Several readers requested the recipe for the Rib-Eye Roast mentioned in yesterday's Hanukkah blog. The editors at Gourmet magazine, where the recipe first appeared, had this to say about that..."A wonderfully salty exterior and a hint of dill make this easy-to-prepare roast one of the best we've ever tasted." I'm not sure how this idea first came to me, to "cure" a hunk of raw beef in the same way you would cure a tranche of salmon, gravlax-style. What was I thinking? Perhaps I imagined a kind of carpaccio that could be sliced paper-thin and served raw. But I nixed that idea and decided to roast the meat instead: the method produced very juicy, vibrant red flesh with a slightly caramelized, herbaceous crust. And it is stunningly simple to make. The most difficult part of this recipe, it seems, is to get the right piece of meat. In the Gourmet recipe I used a rib-eye roast that had plenty of marbling. Retooled for Radically Simple (11 years later), I used a boneless rib roast. No one in my neighborhood seemed able to accommodate my request for a 3-1/2 pound rib-eye, rolled and tied. Whichever cut you find, however, will yield great results.
Gravlax, a Scandanavian preparation usually meant for salmon, literally means "buried" in a mixture of coarse salt, sugar, fresh dill, and cracked black pepper. According to the Oxford Companion of Food, the preparation can be traced back to 1348. The salmon is wrapped in plastic and weighted down for a period of 24 hours to three days. Not only does the flavor get absorbed but the texture is altered as most of the inherent liquid is released to become a kind of brine. I apply exactly the same method to the meat. With gravlax, the salmon is served uncooked. In my recipe, the beef is roasted at 400 degrees for approximately 1-1/4 hours at which time perfection is achieved.
Start your prep one day in advance and make sure the meat is at room temperature before you cook it. You might want to try it during one of the remaining nights of Hanukkah because it is delicious with latkes.
Rib Roast in the Style of Gravlax 1/4 cup kosher salt 3 tablespoons sugar 1-1/2 teaspoons coarsely cracked black pepper 3-1/2 pound boneless rib roast, rolled and tied 1 cup chopped fresh dill
Stir together the salt, sugar, and pepper in a small bowl; rub all over the beef. Put the dill over the salt mixture. Wrap the beef tightly in plastic wrap. Make a small hole in the bottom of the plastic so that any liquid around the beef can drain. Place in a small roasting pan and weight down with a baking sheet topped with a few large heavy cans. Refrigerate 24 hours. Unwrap the beef; let sit at room temperature 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Scrape the coating off the beef and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a shallow roasting pan. Roast in the middle of the oven 1-1/4 hours; until an instant-read thermometer registers 130 degrees for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and tent with foil. Let rest 10 to 15 minutes. Carve as desired. Serves 8