Prime rib, the succulent upscale treat offered at fine restaurants for a hefty sum, is actually a simple meal that even novice cooks can master. As is often the case with the premium ingredients, the recipe has a mere five steps (or less), with a shopping list so short you don’t have to write it down.
So, even if you haven’t moved beyond boxed macaroni and cheese, you can still make a fantastic prime rib meal and impress the in-laws. Just follow these simple instructions and you can’t go wrong.
How (and Where) to Buy Prime Rib
The key to mouth-watering prime rib is purchasing the best cut of beef, and handling it properly. The word, prime in prime rib
|refers to its quality classification according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA has five classifications, with prime being the very best cut of beef you can buy; the others are choice, sel-ect, cutter, and canner. Why is a prime classification the best? Because prime rib, also commonly referred to|
as standing rib roast or rib roast, is cut from the loin, which is not an area on the cow that gets much of a workout. The underused loin area yields a marbled cut of beef that promises to be both tender and tasty.
The bad news about buying prime rib is it is hard to get, and if you can find it, you will most likely need to order it in advance. Prime rib is distributed in limited quantities, mostly to chic restaurants and gourmet markets.
So what about all of those signs at the supermarket advertising prime rib? They may call it prime rib, but it’s really choice-grade beef, the next step down from prime. Choice beef is still very good, and if you are unable to find prime rib, by all means try the recipe with a choice cut instead. Anything below choice is not appropriate for standing rib roast.
The good news about buying prime rib is it may be available at your local butcher, but advance planning is required because butchers will have to order the beef. Some butchers will also have to age the beef once it arrives at their shop. Ideally, prime rib should be aged at least four weeks, but a few weeks longer yields better results.
If you need to make prime rib next week, try calling the upscale restaurants in your area, and ask them if they would be willing to sell you a roast. Many of them will be happy to, and it will already be aged. Or, try purchasing your prime rib online from a reputable, premium butcher.
Wherever you purchase your prime rib or choice
|standing rib roast, make sure the butcher leaves at least a half-inch layer of fat on the roast for flavor, and to seal in juices. A common mistake some cooks make is cutting the chine (feather) bones, which add wonderful flavor. Some people think it makes for a|
better presentation, but why sacrifice taste for style?
Purchase a minimum of three ribs on the roast, or the meat may cook unevenly. Three ribs will yield six servings, two per rib, but leftovers are yummy on sandwiches!
Besides the beef, the ingredients for prime rib are pretty basic, and may already be in your kitchen:
3-4 garlic cloves
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Could it get any easier than that? For inexperienced cooks with minimalist kitchens, you will also need to purchase a couple of items: an instant read thermometer and a roasting pan. If you’re nervous about getting it right, spring for the digital thermometer so there is no doubt. You can find one online for as little as $25.
Your roasting pan does not need to be fancy, just large enough to accommodate the roast size you are planning to cook. Contrary to some recipes, you do not need a rack for the roasting pan. The ribs act as a rack, which is why it is also called a standing rib roast–it can stand on its own.
The Basic How-To of Cooking Prime Rib
Though the recipe is very basic, you will need to start prepping your prime rib early. Why? Because the meat needs to be at room temperature before you cook it, or it may cook unevenly or take longer than expected. Adding minutes or increasing temperatures in order to cook the cold meat is bad news for a new cook. So just take the roast out of the refrigerator about five hours before you plan to serve it.
Here’s the basic recipe for classic prime rib:
1 standing rib roast of beef, about 6.5 lbs
3-4 garlic cloves, slivered
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1.When the roast is room temperature, preheat the oven to 450Âº.
2.Make small slits all over the roast with a paring knife, using just the tip. Insert garlic slivers. Rub salt and pepper over the roast generously, and place it in a shallow roasting pan for about half an hour.
3.Reduce the oven temperature to 350º and cook the roast for 16 minutes per pound, or until the meat thermometer reaches an internal temperature of 110º to 115º for a rare center (120º – 125º for medium rare).
4.Remove the roast from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving. The meat will continue to cook at this point, especially if you cover it with foil.
The Best Expert Tips for Cooking Prime Rib
When purchasing choice grade beef in the grocery store, avoid Cryovac® packaging. While it keeps the meat safe, the bacteria it keeps out is actually what ages the meat.
Do not cut into the meat to remove any fat, as it removes flavor.
Don’t get too fancy with the spices, as it will overpower the meat. The best way to bring in extra flavors is through accompaniments and sides.
If you have time, heat the oven up slowly, starting at lower temperatures until you reach 350º.
Baste the meat only occasionally, as the oven loses heat every time you open the door. Scoop up pan juices with a small ladle or a turkey baster.
When ready to serve, cut off the chine bones first, and then cut the meat from the outside in using a long, sharp knife.
Completing the Prime Rib Meal
When serving prime rib, the meat is the main
|attraction, so keep the sides simple and complimentary. Fresh vegetables, roasted in olive oil and simple spices, garlic mashed potatoes, or boiled new potatoes with herb butter sauce. Be sure to serve a field green salad with light vinaigrette, such as raspberry. For dessert, it’s chocolate all the way. Try|
truffles with port, or French silk pie. For wine, serve a nice Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, or Syrah.
Two must-have accompaniments are horseradish sauce and aus jus sauce, both of which perfectly compliment the flavor of prime rib. Here are simple recipes for each:
Horseradish Cream Sauce
4 T horseradish
1 C sour cream
1 tsp sugar
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Combine all of the ingredients and chill for several hours before serving.
Au Jus Sauce
2 C high quality beef stock, preferably homemade
Drippings from pan
While the roast is resting, just before serving, drain the fat from the roasting pan and place it on two burners on the stove. Add beef stock and bring to a boil. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to stir up the brown pieces at the bottom of the pan. Boil for about three minutes and then transfer to a serving dish or gravy boat. Note: Au jus is thin like a broth; do not expect it to have the same consistency as gravy.
Now that you know how to cook prime rib, you’ll have the perfect special occasion meal that wows guests every time. Remember, get the best cut of beef you can find, don’t cut the chine bones or too much fat, keep the seasoning simple, and don’t over cook. If you follow this simple how-to, you’ll master this recipe in no time!
Further Reading and Additional Resources
Very cool page, called ‘Cooking For Engineers’, as one might guess it’s very specific and detailed with plenty of ‘tech specs’ in the recipe, so if you’re a left-brained analytical sort you might like this:
Prime Rib page from WhatsCookingAmerica.net that has a very nice detailed chart telling you EXACTLY what rare, medium rare, medium, medium well done, etc. means and how to get that: