Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012 La Cena de Für Elise Navidad, at Rancho Winslow

We convened at Rancho Winslow for the annual Xmas dinner, again this year adopting the theme of the prime rib. There was a Nolan Ryan President’s Cut 6-bone that had been seasoned the night before, and brought out of the fridge several hours early before it sacrificed itself to an 8-hour excursion in a 220° F oven. That’s how we used to cook the herds of prime ribs that we served at Pelican’s Wharf, way back in the day. Low and slow. Low and slow.
I have to criticize Nolan’s meat cutters: they left bits of the chine bone on the meat, which presented some challenges carving the roasted slab. A 109A prime rib back in the days of good meat would never have any chine left on. Other than negotiating those chine bones, carving was a breeze using Robert “Empty Leg” Abraham’s family heirloom razor-sharp carbon steel antique carving set. Also attending besides Roberto and I were Sarah and Elan (sic…sorry if it’s spelled wrong), Princess Di and C-Boy, Jules, Jeffrey “Brainiac” Barnes (the rock star sax genius of Brave Combo and Diane’s brother) and the lovely and petite Gina, and Grandma Nancy. Hershey once again proved she was the best of the Rancho perros; far superior to Toby and Raleigh.

On the side was a groaning board of a three layer Italian cheese terrine, a wheel of brie, assorted Xmas cookies, amaretto Jordan almonds, chocolate covered dried cranberries, mega-sized kettle corn (never seen popcorn that big), three types of crackers, yogurt pretzels, assorted nuts, spicy walnuts with rosemary, wasabi peas, etc., etc.; all designed to ruin an appetite.

There was a fruit plate, of juicy seedless grapes, sweet, aromatic pineapple, and ripe strawberries to munch on.

Di whipped up her famous twice baked stuffed potatoes: huge Idaho’s baked, scooped, mixed with cheddar, scallion, sour cream, and bacon, then stuffed back in, and topped with paprika. Here’s a shot of them before their second baking.


I missed a shot of the roasted asparagus, but you’ll have to trust me. I made a sauce of roasted beef bone beef stock, some brandy, with crimini mushrooms, shitake mushrooms, and roasted garlic. Due to the excitement I forgot to mount the sauce with butter before service, but it was plenty rich on it’s own and didn’t need it.


I cooked a huge wad of sautéed mushrooms, with shallots and butter.

Jules constructed a nice romaine salad with ripe garden tomatoes, cucumber, shredded carrots, and red onion, and there was an assortment of dressings (chunky blue cheese seemed to be the winner).


The roast was gorgeous, tender, juicy, and tender; damn near perfect with the mushroom gravy draped over the top. There was a trio of dinner rolls to sop up the delicious juices with, white, wheat, and dark whole grain.

Jeffrey made a crowd favorite chocolate-cherry drop cake and Gina made a rich chocolate fondue for dipping gingerbread marshmallows into. There was also fresh gingerbread and some leftover pobre caballero. We ate like kings, until we couldn’t eat any more.  Robert brought an assortment of wines (whose names escape me), but there was a superlative Rhiengau, a Rousson (nice once it breathed a bit), and a great Spanish garnacha. There was Shiner Wild Hare Pale Ale, and 1554 Black Ale from New Belgium Brewers. We drank well. It was Xmas at Rancho Winslow and it was good…very, very good. Outside the cold wind howled, inside the fireplace crackled and we grunted with satisfaction and glee.


Mick Vann ©    

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