Prime rib made simple
Ever wonder why prime rib shows up on the menus of so many places and often seems so incredibly consistent — even in establishments that don’t seem to do a lot of higher end offerings? Well, it’s because you can buy it from restaurant food purveyors already cooked. Yes, just like batter-fried anything or those long tubes of perfect, center slices of hard-boiled egg, prime rib is one of those things that is often brought to you through a little more elaborate process than you may think — and it’s all done with one goal in mind: to enable business people to operate successful restaurants without having the need for anyone on the staff who actually knows how to cook. So no matter how high the turnover might be, the prime rib is always the same.
Hey, I’m not really knocking it. Why trouble ourselves with inconsistency when the alternative is you risking your pride and your grocery budget on a hunk of meat that might typically run you anywhere from $35 to $60, while taking a few hours to prepare? And if you own a modest to mid-range restaurant, can you really afford to be at the mercy of some temperamental artisan chef, who might head off to greener salad bars at the drop of toque?
Well, there are several reasons to do it yourself. One is the entertainment and satisfaction of cooking. There is substantial cost savings when you’re serving four to six people, (coupled with the fact that I only do it when standing rib roasts are on sale anyway.) Finally, you can actually do a better job! Your prime rib can provide the standard by which you will judge all others and you may well find it to be superior because it is more fresh, wholesome and flavorful than the stuff you’ve been going out for.
So anyway, here you go. First, get yourself a standing rib roast. (I found one on sale Friday for $5.99 a pound, which is a steal.) Take it out of the refrigerator about two hours before you intend to cook it, so you can bring the meat up to room temperature. (I’m assuming you didn’t freeze it.)
Alright, what you need to do this besides the rib roast is a large onion, four large carrots, a few stalks of celery, a MEAT THERMOMETER, some spices and a nice, cast iron pan or some other heavy, uncovered pot that you can put in the oven.
As soon as I take the meat out of the fridge, I spray it down with cold pressed garlic juice. Then slather on some Worchestershire sauce and then rub in some salt, pepper and any other seasonings you care to add. (I throw in a little onion powder and celery salt, but it’s no biggee.) Don’t be shy with the spicing since plenty of it will flow off as it cooks.
Okay, now we’re going to peel the carrots and the onion and then chop them up really fine with the celery. (A food processor works great for this or you can just chop them up with a chef knife, but we’re talking FINE.) Now, brush a thin layer of olive oil on the bottom of your cooking pot and lay down a half inch of your finely chopped veggies.
Preheat your oven to 450.
Stand the rib roast in the pan rib side down and cover it — and I mean COVER it — with your remaining chopped vegetable mix. It won’t stick to the sides of the roast too well, but give it a whack anyway. We’re going to encrust this rib roast with the veggies. (The picture of this stage is a little blurry, but you get the point.)
Now, with your oven at 450, put the rib roast in, uncovered, for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, back the oven temperature off to 325 and give it about 90 minutes to a couple of hours — but after 75 minutes or so, start periodically checking it with your meat thermometer to make sure you’re not overcooking it (which depends on size, thickness, etc.) For rare, you’re looking at 120 degrees. I usually take it to around 130-135 for a more medium rare.
Remember that the meat will continue to cook itself for awhile after you take it out of the oven. I like to let it rest for about 20 minutes and then fillet it away from the rib bones with a sharp knife. If all goes well, you should end up with something that looks like the picture on the top (if not better.) The veggie mix gets tossed, along with the fat renderings that it has absorbed for you, while adding flavor and protecting the exterior during the cooking.)
Okay, you’re ready for the next sale on standing rib roast. A little red wine, some crusty bread and whatever else you would like to complete your meal and you’re all set. Bon appetit!