Roast Prime Rib
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 great hash.

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 baked bread.

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 de-glaze 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 reduction.

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

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

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.

About the author: An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the
vice president of the New Hampshire Farmer’s Market Association (
www. and helps run the Sanbornton Farmers' Market. Along with his wife,
Joanne, he grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries at Weather Hill
Farm in Sanbornton, NH.  
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