Winter is upon us. For me, it is a much-loved time of year to entertain. Bringing family and friends together to break bread and sip a glass of wine is enchanting. Here are two of our family’s winter favorites; Prime Rib and Gorgonzola Mac n’ Cheese along with suggested wine pairings.
Prime Rib is a favorite cut of beef for an elegant meal. It is a naturally tender and well-marbled piece of meat. A good rule of thumb when selecting your size is a “three rib” roast serves 6-8. Each additional “rib” adds two more servings. The largest you can purchase is 7 ribs, which serves up to 14 guests. Ask for a roast cut from the loin end, it has the largest rib eye steak and tenderness.
For preparation, our favorite method is under high heat. My friend Jon shared his mother’s secret recipe. Simply preheat your oven to 500 degrees F. Bring your roast to room temperature. Season with a layer of rock salt. Place the roast on a rack inside of a roasting pan, fat side up. Add an inch of water to the bottom of the roasting pan. Roast for one hour at 500 degrees, and then turn the oven off. Leave the Prime Rib in the oven, no peaking, for two more hours. Upon removal from the oven crack off the layer of rock salt. The result, for any size roast, is a beautifully prepared Medium-Rare masterpiece.
For Prime Rib, red meat with red wine is a match made in heaven. Our family travels to Wine County often, it is our vacation of choice. We have discovered some lovely regions and varietals. To enhance the flavors of this meat, I would pair the elegant dish with an sophisticated Oregon Pinot Noir or California Cabernet Sauvignon from the Carneros region. They blend beautifully with the succulent texture and flavor of the meat.
For a friendly gathering, a Gorgonzola Mac n’ Cheese is in order. After ordering this dish at a local Steak House, I called the Chef to ask for the recipe. Here is what he imparted.
For preparation, cook 1 pound of pasta till slightly firm, set aside. Melt ½ cup of unsalted butter in a large saucepan over low heat; add ½ cup of flour, stirring until smooth. Gradually add 4 cups of room temperature whole milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sauce has thickened. Add your cheeses; 2 cups Mozzarella, 2 cups Fontina, 1/8 cup Blue Cheese and 1/4 cup Gorgonzola. Stir until the cheese melts, then season with 2 teaspoons of salt. Add your pasta to combine, then pour the mixture into a lightly greased 13×9 baking dish. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then serve.
A wine pairing suggestion for this dish would be a notable Italian Chianti or a complementary wine such as a Sonoma County Chardonnay.
Both dishes are simple yet satisfying, particularly a treat in cold-weather months. Remember a well-chosen wine can elevate any occasion, whether you are planning an elegant spread or a friendly gathering. Stay warm and bon appetit!