Friday, January 4, 2013

Prime Rib

Last year I made a prime rib for Christmas and it was so good, we decided to do it again this year. The key to a successful prime rib roast is how you cook it because you want it to be tender and juicy so this post is mostly about sharing my technique (which isn't something I invented myself - just something I learned from watching the Food Network). You'll want to invest in a meat thermometer, if you don't have one already. It's a pretty important tool to have in the kitchen in general, because, like I mentioned in my Safe Cooking Temperatures post, getting sick because something is under-cooked is a pretty horrible way to spend your time.

Ingredients [serves 4 to 6]:
4 to 5 lb. prime rib roast
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary (fresh)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil

So first things first, you want to pick out a roast that has pretty marbling and a decent layer of fat on top. I know, I know, fat is taboo or whatever but it's where the flavor and moisture is! And obviously, no one is saying you have to eat it! It's perfectly easy enough to trim off as you eat. My local market was having a sale on roasts, lucky me, so I picked up this lovely one, with the bones removed and then tied back together, for under $20. On the day you want to make your roast, remove it from the refrigerator and let it sit out for at least one hour (more for HUGE roasts) so that it can come to room temperature. This will ensure that it cooks more evenly.
The next step is to mix up the herb mixture to rub all over the meat. I chose to use salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary but you could also use thyme, cayenne pepper for some spice, cumin for some smokiness - use what you think will taste good. Also, this would be a good time to preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Then, heat up a cast iron skillet with some olive oil. I like using cast iron because it really holds onto the heat and that's important when trying to sear a huge piece of meat like this. Start with it on one side and let it sizzle for 3 or 4 minutes and then flip to the next side and repeat until the meat is seared all over. You can see in my photos that the roast is browned all over. I think if I had tried to use a puny pan, like the stainless steel one that I 100% rely on for making steaks, the roast would have been nice and brown on the first side and then grey and flat on the others. BUT let's say you don't have a cast iron skillet, what should you do? You can use a stainless steel pan but keep a plate handy and after each side gets browned, remove the roast to the plate and let the pan heat up a bit more before you try and brown the next side,
Once the roast is browned all over, place it in your roasting pan, fat side up. This way, gravity will help pull any drippy fat down into the meat to flavor it and keep it moist. Then take the herb/salt mixture and rub it all over the meat. Place the roast in the oven (which has been preheated to 500 degrees) and then reduce the temperature to 400 degrees. Let it roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour for medium rare (for a roast this size). This is why the meat thermometer is so important! I don't think anyone can really give you an exact formula for the time it will take to get your roast to be perfect. Just use your thermometer and be aware of the carryover cooking that will happen even after the roast is removed from the oven. My rule of thumb is to remove the roast when it's 5 to 10 degrees cooler than what I want it to be.
Rare: should be 130, remove when the internal temperature is around 120
Medium rare: should be 135, remove when the internal temperature is around 125
Medium: should be 145, remove when the internal temperature is around 135
Medium well: should be 155, remove when the internal temperature is around 145
Well done: DON'T WASTE A ROAST BY COOKING IT WELL DONE. Go eat some chicken instead. I'm sort of kidding, but also, I'm not. No, but if you really do like your beef to be well done, it should be 160+
When you remove it from the oven, it should look beautiful and your mouth should start watering.
And you should let the meat rest for 20 to 30 minutes to allow it to calm down and so the juices in the meat will redistribute. However, we were STARVING so we carved after just 10 minutes and that's why it bled out all over the place. I still think it looks delicious though.
This is my ideal cut of beef: it should be a pinky red in the center.
And here's another shot of my full plate. YUM.
I've made a recipe page, if you need it:

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