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Ramblings about prime rib roasts

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    Ramblings about prime rib roasts

    jlazar asked me to write some words about prime rib roasts. There are a lot of tutorials around the ‘net, and Meathead has written about them to good effect, so I’ll try to simplify the instructions, and provide some insight. For most people, the biggest issue is fear; fear of spending a lot of money on a meal that is usually for a special occasion, and that it will turn out bad. Don’t worry. Even if it turns out bad, your guests will smile and proclaim it wonderful. And they’ll still come back next year. And next year your roast will be better, because you learned from last year’s mistakes.

    I did ruin quite a few rib roasts in my day before I figured them out. Cookbooks were no help, they said to do them at 325-350*. I did them at 325*. I did them at 350*. I did them at 400*. I did them in a Ronco rotisserie oven. I bought cheap roasts, I bought expensive roasts. In each case my guests (because you only make rib roasts when you’re having company) smiled and proclaimed them wonderful. But I knew. You can tell. I did get cooked meat. Beautiful, consistent brownish gray cooked meat, from end to end.

    The dawn of the internet and search engines finally led me to the right path. Today you google "prime rib tutorials" and you’ll get 3,000,000 hits; you got Serious Eats, ATK, Food Network, Allrecipes, and hundreds more competing for attention, along with thousands of YouTube videos. In 1997 you used Alta Vista, or Dogpile, and you got a couple hundred, with a dozen or so originals and lots of copies, and lots of recipes I’d already tried (350 for 4 hours). The most common recipe was to do the roast at 500* for an hour, and then turn the oven off and check back 3 hours later. But I couldn’t help wondering, how did that recipe know how big my roast was?

    Then I came across a web page by Tanith Tyrr, a humanist and hedonist who wrote a lot about culture. This was before there were blogs; now it would be a blog post. And on her web page she had a tutorial called "The Perfect Prime Rib".

    The rules were pretty much what we know now. Use a thermometer. Go low and slow. Salt, pepper, garlic. The only difference was that Tyrr felt that rib roasts were done at 110*. With carryover that got you to at most 120*, which, let’s admit, is pretty rare! (More on this later). So, I still had some learning to do, and, rib roasts being expensive even when they’re cheap, It took another year or so, a couple more roasts, before I figured it out. So, here it is. Simple.

    First, and I can’t stress enough: find a nice roast. It doesn’t have to be Wagyu. It doesn’t even have to be prime, or Angus. Good choice can be great. Look for two things: the size of the cap, which is the outer strip of meat over the big fat bubble, and the amount of marbling in the eye. Pick the biggest cap over the more marbled, but ideally you can get both. It’s not unusual to get choice roasts that look almost mislabeled. (I said the meat doesn’t have to be Angus beef, but Certified Angus, which is usually choice, can be close to prime at half the price.) Bone in, bone out, bones cut off and tied back on... whatever. Pick one. There’s plusses and minuses to each. They all come out great.

    Decide what you’re going to put on the outside. Salt, pepper, and garlic is a great choice. Meathead ’s Mrs O’Leary’s Cow Crust is my new favorite. For a while I was painting the outside with Better-Than-Bullion, then SPG. I did one recently where I cut slits in it and stuffed in slivers of fresh garlic and rosemary. There are lots of choices.

    The night before you are making the roast, take it out of its packaging. Trim off all the outer fat. ALL of it, down to the meat. Remove the silver skin. It should all peel off pretty easily. Then dry brine it with coarse salt. Pat it on, all over. "How much salt, Mosca?" You might ask. I dunno. Use what looks right. You don’t want a crust of salt, but you want to know it’s been salted. (At this point I will say, if you forgot to do this the night before, relax. Do it right before putting the roast in the oven, or over the fire. It will still be great.) Then put the roast in the refrigerator uncovered, overnight.

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    For roasts that are at least as long as they are thick, which are usually at least 2 ribs: plan on the meat being over fire for about 3-4 hours, assuming you are shooting for 130-135*. Heat your oven to 225-250*, or set up your outdoor grill for two zone and the same temp range. Pat your roast up with the rub, and put it in place on a rack with a drip pan underneath. Stick a thermometer in the side, the tip to the deepest part of the roast, and walk away. (This means that if you plan on eating at 6, don’t start the charcoal at 2. If you do, you might be eating at 7.) For roasts that are "over square", figure 2-3 hours. But most roasts are at least 2 ribs. Anything smaller is a really thick steak!

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    At this point, you need to trust the process. You have a thermometer in there! Your roast will read 39-40* for like an hour, and you’ll wonder what’s happening. Have faith. Once the temp starts moving, it accelerates. It will take 2 hours to move 25*, and 2 hours to move the other 65*. If your timing is off, use the oven/cooker temp to match it up. If you need it faster, bump to 275*. If you need to slow it down, drop to 175*. On Sunday, I actually shut my cooker down completely because I needed another half hour. You can always turn it back on.

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    At this low an oven temp, you won’t get a lot of carryover. Depending on the roast, you may get none at all, or just a couple degrees. Or you might get 5*. But because of the time in the heat, and the rub, you often get a nice crust. If you didn’t get a good crust, though, it’s cool. You can put it under the broiler for a couple minutes... but it’s faster and easier to heat up a frying pan and quickly sear all sides. Takes about a minute or two.

    Some people say serve it right away, some people say let it rest. Whatever. If people are hungry, serve it. If people are laughing and eating hors d’oeuvres, let it rest. If it’s good right now, it will be good 15 minutes from now, too.

    Some people don’t like medium rare! Yeah, I know. But they’re guests. Remember that frying pan? 10 seconds a side turns medium rare to medium well, with no loss of juiciness. Enjoy!


    Pick a nice roast
    Trim the fat
    Rub it with something good
    Put it in the oven at 225-250 until a thermo reads 130

    Everything else is nuance, and learning how to think on your feet when the cook doesn’t go linear. Plus a lot of flowery words, because writing can be fun.

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    Last edited by Mosca; September 8, 2020, 12:29 PM.

    Yup. That pretty much says it all. Nice write up. Makes it seem simple. That’s because it IS! Thx.


      Here is my article and videos https://amazingribs.com/tested-recip...er-beef-roasts


      • ItsAllGoneToTheDogs
        ItsAllGoneToTheDogs commented
        Editing a comment
        JakeT have you tried fresh rubbed Sage, or Tarragon, or even a completely different taste coarse ground Carroway Seeds?

      • Mosca
        Mosca commented
        Editing a comment
        JakeT Then just do salt, pepper, garlic. I’ve used both fresh garlic and garlic powder. The powder works better, you’re looking for just the hint of garlic. Trust me, it will be great.

      • JakeT
        JakeT commented
        Editing a comment
        ItsAllGoneToTheDogs I have tried a bit of tarragon before, never sage because it can become pretty overpowering pretty quickly...then again so can rosemary. I need to sacrifice and do a few test recipes with the rub...sacrifice...poor me haha

      Mosca great write up. Pretty closely mirrors my learning over the years. Anybody following this will be very successful.


        Well done sir! Great write up. I appreciate the tutorial. That’s a lot of work. Cheers


          Great write up! Thanks. That cow crust is awesome stuff.


            Great write-up and really straightforward.

            Pretty much the method I've been using the last few years based on Serious eats article. Dry brine the night before, pepper/garlic or Cow Crust on cook day. 200* oven on a rack over a pan in the lower portion of the oven. Digital probe until meat reaches 135* for medium rare - about 5-6 hours for a 3 rib roast, usually bone cut and re-tied on. when it hits IT, take out to sort of rest under foil and raise oven to 500*. After 20 minutes, put roast back in for 8-10 minutes to crisp the outside. Easey-peasey.
            Last edited by GolfGeezer; September 8, 2020, 03:14 PM.


              A great KISS job.


                A picture speaks a thousand words. Me like pictures with the written ramblings


                  Great write up, thank you.
                  Gotta few more rounds to go thru, then have a go at one of these.
                  Agree about the rosemary, only problem is I'm the only one that likes it the rest of the whinners don't. Oh well....


                    I love this kind of write up. There is no set way to reach the desired end result, just guidelines and technique. Bravo man!!


                      Excellent write up. Thank you so much. Can’t wait to try the next one. The picture of your finished roast is unbelievable.


                        Very nice writeup. It inspires confidence for roasting that expensive cut of meat. Thanks, Mosca .



                          Great job Mosca ! Wonderful and simple explanation of the process. Thank you!


                            That's the right amount of detail to inspire fearlessness, and the right amount of information to assure lots of happy eating. That's a gift - you've made a lot of folks super happy about their meal but you haven't cooked a thing for them!

                            I'm on a mesquite briquettes, mesquite chunks and mesquite rub tear right now. In fact, I've set my performer - Louie - aside to just use mesquite. Louie is starting to smell just awesome...



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