By Charlie Burke
A favorite for festive meals during the holiday season, rib
roast can be prepared successfully if a few simple steps are carefully followed.
"Prime rib" is usually a misnomer because most available rib roasts are USDA
Choice, which is not a problem because the marbling in choice meats is adequate
to result in juicy roasts. Ask the butcher to trim the fat and meat from the
ribs, and request the loin end of the roast. Plan one rib for every two guests,
adding an extra if you want to ensure that you won't run short. Leftovers make
We use a high heat method which reliably gives us a well browned
yet juicy roast with a pink center. To do this, however, you need a well
insulated oven and a good exhaust fan which vents outside because a lot of smoke
is produced initially. For this reason we will give a lower heat option, also.
In both methods, it is important to have the roast out for at least 4 hours so
that it is started at room temperature. Most ovens' temperatures vary from what
is on the dial, so an oven thermometer is helpful in obtaining the proper
temperature.Also, an instant read meat thermometer is inexpensive insurance
against over cooking and can be used in checking everything from burgers to
High heat method
Bring meat to room temperature, inspect and trim excess fat,
leaving a thin layer. Thoroughly salt and pepper the surfaces, then pat a light
layer of flour over the surfaces. This facilitates browning,
Bring oven to 500 degrees. This can take some time, so start the
oven 45 minutes before putting in the roast.
Place the seasoned roast into a shallow roasting pan using the
bones for a rack, place into the oven and roast at 500 degrees for exactly 5
minutes per pound. Shut the oven off and leave the roast undisturbed for two
hours. Do not open the oven door at any time until the two hours are up. Remove
from the oven and let set for at least 20 minutes before carving. While the meat
is resting, pour all fat out of the roasting pan, place the pan over medium heat
and add a cup of red wine or beef stock, scraping the bottom to deglaze the pan.
Boil until reduced by a third, add a tablespoon of butter and place into a bowl
or gravy boat. This reduction is not gravy but is used to moisten the sliced
meat. To carve, cut vertically along the inside of the ribs (angle knife
slightly against the bone) and continue slicing against the chine bone below
until the loin is removed from the bone. Place the loin lengthwise on the
cutting board and slice into ½ inch pieces. Serve on warmed plates and pass the
Moderate heat method
Prepare the roast as above and preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Place roast into the oven and at 20 minutes turn oven temperature to 325 degrees
(an oven thermometer is important here, because if the temperature is off timing
is difficult). If your roast is small (2 -3 ribs), start checking the
temperature at one hour. A 5 rib roast will take 2 ¼ to 2 ¾ hours. Because of
variations in the meat and in ovens, a thermometer is essential; once the roast
reaches 110 degrees, the temperature rises rapidly. Remove at the following
temperatures: rare - 120 F, medium rare - 125 -130 F, medium 140 F. The
temperature will continue to rise from retained heat in the bones. Let the meat
rest and proceed as above.
We serve our roast beef with a fine Oregon Pinot Noir, but serve
your own favorite dry red. The left over ribs can be coated with a Dijon
mustard/olive oil mixture, reheated in a hot oven and served with a salad for a
great next day lunch.
Using either of these methods you can be confident of enjoying
the results with your guests, and preparation really is not difficult. The roast
can be held for ½ - ¾ hour if it finishes before you are ready to serve.
An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice president of
the New Hampshire Farmer's Market Association (www.nhfma.org).
His column & recipes appear weekly in The Heart of New England's newsletter...
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