Okra is rich in numerous vitamns, minerals and nutrients such as vitamins C, A, K, B3, B1, B6, folate, magnesium, manganese, beta carotene and lutein. Okra reportedly promotes healthy pregnancy, helps prevent diabetes, regular consumption can prevent kidney disease, promotes colon health, helps with respiratory issues such as asthma and promotes healthy skin.
For the celery root puree, I just simply peel the celery root, ,cut it into 2-3 inch chunks, place it in a pot, cover with water and squeeze in the juice of one fresh lemon. When the celery root is soft and therefore cooked, I drain the water off, place the celery root in my blender, add in about 1/2 - 3/4 c. low fat milk ,a little roasted garlic, some freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and about 1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese. Then I just puree until the mixture is creamy and smooth, returning it to the saucepan, cover and let stay warm over very low heat.
For the Okra Succotash, I crisped up two strips of applewood smoked bacon (I just happened to have some on hand....you can use any kind of bacon ,or for an extra little twist, pancetta!). After removing the bacon, leaving about 1 Tbsp bacon fat, I aded in a Tbsp of butter, and sauteed 1 small onion and 2 cloves of garlic just until the onion was soft. I then stirred in about 8 oz. okra cut into 1/2" pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper, covered and let the okra cook through on low heat for about 15 minutes. I then added in about a pint of cherry tomatoes cut in half and let that cook uncovered for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. I then reduced the heat, added the crumled bacon, about 2 Tbsp of finely chopped fresh basil and squeezed in the juice of half a fresh lime.
By this time, my roast was cooked. I removed it from the grill and let it sit, tented in foil, for about 5 - 10 minutes before carving.
Or how about from this angle?
Awesome looking right? The perfect degree of doneness in my opinion! To plate, I placed a few slices of Applewood Smoked Rotisserie Prime Rib Roast (there's a mouthful!), on the plate. Next a healthy helping of Mediterranean Pureed Celery Root, drizzled with olive oil and topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese (I just love that stuff!). Lastly but certainly not least, Okra Succotash!
I want you to just take a moment to consider all of the aromas here: applewood smoke, grilled beef that's been marinated in red wine, rosemary, thyme and garlic, bacon, tomatoes, onion, roasted garlic, parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil. Now...imagine all of those fantastic flavours dancing on your tongue. Are you salivating yet? Trust me...this dish was as absolutely delicious as it was decadent and, dare I say it, impressive! There's no real toiling away over a hot stove, or hours of dedicated cooking time....a little prep, unsupervised cooking for the most part, and voila! An incredible meal!