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HOLIDAY HOW-TOS

Culinary tips from local chefs

PHOTOS By noushin nourizadeh

‘Tis the season to turn on the oven and impress friends and family. Most of us have family recipes that we like to make, but it’s fun to try a new technique or a dish we never endeavored before. Here’s what our foodie patrol has learned from the experts.

Pummarò’s calzone for the busy holidays
Pummarò’s calzone for the busy holidays

CALZONE
Sometimes referred to as an inside-out pizza, the calzone was invented with busy people (including holiday shoppers) in mind. Calzone is a pizza you can hold in your hand while multi-tasking, made from pizza dough and stuffed with meats, sauces, cheeses, and vegetables. We watched the pizza chef at Pummarò Restaurant in Point Loma create one of these delicious Italian-style turnovers where the entire process took about 14 minutes. Here’s what to do: Roll the dough out to about one-eighth of an inch thick. Top the dough with ricotta, mozzarella, pizza sauce, fresh vegetables, Italian meats, and parmesan cheese. Fold the top over and crimp the edges so the dough sticks together. Brush the top with olive oil and make a slit or two. Bake in a pizza oven or on a baking sheet at 425 degrees until golden brown. Or order a calzone to go at Pummarò!

STANDING PRIME RIB ROAST
A holiday favorite, prime rib is a cut of beef that has a generous amount of marbling that provides juiciness and flavor. Comprised of two to seven ribs, the standing rib roast is slow roasted with dry heat while “standing” on the rib bones on a rack, so the meat does not touch the roasting pan. Prime rib is a very tender and juicy cut of meat, that should be seared and cooked slowly so as not to cook off all the fat. There are two schools of thought when it comes to searing. Some chefs contend that searing first retains the juices, while others prefer to sear at the end of cooking time for a crispy crust. Either way, the meat is at its best when it is slow-cooked rare or medium rare, a process that can take several hours and preserves some of the fat, which keeps the meat juicy and flavorful. Bobby Kokinda, who owns OB Meat Company in Ocean Beach, offers these tips for a medium-rare roast. Set the meat out on the counter for about an hour prior to cooking so it reaches room temperature. Roast in the oven on a rack, bone side down at 350 degrees, allowing 23 minutes per pound for a 3-to 4-pound roast or 19 minutes for a 4-to 6-pound roast. Remove the meat from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Return the meat to the oven for between 5 to 10 minutes to crisp the outside and give it a nice crust. Check roast with a calibrated thermometer and let the roast stand for twenty minutes before slicing.

AU JUS
Fancier sounding than it is, the French term au jus simply means the natural juices from meat. But there are techniques to achieving maximum flavor to make it the perfect accompaniment for the holiday prime rib roast. Jeff Lefstein, a seasoned chef and owner of La Jolla Gourmet Meats, is happy to share some tips. Start with an excellent seasoning like Lindberg & Snyder Porterhouse Roast & Seasoning (available in his shop). Generously rub the seasoning into the meat on all sides. Spread a variety of ripened vegetables with olive oil in the bottom of the roasting pan. Jeff recommends searing the prime rib first, at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. When the prime rib is seared, take the rib out and reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Add a 4-to 6-cup blend of water and red wine, plus 2 beef bouillon cubes to the bottom of the pan. As the prime rib roasts on the rack, its drippings will add even more flavor to the au jus. After roasting, strain the vegetables for a special holiday touch.