Holidays: Happy Christmas, Merry Hanukkah, ‘Peace be With You’—oh, and enough mistletoe for your Aunt Mildred to attack every cheek in a twelve mile radius. America is strewn with lights, patinaed in fake snow, and beleaguered by the smell of backcountry Vermont by way of diffusers and candles. More often than not, holidays require getting sucked into the miasma of last-minute shopping—you and the hundreds of other chumps scavenging for meaningful finds for ‘colleagues’—and attending engagements filled with all-too-forgettable family blowups and the dripping smiles of bratty kids sick with iPhone entitlement. “Let’s eat,” sounds out a powerful voice. The holiday trumpet you’ve awaited: sustenance and gut-filling glory. You plunder through ranks of relatives for the table’s best spot. You think of crackle-crusted ham, savory pudding, Ballantine of partridge, and the whisky-burn of real eggnog: the proximity pleasures of olfactory decadence whose only parallel is found in the first whiff of fresh Italian leather. And what do you get but jiggling molds of unknown chemical compounds masquerading as “fruit,” chicken inside of ham inside of chicken and all of those lukewarm, rubbery green beans swimming in an oily bath of bacon bits and limp onions; sparkling grape juice anyone?
If you’re like us, this describes the holiday nightmare: the implosion of great expectations leaving a taste in your mouth one could only describe as ‘disappointment.’ If we forgo the stress native to holiday lead-up and jump straight to the meat and potatoes, we believe the most important question—the question one must ask upon embarking on that long ride to the burbs—is undoubtedly, ‘what are we eating?’ To our dear friends at Article, eating is defined by the table: the coming together of friends and family and the friends who’ve become your family. Eating is a ritual: a gathering of energies and bodies, a moment to share laughter and lift spirits, a moment to be home even if it’s not your own. This brings us to the winter-hardened principal, a philosophy that we carry from the American leather boots used to kick-down barriers all the way to the warm and wooly nether-garments: if you’re gonna do it, do it well. Much like the cut of your blazer, or the stays in your collar, the food you eat says a lot about what kind of a person you are. Like clothing, food is a choice, a decision that requires thought and consideration. Sure, sometimes you just want a burger, but these are the holidays, a time dedicated to gratitude. And gratitude requires showing up with the good stuff—top shelf dark liquor, your Sunday best, a mint 180-gram of Bitches Brew.
In the spirit of A-game dedication, we’ve teamed up with quality-obsessed comrade, Dan Wright to blow up your traditional holiday fare in favor of culinary bliss. Eating and cooking well are not just resume points for the chef and restaurateur; they are true callings and resolutions by which to live. Dan’s restaurants (Senate, Abigail St., and Pontiac) have kept us well fed with an ever-changing array of high and lowbrow delicacies like mussels charmoula, pan roasted quail, and what has become the crown jewel of hog-slingers everywhere, the pulled pork sandwich. Dan cooks like a bullfighter, steady and without apology. His hands and intellect mine the cavities and crevices of generously-reared animals for muscle and fat with historical abandon and the gentleness required for the cleansing of delicate leafy greens. Races of garlic and oven-baked herbs cavort, pans clatter and roar and, yes, meats in tube-form sizzle and spit.
After hours, the gents at Article are want to head north on Vine Street and sidle up to one of Dan’s high-bars several nights a week, knocking back tiki drinks and cans of beer, fully prepared for the invasion of meat sweats, ears perked for tales of Chicago mayhem and international adventure.
We gave Dan free reign and told him to come with the holiday realness. Here’s what he threw down:
Dan Wright’s Christmas Rib Roast (don’t worry it’s Kosher)
Carrot: 3 large, blunt cut.
Celery: 3, blunt cut.
Onion: 3 medium, peel and quarter.
Thyme: 3 sprigs, remove leaves from stems, finely chop.
Rosemary: 2 sprigs, remove leaves from stems, finely chop.
Salt & Pepper: to season.
Rib Roast: 2-3.5lb Bone-In Rib Roast.*
Preheat oven to 450. Add mirepoix to a deep sided roasting pan. Add mirepoix (carrot, celery, onion) and set aside.
Finely chop garlic, rosemary and thyme and massage the ingredients well all over the surface of the rib roast. Coat the roast with oil and generously salt and pepper being sure not to miss any spots.
Set the rib roast on the mirepoix. Add 1/2 cup of water to the bottom of the pan; this will encourage steam, a wet heat source which will provide succulence and begin as the base for a jus that will develop as the meat cooks.
Cook the meat for 30 minutes on high heat. Reduce heat to 350. Cook until internal temperature of the meat reads 125 degrees on a digital thermometer, about 2 hours. Remove the roast from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, carefully pass the liquid from the bottom of the pan through a chinois or fine-mesh strainer. Press the vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible.
Slice Rib Roast, sprinkle with finishing salt and spoon over with pan jus.
Great with simply roasted potatoes, braised greens, cheap beer or wine from the Rhône valley.
*Meat for this Article article sourced from our dear friends at Avril Bleh and Sons—Cincinnati’s most fastidious purveyors of proteinous delicacies. We recommend anything Len and crew dry-age. Give them a ring to find out what’s curing.