The holidays are upon us, and a lot of folks are going to be cooking some pretty fancy dinners. Now, if you don’t want to do turkey again, may we make a modest suggestion? Hop right over to your favorite butcher and have him cut you up a rib roast of beef. Chef Jerry Pellegrino says, this is truly a festive cut of meat for big occasions.
The meat we are talking about runs along the ribs of the cow, and has two ends, the shoulder and the loin. If you can, get the butcher to sell you the loin end, which is more tender and preferable.
This prime cut features up to 7 ribs with a huge hunk of meat attached. If Most people will get 3 or 4 rib roasts for a big dinner. That’s about 2 pounds per rib, and since most people will eat a little less than a pound per person, you can figure that a 3 rib roast will feed up to about 8 people. If you just cut one rib, then it is the classic prime rib steak.
Rib roasts are very expensive, so keep that in mind. You’re going to want to be careful with this meat. Go on-line and watch a few YouTube tutorials on how to manage roasting a rib roast, and build up your expertise.
Here are a few tips.
1. Ask your butcher to trim the roast of most, but not all of the fat. The meat
side of the roast is covered with a thick layer of fat which is more than you'll need to give it flavor. So lop off about three quarters of it.
2. At one point or another you're going to be carving up the roast. You can keep it intact and wrestle with it at the table, or you can get a head start in the kitchen. I recommend cutting away the ribs from the uncooked roast. With a very sharp, long knife, run the blade as close to the bones as you can and free up the meat. Season the entire roast as you will, then tie the ribs back into place with butcher's twine.
3. You really should season this roast thoroughly. A good rub mix would be: kosher salt, black pepper, minced garlic, dried thyme, rosemary, and oregano.
You can also make a paste out of this by blending in a few tablespoons of Dijon mustard. However you proceed, cover the entire roast, ribs and all, with your seasonings.
4. You can allow the roast to marinate in its seasonings overnight, but bring it out early in the morning to get the entire roast up to room temperature. If the center is cold, you'll have big problems getting it properly cooked.
5. You have two roasting options. One is to start with long slow roasting, say 4 hours or so at 300°, letting it rest for an hour, then blasting it in a 425° oven for about 15 minutes. This final blast will give the exterior of the roast the proper finish, all nicely browned and caramelized. The other option is to blast first, then go long and slow. Whichever you decided on, your target should be an internal temperature of between 125° and 130°. This will give you a nice pink doneness to the meat, which is the proper way to cook a rib roast.
6. To serve, remove the ribs (see #2 above) and carve from the ends. Ask your guests how thick a slice they want, and cut away.
7. You will definitely want some kind of sauce for this. A simple brown sauce based on mirepoix (cut-up carrots, celery and onions) simmered in beef broth, strained and reduced with a little tomato paste and red wine is perfect. Or you can use pan juices and deglazed "brown bits" to make an "au jus". You might also want to mix up a batch of Yorkshire Puddings, which would be a classic accompaniment.