Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving, the Wong Way

Thanksgiving with the Wongs.  It's one reason that I married Wes.  All of my past Thanksgivings up to my first one with the Wong family have been fun, but not too unlike other big family dinners with relatives and cousins squeezed around long tables covered with a mixture of Chinese restaurant party trays and whatever the women felt like cooking that day.  Of course, I've had a fair share of dinners comprised entirely of dim-sum take-out with the Wongs as well.  However, Thanksgiving is a culinary affair that is never to be taken lightly by the men of this family.

Wesley's dad prides himself over his elite carving skills and thirty plus years of experience with making the prime rib for his family.  A true master of the art, he knows when the meat is ready at the touch of his hand, no temperature probes and thermometers necessary to achieve that perfect medium rare.  Now, the torch has been passed to his second son, Wesley, who did a beautiful job this year.  The recipe is not hard to follow, but attempting it is not for the faint of heart.  The rib roast, along with Stephen's (Wes's brother's) oil-less deep-fried whole turkey, are two essentials that make the Wong Thanksgiving dinner the fantastic tradition that it is.  Add side dishes like creamy mashed potatoes, lavender honey buttered biscuits, parti-colored caramelized carrots, and sous vide yams, and we've got a table singing with care, abundance, excitement, and sincerity.  Thanksgiving, in a nutshell.

I wanted to document the recipes we used and share the dishes that Wes and I contributed this year: Wes's rib roast and au jus, my kabocha pie, roasted potatoes, saffron rice, and persimmon salad.

Method X Rib Roast

Wes decided to use Method X to cook our rib roast.  It's a mathematically based formula where the bone-in rib is cooked for five minutes per pound at 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and then the oven is turned off and untouched for two additional hours.  During that time, the temperature of the meat will slowly creep up to 125 degrees Fahrenheit, the ideal temperature for medium rare.

Wes was so excited to buy a full rib roast.  We used half for this dinner, the other half probably will be saved for Christmas.

1. Age the meat in the fridge for about a week.  More sitting around = more moisture removed = intensified flavor.  The meat lost almost a pound of water weight!

2.   The  most important step is to allow the meat to come to room temperature before even cooking it.  Wes woke up at 6 in the morning to take the meat out of fridge - after a solid 7 hours on our countertop, it was finally ready to be cooked.

3.  Monitor the temperature to let it get as close to room temperature as possible.

4.  Make the rub with a softened stick of butter.  Wes used black pepper and Herbs de Provence.

5.  Rub all over the meat and then sprinkle generously with Kosher salt.

6.  Place it into the oven.  Use the mathematical equation to determine how long to roast it.  Since our rib roast ended up weighing 9.25 lbs., it was cooked (at 500 degrees Fahrenheit) for 57 minutes, plus another minute to counteract temperature loss of the oven.

7.  We constantly watched the temperature to see when the meat reached 125 degrees Fahrenheit, which ended up being just under two hours.

8.  All done!

Wes would like all to note the even medium rare throughout the entire roast, from edge to edge, and the perfect crust.


Normally Wes likes to use the potatoes to absorb the drippings of the rib roast, however this year he wanted to make an au jus, so instead he cooked them separately and threw them into the roasting pan with the rib roast.

1.  Halve the potatoes.

2.  Toss with olive oil and Emeril's seasoning.

3.  Vacuum seal them to flash marinate.

4.  Sous vide for 30 minutes at 90 degrees Celsius - not necessary, but does make the potatoes less chalky than if taken straight to the oven.

5.  Finish off in the oven by roasting at 450 degrees Fahrenheit, just to crisp them up.

Au Jus

Nothing like a good au jus to spoon over the prime rib!  We liked the herbal flavor that came through in the au jus from the rib roast pan drippings.  That butter and Herbs de Provence was a good idea.

1.  Remove the rib roast and pour out most of the fatty liquid from roasting pan.
2.  Mix with beef stock on the stove, scraping all the good bits at the bottom.
3.  Once boiling, add some corn starch just to give it a slightly thicker consistency.  Then, let it all reduce.
4.  Depending on what type of beef broth, you may want to add some salt.
5.  Strain the liquid.

Saffron Rice Pilaf

This was a hit last year, so we made it again.  We used a recipe that Wes found on

1.  Soften saffron in hot water (2 tablespoons) in a small bowl.

2.  Heat olive oil in a 5-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat until it simmers.  Fry slivered almonds, stirring frequently, until golden, about 3 minutes.  Remove immediately.

3.  Chop a large onion and stir-fry it in the oil remaining in the pot until golden brown, 15-20 minutes.  Transfer half of the onion into a bowl.

4.  Add basmati rice to onion in pot and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add water, saffron mixture, salt, and pepper, and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until water is absorbed and rice is tender, 20 minutes.  Let rice stand, covered, off heat for 5 minutes.

5.  Stir almonds and dried cranberries into bowl with the reserved onion, then fluff the rice and serve with the mixture spooned on top.

Sweet and Spicy Kabocha Pie

After a particularly positive experience with cooking kabocha squash a few weeks ago, I thought that it would be cool to make a pumpkin pie out of kabocha, its sweeter and smaller cousin.  I was going to simply adapt a pumpkin or sweet potato pie recipe but ended up finding a recipe specifically for kabocha pie on, so I used that, but I bought a pre-made crust from Trader Joe's.  Despite my nooby-baker fears, the pie turned out very well!  Not too sweet and a noticeable but nice hint of ginger.

Halve the squash and scoop out any seeds and pulp.  Rub the flesh with a little olive oil and sprinkle of salt.  The recipe says to roast it in the oven cut-side down covered in foil with a little water, but I found that steaming it would make just as much sense, if not easier to blend into a puree.

When finished, scoop the flesh into a blender and puree until smooth.

Place the pie dough into pie pan and crimp the edges.  I just pressed it with a fork because I don't have the fine motor skills or the OCD to crimp.  Maybe next year I'll make my own crust and crimp the edges.

Dock the dough all over with the tines of a fork, cover the dough with a sheet of parchment, and fill with rice (or pie weights if you have them).  Bake this for 15 minutes.  Remove the rice/parchment paper and bake about 5 more minutes.  Set it out to cool.

Whisk together 2 tablespoons of flour with 1/4 cup heavy cream.  Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook, stirring, until the mixture begins to bubble and thicken.  Slowly whisk the remaining 3/4 cup of cream and cook, stirring, until mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Whisk 1.5 cups of squash puree with 3 egg yolks until smooth.  Add the thickened cream, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, grated fresh ginger, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, ground black pepper, and ancho chili powder, and whisk until smooth.

Pour into cooled pie crust and bake until the filling is just set, about 30 minutes.

I decided to top it with meringue, as I had seen it done at the Pie Hole like that when they have their seasonal yam tart.  Didn't have any cream of tartar on hand, so I just beat some egg whites with white sugar and had Wes torch it off for me.  It worked, but definitely will need the cream of tartar next time as the meringue deflated by the time we were ready for dessert!

Our first Thanksgiving as a married couple could not be any better!  I am extremely thankful to the Wongs for providing so much for me and my parents.  Here are more pictures of all the food that Stephen and Debbie prepared.  We had no shortage of leftovers.

Oil-less deep fried turkey.  Brined for 72 hours first.

Hormel Cure 81 ham.

Shrimp with chile gremolata.

Fizzy cranberry jelly cubes - pretty much cranberry jelly infused with carbon dioxide. The product of Stephen's molecular gastronomy experiment.

Caramelized carrots.

Mashed potatoes and creamed corn.

Biscuits, compliments of Pillsbury.  Lavender honey butter (not pictured, but oh so delicious), compliments of Stephen.

Salad with homegrown persimmons from Wes's mom.

Roasted red pepper soup with crab.

Madison's Specialty.  Already contributing to the family dinner at the age of two!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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