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Roasting a Prime Rib of Beef

(Newsletter Issue #022)


How to roast a prime rib of beef

A prime rib of beef is roasted in exactly the same way as a pork or lamb rack, in a heavy-bottomed roasting pan without a roasting rack, and traditionally serves with some gravy. The beef rib roast can be cooked on its own or, for more gravy, on top of trimmings (use the trimmings from the ribs themselves or buy beef stew meat and cut it into very small pieces).


A standing beef rib roasts is too large to be cut into chops like a lamb or pork rack. To carve a cooked roast, either lay it on its side and slice toward the bone, detaching the slices from the ribs as you go, or cut the meat completely away from the bones and then slice the meat.


Kitchen Tips :

  • Order rib roasts by the rib. One rib makes a generous serving for 2 people, so a three-rib roast will easily serve 6.

  • This section of ribs taken from the loin end has less fat than one taken from the shoulder end.

  • Because a rib roast is relatively large, it is best to brown it at a relatively high temperature (400oF) and then continue roasting at a lower temperature (350oF).

  • When the roast is cooked, set it on the back of the stove or in another warm place, loosely covered with aluminum foil, and let it rest for 20-30 minutes before serving.

  • Other cuts of beef can be roasted in the same way as a rib roast, but the timing will be somewhat different. When timing any roast, don't blindly follow weight/temperature guidelines (so many minutes per pound), because the shape of the roast affects the cooking time. A long thin roast, such as a tenderloin, will cook faster than a rectangular roast (such as a standing rib roast) of the same weight. Beef tenderloin cooks very quickly - 25 minutes or less, depending on size - because it's a thin elongated cut, quickly penetrated by the oven heat, and because it's typically served rare. The major issue in cooking tenderloin is that it be in the oven long enough to brown before it overcooks. Unless you're sure that your oven gets hot enough to brown the roast before it cooks through, brown it on top of the stove and then roast at 400oF. Before roasting, fold the skinny tail end of the tenderloin under itself and tie it to equalize the thickness of the meat. Top round roast and eye of the round are less tender cuts than rib or tenderloin, but they are relatively inexpensive and excellent thinly sliced for sandwiches. Eye of the round, because it is relatively small, should be browned on all sides on top of the stove before roasting. Roast at 400oF until rare. Top roast may be roasted in the same way as rib roast.

Roasting a Rib of Beef

1. Tie the roast between the ribs to help pull the meat into an even round that will cook more evenly.
2. Roast at 400oF until browned, about 45 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350oF and continue roasting until the temperature in the center of the roast reaches 120oF to 125oF for rare, or 125oF to 130oF for medium-rare.
3. Professional chefs often insert a skewer into the roast and touch it to their lip to determine doneness. You can train yourself to do this by using an instant-read thermometer, checking it and touching it with your lips.

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