Thursday, July 3, 2014

Smoked Prime Rib on the Grill, Roasted Tomatoes with Pesto and Tortini of Zucchini

The lovely and extremely
talented Elizabeth Karmel
he 4th of July is upon us and there's never a better time to fire up the grill and celebrate the joy of being an American.  And there's almost nothing more American than beef.  And today I am talking serious beef, not your hamburgers and sliders but a big beautiful rib roast.  And what could be more 4th of July than cooking this King of all Roasts on the grill. So today I repeat a post from our first year: It's a menu that celebrates the holiday with the beef served with some incredibly flavorful tomatoes and a zucchini recipe that turns every plate into a piece of art. What's exciting to me is that since I first wrote this post, I came to know the author of the Prime Rib recipe, Hill Country Barbecue's Executive Chef, Elizabeth Karmel.  Elizabeth may well be familiar to those of you who watch Chopped Chef where she's been regularly pressed into service as a judge.  It turns out that Elizabeth grew up with a great friend of ours. David has had the good sense to invite Elizabeth to the Hamptons for the weekend and with her arrival, his dinner parties have topped our list of most-appreciated invitations.  Her pimento cheese, her 7 layer salads and her artichoke and spinach dip are all ambrosial.  But even before I met Elizabeth, I fell in love with her grilled Prime Rib.
       Regular readers of Chewing the Fat have heard that I do not run outdoors on the first decent day and fire up the grill.  I have the grill pans to prove it.  As a matter of fact, it sometimes takes me a little while to bring the grill up to the deck from its winter storage place in the garage.  This is fundamentally because I do not feel in complete control of the Weber.  And to me, gas is out of the question because if you’re going to use a grill, surely half of the desired result is some smoky flavor to announce where whatever you’ve cooked has come from. But not too long ago, we were having quite a big group for dinner and I wanted to serve Prime Rib. 
        Prime Rib is the key to Christmas.  I happily serve it all luscious and pink with its jus and of course, Yorkshire Pudding.   But here we were in the depths of June and I had a Prime Rib on my hands.  This is, of course, prime season for every food magazine to publish their annual Grilling Guides. And lo and behold, Saveur had a recipe for Prime Rib done on the barbecue.  Eureka!  Now our dinner would seem more seasonally appropriate.  I include Hill Country's recipe for Peach Chipotle Barbecue Sauce.  This is absolutely delicious but not absolutely necessary.  I am sure your favorite store-bought barbecue sauce will be fine.  Although, if you have the time, this one was a big hit.

It’s still early in the tomato season, but our local farm stand gets a big head start by growing some really good soil grown Plum tomatoes in their greenhouse. They’re still stand-ins for the sun-ripened beauties to come.  But one way to bring flavor to the earliest entries is to roast them.  From Ina Garten’s “How easy is that?” (Clarkson Potter 2010) comes a wonderful recipe for Roasted Tomatoes with Pesto.  Since Basil is flawless this time of year, I made my own Pesto.  Ina assures her readers that commercial will be just fine.  I am not Sandra Lee enough to believe that.  And making pesto is simple and versatile, in that you can alter the nuts you use, the hard cheese you incorporate—you can even substitute the Basil for Cilantro or Parsley or Spinach.  It keeps forever in the freezer if you make a batch that’s large enough.  So I do include the recipe for Pesto. 

Finally, there are the “Tortinos of Zucchini”.  This recipe came from the late lamented magazine “La Cucina Italiana” which I loved to read but which died earlier this year, a victim of the battle between print and new media.  La Cucina lost.  But I've kept every copy.    “Tortino” means little pie in Italian.  Minus the pastry, these cheese and zucchini treats are very pretty.  They are, however, quite labor-intensive especially when being made for 12.  However, if you are entertaining a smaller crowd, they make a great impression.  And they gave me a chance to use my stainless molds that I bought at L'Atelier des Chefs on my last trip to Paris. Here are the recipes:

Recipe for Smoked Prime Rib with Peach Chipotle Sauce from Hill Country Barbecue in New York City (30 West 26th Street, NYC,NY(Tel: 212 255 4544)

1 cup light brown sugar

¾ cup chunky peach preserves

½ cup ketchup

¼ chili sauce, such as Heinz

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup plus 1 tsp. kosher salt

2 tbsp. molasses

2 tbsp. rice vinegar

½ tsp. chipotle chile powder

1 28-oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand

¼ cup ground black pepper

2 tsp. cayenne

1 4-rib prime rib roast (about 7-8 1b.), untrimmed

1. Whisk together sugar, ½ cup peach preserves, ketchup, chili sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire, 1 tsp. salt, molasses, chile powder, and tomatoes in a 4-qt. saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat; cook, stirring, until thickened, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree; pour into a bowl and stir in remaining preserves; chill.

2. Prepare your grill using the kettle grillbullet smoker, or gas grill method, using apple wood chunks or chips. Put the remaining salt with pepper and cayenne in a bowl, and rub over prime rib. Place prime rib, fat side up, on grill grate. Maintaining a temperature of 225°-275° (if using a kettle grill or bullet smoker, replenish fire with unlit coals, as needed, to maintain temperature; see instructions), cook until a thermometer inserted in the center reads 130°, 3 – 3 ½  hours for medium-rare.

Remove prime rib from grill and let rest, loosely covered with foil, for 20 minutes before slicing. Serve with sauce on the side.

Recipe for Roasted Tomatoes with Pesto adapted from Ina Garten

12 Plum tomatoes, one for each guest

3 tablespoons good olive oil

4 teaspoons dried oregano

Kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup pesto, store-bought or homemade (recipe follows)

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Core the tomatoes and then slice them across (not through the stem) in 1/2 inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a sheet pan. Drizzle the tomatoes with the olive oil and sprinkle with the oregano, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper.

Bake the tomatoes for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven, spread each slice with pesto, and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Return the tomatoes to the oven and continue baking for 7 to 10 minutes, until the Parmesan is melted and begins to brown. Using a flat metal spatula, put the tomatoes on a serving platter, sprinkle with extra salt, and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

To make the Pesto:
1/4 cup walnuts

1/4 cup pine nuts

3 tablespoons diced garlic (9 cloves)

5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups good olive oil

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Place the walnuts, pine nuts, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process for 30 seconds. Add the basil, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use immediately or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top. Makes 4 cups.

Recipe for Tortini di Zucchini from “La Cucina Italiana” 

This recipe is for 6 tortini.   Double it for 12. 

4  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4  medium zucchini, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2  garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Fine sea salt
6  tablespoons freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Heat oven to 375 and set rack in middle of the oven.
In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, garlic, parsley and pinch salt; toss together to combine. Cook until zucchini is tender, about 3 minutes; remove from heat.

On prepared baking sheet, overlap enough of the zucchini to form 4 single-layered, 3-inch rounds. Sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon cheese. Repeat with remaining zucchini and cheese to form 4 (4-layered) tortini.



  1. Patrick and I were two of the very fortunate guest that night at Monte and Andrew's home. The meal was superb, everything was delicious ! I particularly enjoyed the "Tortinos of Zucchini", they were amazing. Andrew's lemon tart was the perfect ending to a wonderful dinner. What a treat to be with such sweet people on a beautiful summer evening........ Jay Strongwater

  2. We are overwhelmed by this post, Jay. I promise to do the Lemon Tart recipe this week. Thanks again for your wonderful comment. XOX to you and

  3. HI Monte!
    Well, it sounds like your 4th of July was a blast with some mighty tasty food I might add! Too bad I won't be visiting the city until August, lol...(and that's still up in the air:)

    I have to ask you, did you change your blog URL? I ask because I had such a problem getting here with the link I had in my sidebar. I did a google search to find you, lol and I did!

    Your celebration meal sounds wonderful with all the trimmings. I'm sure everyone was happy that you made the trek down to dig out the grill! Thanks so much for sharing, Monte. Now, of course, I'm in the mood for some Prime Rib! (although, Ina's tomatoes sound pretty darn good too:)