WHO ELSE is planning to serve “prime” rib for Christmas or New Year’s dinner? I tried out a new (to me) cooking technique on a five-pound rib-roast the other day, and can tell you the results were melt-in-your-mouth spectacular!
If your supermarket offers an honest-to-goodness “prime” rib roast — most don’t — go ahead and buy it (if you can afford it). Otherwise, purchase a “Choice” cut from the small end of the rib. According to my butcher, the small end is of higher quality than the large end.
My butcher routinely removes the bones from rib roasts. Then he reattaches them with string. This way, the bones can contribute flavor during cooking. But they can be easily removed at serving time (just cut the strings) for easy carving. Clever!
Make no mistake — the easiest way to ruin a rib roast is to overcook it. Consequently it pays to have an instant-read thermometer, and preferably one that can stay in the meat as it roasts. I purchased such a gadget for $25, and I really like it. For I can see exactly how things are progressing without opening the oven door.
As for cooking, I love the “low-and-slow” method described by Kenji over at Serious Eats. The beef is cooked in a 200°F. oven until it reaches an temperature of 120°F. Then, after a 20 minute rest, the meat is briefly caramelized in a very hot oven.
First, rub the subject all over with kosher salt and grinds of black pepper. You could use additional flavorings — rosemary and garlic come to mind — but these “extras” are not necessary. As many professional chefs will tell you, an expensive cut of beef should “speak for itself.”
I made cross-hatch cuts in the top fat, thinking this would help the beef absorb the seasonings. But when cooked at a low temperature, I don’t think the cuts are necessary. I won’t be making them for my large Christmas roast.
Next, place the beef in a casserole dish or a shallow roasting pan. A rack is not necessary, because there won’t be any substantial pan-drippings. The fat and juice will stay where they belong — in the beef!
No shallow roasting pan or casserole dish for you? Then do what I did, and use a deep roasting pan with a rack. To raise up the rack (and thus to permit air-flow around the meat), set the rack on crumpled sheets of aluminum foil.
Yes, I realize that my thermometer isn’t properly centered in the above photograph. I repositioned the probe a moment later, and then — because I’m a blonde — I forgot to take a second picture.
As a rule of thumb, plan 30 minutes per pound for the beef to reach the desired temperature.
Otherwise, brown the fat: Preheat the oven to 500°F. Remove the foil covering, and return the roast to the oven for 5-10 minutes. The fat and the outside flesh can brown rapidly, so keep an eye on things.
Whether you do the final high-temp “searing” or not, your rib roast will be cooked to perfection. By “perfection,” I mean the roast will be pink throughout (mine was even pink-er in the middle — just what the “rare” crowd wants), and so incredibly-tender you can eat it with a spoon.
My partner and I enjoyed this roast with boiled baby potatoes and steamed Brussels sprouts the other night.
Need a sauce to accompany the meat? You can’t go wrong with horseradish. My recipe for this sauce is extremely complicated:
And pour it into a small, attractive bowl.
I make no apologies for serving Woeber’s horseradish sauce. It’s better than any home-made version I’ve tried.
Let me know if the above roasting advice was helpful to you. Meanwhile…Merry Christmas (and Happy New Year)!
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