Cooking prime rib in a Sierra resort where time seems to stand still
I have a confession to make. I haven’t been home much this summer. I have not been doing much cooking, canning or shopping at the farmers market every week. I took a job out of town, actually out of state.
I’m working at Kennedy Meadows Resort, a pack station over Sonora Pass, 87 miles from Carson City. It’s been a pack station since 1917, and it’s like taking a step back in time (no cell phones, no TV) – lots of serenity.
The power comes from a generator, and when the bartender (in the Last Chance Saloon) closes for the night, he shuts it off. It’s turned on at various times early in the morning by the nicest guy, named No Sweat, because whenever you asked him to do anything he says, “No sweat” and does it.
It is both maddening and magnificent. It can get so busy it’s hard to keep up, but there is something magical about the place that draws people back again and again.
Everyone you meet has a story about how long they have been coming here. I met an elderly lady who has been returning for 80 years. Her parents first brought her when she was a year old.
Our motor home sits under the pine trees facing the north fork of the Stanislaus River, with Deadman Creek running down the road behind us. A lot of people retire from their real jobs and take a job at Kennedy Meadows for their twilight years.
It’s been called an old folks home by a young man when he was 19 and working there as a cowboy. Twenty years later, he’s now the owner, and it seems to suit him just fine.
It’s off the beaten path, that’s for sure, but they serve a lot of food. It’s not unusual to do more than 200 covers for breakfast and lunch and turn around and do 150 dinners.
They have a family-style dinner (soup, salad, entrée, potato, veggie and dessert) six days a week for $11, and on Sunday they serve a prime rib dinner for $16. If you don’t have a reservation for one of the 14 tables, you won’t get in.
One of the best things about working here is that no one is in a hurry, and if they are, my friend Ken Cooper says to tell them it’s 45 miles either way to the closest restaurant.
They open the Friday before Mother’s Day and close Columbus Day. I drive home on my two days off, and I never tire of driving over the pass. It seems to change weekly, the best coming up with the fall colors.
They cook on average six prime ribs a week during peak times and serve about 90 orders. This is their recipe. (I know everyone has one for cooking prime rib, but this almost seems too easy).
Prime Rib a la Kennedy Meadow Resort
Jose, the head cook, simply brushes the prime rib with Kitchen Bouquet and rubs pepper on the meat. He then bakes the ribs at 275 degrees for 4 to 4 1/2 hours. He holds them at 140 degrees. I’m going to try this method on the next prime rib I cook.
This next recipe comes from my Smith & Smith Farms newsletter, and Brenda got it from the Colorado Farmer’s Market Cookbook. You can substitute any corn for the white corn.
White Corn Soup with Poblano Chili Purée
Serves 4 to 6
• 1 large poblano chile, roasted seeded and chopped
• 1 T. plus 2 1/2 cups chicken stock, plus more if needed
• 3 T butter
• 3/4 cups chopped onion
• 5 cups white corn kernels (about 5 medium ears)
• Salt and pepper
• 4-6 T. heavy cream
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I used fresh parsley; you could also use fresh basil)
Purée the chili in a blender with 1 tablespoon broth. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium low heat. Add the onion and cook till tender, about 10 minutes. Add the corn and cook for 2 minutes. Add the 2 1/2 cups broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until corn is tender. Cool slightly and then purée the soup in a blender or food processor.
Return the puréed soup to the saucepan and season with salt and pepper. Reheat the soup, and if it’s too thick, add more broth.
Ladle the soup into warm bowls and top with a dollop of the chili purée and a dollop of cream; swirl decoratively with the tines of a fork. Sprinkle with cilantro.
Note: I used cooked corn and shortened the cooking time, and I added the heavy cream to the soup before reheating it.
• Linda Marrone has been a Carson City resident since 1973, and formerly operated Marrone’s Restaurant .