Is there any doubt that food binds a community together? Whether it’s Christmas dinner or a 4th of July picnic, our best dining is generally part of an ecosystem of relationships… our relationships to one another, and to the food, in preparation, presentation, and ingestation. Although I work for a relatively large company, our “branch” location in the metropolis of Skowhegan, Maine, is a close-knit group. There are roughly 30 of us there. We all know each other well. We’re friends and family. We know each others’ kids.
So when we found out that a friend and coworker was coming back to our campus for a visit, well, it was time to eat!
I wanted to reprise my smoked paprika chicken, as I had tweaked the recipe a bit to give them more kick. Check, that’s on the menu. However, some of the folks wanted a reprise of the Great Brisket Experiment of 2012. That involved an overnight stay at the office (our Big Green Egg is courtesy of our friends at our corporate location in Nashville), and lots of mistakes! Well, why not? One of the blokes got his hands on 15 pounds of rib eye roast… let’s get that again… 15 pounds of rib eye roast! And I, I took the road traveled by the freaking butcher! The thing was beautiful… and was delivered Wednesday morning for a Thursday lunch.
Okay, so letting it be suspended in mid-air to age for a week was out… I decided to go with a variation on a wet rub I’d used before… based mostly on sweet Vidalia onions, which I thought would stand in nice contrast to the now spicy paprika chicken. Why not a simple dry rub? Well, because I wasn’t in the mood for that.
Lunch had to be served at 1pm. I wanted the roast to rest for 45 minutes prior. I wanted to “reverse sear” the roast for 30 minutes before that… and so on. I had to determine when it need to go on the BGE. I knew I wanted to smoke it between 220F and 250F for at least several hours, but to answer the question of when to put it on, I had to turn to Isaac Newton and his Law of Cooling. I’m going to write a whole separate post about that, because I love math… and I got to combine differential calculus with rib eye roast! How much more perfect could applied mathematics really be?
Well, here’s what I did:
Make onion glaze. Cut hash marks in fatty side of the roast. Rub glaze all over that roast. I mean, all over. Yeah, there. Ooh, there too! Turn roast fatty side down, cover and sit it in fridge overnight. Remove from fridge 2-3 hours before smoking.
Ingredients (for onion glaze)
2 Vidalia onions, cut into rough chunks
1 c dark brown sugar
1/4 c Worcestershire sauce
4 T fresh ground black pepper
2 T kosher salt
1 T crushed red pepper flakes
Put all ingredients into blender. Slowly pulse until you can run it on blend or puree, or whatever setting you like. I like to leave it a little chunky. Glaze is done.
So, on the Big Green Egg, I filled up the fire box and got it all going. Got it hovering at 300F, then threw on two big hand-fulls of mesquite wood chips. Immediately put down the drain pan (which also acted as an indirect heat diffuser) and the grill, then added the roast, and closed up the Egg. This was at 06:30. I had been in the office since 04:00, doing work while waiting for the roast to come up from 38F internal after all night in the fridge! Then began the “it’s been 30 minutes… time to check the Egg” process. Only a few adjustments were needed.
At 11:45, I pulled the roast off the Egg, got it up to 500F, added more mesquite, and put the roast back on. The smoke billowing from the chimney just made me feel happy… and at this point in the morning, I smelled entirely of smoke! I closed all the vents, and just let it stew in smokey goodness for another half hour, at which point I removed it from the Egg and brought it inside.
Once inside, it went right onto a cooling rack (a rack is important to not steam the bottom of the roast, thus opening passages for the loss of juices) over a tray, and it sat uncovered for 15 minutes. It was now 12:30… right on schedule! For the remaining 30 minutes, the roast sat under a foil tent… and once everyone started to arrive, well, we just had to cut into it, didn’t we?
[Photo credits: Derek Price (me and the Egg), and Wanda Clowater (the sliced roast)].