Prime rib is a cut of meat that’s perfect for special occasion feasts in more ways than one. Served in supple, thick slices that are marbled with fat, it’s a decadent and impressive main course. Prime rib is also really easy to prepare, which means you can “wow” your guests and still enjoy the party. They don’t need to know you only spent about five minutes prepping the meat before shoving the roast in the oven and letting it do its thing.
Letting a standing prime rib roast do its thing means you season it with simple spices and then mostly get out of the way. The fat covering the top of the roast will melt slowly as the meat cooks, keeping it moist and the ripples of fat within will give the meat tons of flavor. Your job is to adjust the oven temp so the outside gets crispy and the inside stays pink and to stab the meat every once in awhile with a meat thermometer so you know when to pull it out.
If you want your prime rib to be pink throughout, which many people do, you need to pull it out of the oven at 125 F. The meat will be hot, but have a juicy-bloody quality that means each bite will be tender, fatty and moist. If you can’t handle meat that rare, you can pull your prime rib roast out of the oven at 135 and you’ll have a rare, juicy center surrounded by meat that’s not quite so bloody. It’s a little sacrilegious to eat prime rib this way, but the truth is, it’s still unbelievably delicious. So eat your meat the way you want to – the one thing you can’t mess with is the outer crust.
If red meat is served rare to medium rare, a flabby crust just won’t do. A crispy, caramelized, salty crust that contrasts with the soft interior meat is essential. You can sear the meat on the stove then cook it at a low temp for a long time to reach the goal of a crunchy exterior and soft middle, or you can be a little more aggressive (and let’s be honest, lazy) about it and let the oven take care of everything.
Cranking the heat up to 450 F for 30 minutes will take care of the outside. It will become crispy, crackling and deeply browned. Then dropping the temp down to 375 F will take care of the middle in a relatively short amount of time. Your holiday dinner will be cooked to perfection before you know it. A luscious slab of prime rib rippled with buttery fat and served alongside a savory and earthy mushroom and bacon sauté will make your dinner party or holiday feast a night to remember.
Standing Prime Rib Roast
A standing rib roast is comprised of the seven ribs between the chuck and the loin. The larger the roast is, the more ribs will be attached, making it look more impressive. The roast is called “standing” because the attached ribs provide a platform of sorts that the meat stands on while it cooks.
Prime rib is the name of the cut and does not necessarily mean you are getting USDA Prime meat. Most standing prime rib roasts are “choice” quality. You can special order a USDA Prime prime rib, which has more fat covering the roast and marbling the meat, although be prepared to pay top dollar.
As a general rule, buy 1 pound of roast per person. This allows for thick slices and leftovers.
After you cut the rib bones off the cooked roast, they are the perfect, although messy, appetizer. Gnaw the meat off immediately, or smear a little mustard on the bones and broil until crispy.
For a 3 – 4 pound standing rib roast, rub the entire outside with:
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
For a 6-8 pound standing rib roast, add another teaspoon of each seasoning.
Mushroom and Bacon Saute
2 strips of bacon, cut into small pieces
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
4-6 sprigs fresh thyme
Two hours before cooking, remove the roast from refrigeration.
Preheat oven to 450. Position rack in bottom of oven.
Combine salt, pepper and paprika and rub all over the roast. Place the roast, ribs down, on a rack in a roasting pan.
Cook for 30 minutes then drop heat to 375 F. Continue cooking at this temperature until meat reaches 120 – 125 F degrees (or higher, for meat that is less rare). As a guideline, assume that once you turn the heat down the meat will need to cook 15 minutes for every pound. However, be careful, because in the last 15 minutes the temp can go from rare to medium quickly, especially if the roast is small.
Let the roast rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.
While the roast is resting, heat the bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat. After a few minutes add the shallot then the mushrooms. If the bacon is not rendering enough fat, add a little olive oil to the pan. Saute until the mushrooms are soft. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh thyme.
Slice the bones away from the roast. Cut the roast into 1/2 – 1-inch slices. Serve the mushrooms bacon sauté on the side.