“I’m a little intimidated by it.” Angie
“It makes me feel like a man.” Kevin
A paraphrasing of our conversation as we both peered in amazement through the window of Rain Shadow Meats (Melrose Market, Seattle’s Capitol Hill Neighborhood), eyeing a big, huge, Fred Flintstone-looking cut of prime rib roast hanging ominously amid the bustle of Holiday foragers, scrambling at last-minute pace. Rewind a few days and they we were, pondering Christmas dinner. Traditionally, it’s been ham (three days of salt induced bloating) or Turkey (one day of slipping in and out of turkey induced coma), but this year, we swore to something different. Ideas were tossed around, coins were flipped, oracles consulted and, fast forward again, there we stood in front of a huge slab of prime rib wondering how, in the name of all that’s ever been cooked, were we going to tame this thing into a dinner.
Let me pause here and thank Google, the blogging community, the USDA, the Beef Lover’s Association of America (BLAA) and an endless list of resources available to satisfy my nearly unquenchable compulsion to research anything. I am now a certified prime rib roast expert. Disclaimer: there is no actual certification board or process for the fine art of prime rib roasting, but I’m comfortable in assuming that, if there were a governing body, I’d be certified if not decorated as a master. Today’s post is a quick how-to and education on properly preparing and roasting one of beef’s most mouth-watering cuts. In the end, it’s very simple, with success predicated in the earliest steps and preparations. You’ll need very few ingredients, but you will need a basic understanding of the cut of meat, the varying degrees of quality and the instructions to give your butcher.
Prime rib, as the name implies, is a prime cut of beef and comes from the lower end of the rib cage, which is not weight bearing , and therefore a more tender cut. Filet Mignon and Tenderloin come from this region of the animal. A prime rib roast is a very tender, smooth textured cut of beef prepared with the rib section intact. It’s generally measured in size by the number of ribs, with a standard serving of approximately 2-3 persons (adults) per rib. For example, a 3 rib roast should serve 6-9 people, depending on portion size. There are varying quality degrees in the United States as well as variations in the way the animal was raised. USDA prime beef is rated as slightly less quality than USDA Prime, while either could be categorized as grass-fed. If you want the absolute best (most tender), you want USDA Prime (I know zero about the quality scales of other countries…sorry).
Ask your butcher to prepare the ends and remove excess fat before you pick it up. Some fat in your prime rib is necessary to produce a moist, tender roast, but it shouldn’t be too much. You’r butcher will know how much to cut and how much to leave. Preparing the roast means cutting one side of the rib bones flush to the meat or leaving both sides exposed, depending on how you intend to roast it. If you’re going to roast in a pan that does not have a rack to keep the roast off of the bottom, then have your butcher leave the ends protruding so that you can let the ribs keep the meat from touching the bottom of the pan.
Preheat your oven to 500 degrees (f)/ 260 (c) Position a rack so that your roasting pan and roast have at least 8 inches of headroom to the top of the oven. You will roast at 500 (260) for 15 minutes, then drop the heat to 325 degrees (f)/167 (c) for the rest of your roasting time (see below)
Preparing your prime rib roast starts with getting your roast to room temperature. You’re likely to pick up your roast a day in advance, so it should be kept fresh in the refrigerator until you remove it to bring it to room temperature. I suggest two hours (wrapped) on the kitchen counter. A very large roast (5 ribs or more) will need more time.
To season your roast, you’ll need 1 tsp of fresh ground black pepper and 1 tsp of Kosher salt per two ribs. Combine the salt and pepper in a small bowl, then rub on to the entire surface of the roast, using your hands (which I hope you washed). If your butcher seasoned (cut) one end of your roast, then locate the where the ribs are flush to the meat and rub the ends with butter.
Place the roast in the pan (either on the rack or standing on its ribs so it isn’t touching the bottom), insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the roast (make sure it’s not touching a rib) and place in the 500 degree (f)/ 260 (c) oven for 15 minutes to sear the meat. Drop the temperature to 325 degrees (f)/167 (c), and roast per the guidelines below:
Rare: 115-125 degrees (f)/46-49 degrees (c)
Medium Rare: 125-130 degrees (f)/51-54 degrees (c)
15-17 minutes per pound (per 2.2 kg)
Expect to roast for 15-17 minutes per pound (2.2 kg), depending on how rare you prefer your roast. For example, we were serving 6, so we ordered a 2 rib roast, which weighed 6 pounds (2.7 kg). Our cooking time for a rare roast was 1 1/2 hours. Stay on the side of caution and begin checking the roast’s temperature about 30 minutes before your expected cooking time elapses. The size and shape of your roast will effect how long it should stay in the oven so a little variance should be expected.
In the end, we couldn’t have been happier with the results. It was a little scary; the result of a rather costly cut of beef, but we were complete newbies. If you’re patient and follow the steps above, you’ll serve up an absolutely perfect Holiday meal. We served ours with homemade applesauce, carrots and parsnips, fresh garlic mashed potatoes and lots of red wine. Try it in your own kitchen and Enjoy.