Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Summer Vacations, Supper Club Fish Fry Friday's and Prime Rib Saturday's

Grandpa's Place "Northern Haven"
During the summer months our family was fortunate enough to have access to my Grandfathers summer home, cottage and boats. During the 70's and 80's the North wood's was in it's heyday. The economy and life was good. 
As we grew older our parents were finally able to buy their own lakefront summer home. My dad quickly went to work clearing trees and weeds, drilling a well, added a pier. The boat we already had. 
Château Au Bord Du Lac
It was "Up North" where we first experienced "Supper Clubs." A Supper Club was not just a restaurant where you enjoyed a nice meal, it was a one-stop destination for a night out on the town, or the lake depending on how you got there. Most of them had a lounge, with entertainment, a restaurant with a salad bar, and sometimes a game room and kiddie cocktails to keep the children busy while the parents enjoyed a couple of cocktails while socializing, and swapped tall tails about the huge fish that got away. Those were some of the biggest fish I ever heard about, other than Moby Dick, or Jaws.
Look what I caught
We did a lot of fishing in my family but rarely ate the fish we caught. We were more into catch and release fishing. The theory was that if you release them now you can catch them again when they are bigger.  On Friday's it was usually a fish fry. More often than not it was all-you-can-eat affair. I think the salad bar was a tool to fill guests up so they weren't real hungry for the all-you-can-eat fish fry. On Saturday's the main menu item was Prime Rib of Beef au jus. Generally there were three sizes, King, Queen, and Petite. They really know how to cook a Prime Rib in Wisconsin.
Friday Night Fish Fry
To the men in our family Prime Rib was a way to release the carnivore within.  Of course there were other things on the menu like steaks, lobster tails, chicken and BBQ ribs. Usually the women opted for something else, like lobster tails. Why not, we were on vacation. Every now and then there is a genuine Wisconsin fish boil.
Prime Rib of Beef au jus
I don't know if it was the fresh air, the smell of pine trees, the spring fed water, fishing, water skiing, sunburn, one or two cocktails, or just playing hard, we took a lot of naps.
Wet Ribs of course!
For those of you who don't know, in my opinion, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan have got  to be the largest concentration of "Supper Clubs" in the Midwest. Harder to find in Illinois, every now and then we cross into Wisconsin and search one out. The supper club generally serves good food and is affordable for most.
3 bone standing rib roast on the grill. This should feed six people
So when was your last great fish-fry or prime rib dinner? I have a list of places that I would love to go for dinner if I could afford it. On my current list is "Lawry's The Prime Rib" in Chicago. Check out their recipes online at
Creamed spinach or creamed corn a match made in heaven

The second place on my list is a recent addition after seeing Ward's House of Prime in Milwaukee and Delafield, Wisconsin featured on the Travel Channel. Their  link ( If you want more information about Ward's House of Prime, check out their two locations online at

Intimidating isn't it? Expensive too!
For me, making a prime rib is something that I have always considered out of my comfort zone, and certainly way over my budget. I've said it before, fear is not an option. The first thing that I discovered was that it is almost impossible to get meat that is USDA graded "Prime." Most of the Prime meat is headed to a fine restaurant near you. That's okay. A "Choice" standing rib roast will do. I still call it Prime Rib and so do most people.
11.75 pound 4 bone standing rib roast cut in half ($5.99 lb)

How much standing rib roast do you need anyway? A good way to decide is to determine how many people you will be serving. As I said before, in a Supper Club they might offer a "King, Queen or Petite" size cut. Generally speaking when you buy the roast the butcher may ask how many bones you want. A rule of thumb is that one bone will serve two hungry people. If your local butcher is agreeable, have him cut the rib bones almost off and then tie them back on. This will make carving easier later.
Cut the ribs partially off. Season well.
The bones add flavor to the roast and the flap allows you to season the area between the bottom of the roast and the bones. Tie them back on before seasoning the outside. The bones are also a great next day snack as a reward for your cooking the roast. Just heat them in the oven until tender and then slather with your favorite BBQ sauce and enjoy.
Lawry's Seasoned Salt, Pepper and garlic is a good choice.
When it comes to seasoning there are so many suggestions out there. It really gets down to how you like your Prime Rib. I like the salty exterior crust that develops on the outside edges of the roast which is a method all to itself.
Kosher salt in bottom of roasting pan not touching the meat.

The problem with a heavily salted roast is that the pan drippings (the foundation of the au jus) becomes unusable. To salty! You can use some of the salty drippings to add flavoring to your scratch made au jus. 
Room temperature roast well seasoned

To begin making a standing rib roast you need a stove that is accurate and has a good seal around the door. If you don't trust the temperature of your oven get a oven thermometer as a fail safe method of cooking accurately. They range in price from $2.00 - to well over $50.00. You can also get a leave-in meat thermometer, 
Good enough for most of my family
but not an instant read thermometer.
Ideally get a two or three piece digital probe, transmitter and receiver. Place the probe in the center of the roast avoiding the bones or fat pockets, bring the probe wire out of the oven door and connect it to the transmitter, or the receiver depending on your unit. If you're not using the salt in the bottom of the pan you can set the roast on a bed or carrots, onions and celery to help make a flavorful juice (au jus). You can also pick up a prepared Demi Glace package. 

Preheat the oven to 500°F. Place the roast on the center rack and close the oven door. Do Not Open the oven door. Depending on the size of the roast bake for 20-30 minutes before reducing the heat to 300°F and cook until the center of the roast reaches 130°F-135°F. Remove the roast from the oven, cover loosely with foil and let rest 10 minutes before cutting.
135°F internal temp
The internal temperature should come up to 140°F during this resting time. If you have guests or a significant other who wants it medium-well to well done meat, tell them to go to a fast food joint and get a hamburger. Kidding aside each side piece is going to be closer to medium in temp. The center should be medium-rare. Worse case put their piece under the broiler for about a minute to finish. As I get older I find myself ordering medium over medium rare. 
Warning: Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of food-borne illness, especially if you have a medical condition.
Yummy isn't it?
If you didn't place the Kosher salt in the bottom of the pan then you are ready to make the au jus. Heat the roasting pan on the stove top and loosen the brown bits on the bottom with a little beef stock or broth. Once the bottom bits are free and dissolved, add stock or red
The good stuff
wine a little at a time. Depending on the size of your roast you'll want to end up with 1/2 to 1 cup of juice. in the bottom of the pan.
That looks about right!
Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the liquid by one half. Remove the pan from the heat and set to the side.
Stir in about 2 tablespoons of cold butter to smooth out the au jus. Add salt, pepper, a little marjoram, and taste. It's really up to you at this point. You are ready to plate your prime rib.
Serve with mashed potatoes, creamed corn or spinach and more au jus

Many restaurants that offer Prime Rib might also offer Yorkshire pudding as a side. If you get the chance try this too. I have not tried making it myself and would welcome any ideas, or recipes that you might have. Lawry's has a recipe for Prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, creamed corn and spinach on their website as well as their whipped cream horseradish sauce.
I am always willing to learn or try something new. A couple of years ago I stumbled upon a recipe to cook perfect prime rib. At I first I was skeptical, but recently stumbled upon a recipe again. It is called "Method X," as a way to perfectly cook Prime Rib. The recipe was posted on a blog called "Food Wishes, by Chef John" to see this video method go to

Softened butter, cracked black pepper, salt and Herbs de Provence. Really?
I just had to try it! Recently my local grocery store had Choice Standing Rib Roast for $5.99 per pound. I bought a 4 bone roast weighing in at 11.73 lbs. I cut it in half and put it on the scale.
2 ribs and let's call it 5.71875 pounds.
So according to Chef John you multiply the roast weight x five minutes per pound  (5.71875x5=28.59375=29 minutes). To clarify I need to place a room temperature, well-seasoned roast in a preheated 500°F oven for exactly 29 minutes before turning off the oven and letting the roast sit undisturbed for two hours. No way! I thought.
Seasoned butter. It smells good.
First you have to slather on the seasoned butter on the roast. Making sure that it is well covered. The purpose of the seasoned butter is to hold the Kosher salt you're going to place on the roast. This should give you that salty outer layer of the roast that I just love.
Slather the seasoned butter on the roast
Once you have covered your roast in seasoned butter it is time to bring on the salt. He suggested Kosher salt at this point and a lot of it. I used 3 tablespoons of salt sprinkled on all sides of the roast. In retrospect I could have used more.
Sprinkle liberally with Kosher salt

It's time to insert your temperature probe in the center of the roast, being careful to avoid fat pockets or touching the bones with the tip of the probe. Place the roast in a preheated oven.
Meat with temperature probe in it. Note oven thermometer in oven rear.
Place the roast into a preheated 500°F oven, close the door and   cook for the exact time calculated. Turn off the oven and do not touch or open the oven door for 2 more hours.
No need to rest, start carving immediately
What can I say? It worked! That was delicious. Hats off to Chef John. I wonder how this would work for cooking a perfect medium rare beef tenderloin?
OMG! Where is that au jus?
If you've never heard of it or need a recipe for Kiddie Cocktails here it is. As children we always loved them.
8 oz. lemon-lime soda (7-Up or Sprite)
1 oz. grenadine syrup
1 red Maraschino cherry

Combine ingredients and serve over ice in a highball glass. Garnish with a slice of orange.
So if you have a perfect Prime Rib recipe or method of cooking it please leave a comment below. If you have a favorite supper club, or memories of a supper club let me know that too.