Q: We cooked a standing rib roast. It was delicious as always. We used a simple rub of kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and garlic. I had saved a couple articles from the Trib that I refer to when tackling a rib roast. One featured several meat purveyors advising on how to cook their favorites. I also saved the Trib's own John Kass column on his standing rib method. Here's where the question comes in: One of the butchers suggested that the rub be applied the day before and the meat refrigerated with the rub overnight. Kass specifically counsels against that, indicating that the salt would draw out the juices if left on overnight. What's your take on this? And what would a majority of chefs suggest? I trust Kass (on cooking), but I was curious at the disparity.
--Richard Murphy, St. Charles, Ill.
A: John Kass wrote about standing rib roast in a column published Dec. 18, 2009. He shared an Italian-style recipe developed by Carolyn Meisner of Watch Hill, R.I., mother of Jason Meisner, a Tribune staff writer who was then Kass' assistant.
"Allow the roast to sit in a steel or glass pan until at room temperature, about an hour or two," he wrote, referring to the roast after it had been rubbed. "Don't refrigerate overnight. The salt will draw out the juices."
I posed your question to Tom Mylan, a butcher based in Brooklyn, N.Y., and author of the new book, "The Meat Hook Meat Book: Buy, Butcher and Cook Your Way to Better Meat" (Artisan, $37.50). Executive chef and co-owner of The Meat Hook, he champions locally sourced, sustainably-reared meat. There's a whole page devoted to various salts in his book.
"Salt is the key ingredient to making meat taste the way it should,'' wrote Mylan, who told me over the telephone that a standing rib roast can be salted up to four days ahead to allow the salt to fully permeate the meat.
"But just salt,'' he said. The chopped garlic and black pepper you call for, Richard Murphy, can develop "some weird flavors" if left on the meat that long, Mylan believes. He suggested adding any other seasonings the night before or a few hours before cooking.
A self-described "purist," who goes to great lengths to source the meat sold in his shop, Mylan is happy with just salt and pepper as seasoning. Salting the meat ahead will pull out some moisture in the roast but he's OK with that.
"You're talking a few tablespoons with a roast that size, which is statistically unimportant," said Mylan.
For readers curious about Richard Murphy's salt rub, here's the recipe as given in an e-mail: "My rub recipe is pretty simple: 1/3 cup freshly ground pepper, 1/2 cup kosher salt, 10 cloves garlic chopped. Mix it up and drizzle in olive oil until it's like a paste. We usually have seven-ribbers, and it's enough to cover top, bottom and both ends."
Here's Mrs. Meisner's rub recipe as given by Kass. The amount is enough for a four-rib roast. "If your roast is larger, add more stuff," he wrote.
"Remove the leaves from fresh rosemary (a little more than one cup) and chop them with a sharp knife,'' Kass writes. "Add eight fat cloves of roughly chopped garlic, the zest of four lemons, the juice of one lemon, a half cup of kosher salt and a quarter cop of fresh coarsely ground black pepper. Toss in a food processor. Slowly drizzle in about one-half cup of extra virgin olive oil. Spread the paste all over the roast to form a crust."
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