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How to Cook Prime Rib

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Picture of How to Cook Prime Rib
Here's one way to cook a Prime Rib Roast. While clearly not the only way, this seems to work pretty well in a "home" context; no special ovens needed, and cooked in reasonable time with reasonable food safety...

This particular prime rib was new-years-day dinner... yum.

(That's me cooking. The purple one took most of the pictures.)

 
 
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Step 1: Ingredients and Equipment

This particular recipe is for "rock salt roasted prime rib of beef", or something like that. The roast is buried in rock salt, which keeps the outside from getting burnt and absorbs fat/etc while the roast cooks in a rather hot oven. (In general, the difficulty with large roasts like prime rib is getting the inside and the outside cooked to edible doneness levels at the same time.)

  • Prime rib of beef. These show up in normal markets around major holidays, and are probably in your better butchers and wholesale clubs and such all the time, or perhaps can be ordered. These days a prime rib roast is available either boneless or with the ribs still attached; cost per pound is somewhat less for the bony version, but cost per roast is about the same (based on my looking at CostCo.) I usually get boneless roasts for convenience of carving and serving; other people believe that the bones add flavor. I don't have any particular hints on how to tell a good roast from a bad roast; you pretty much have to trust your butcher. A whole prime rib will weigh more than 15 pounds and cost over $100. But it will feed 20+ people, so that's not really as bad as it sounds. Hereafter the roast shall be referred to as "the Beast."
  • Large Pan. This should be large and deep enough to contain the whole Beast in all three dimensions, plus enough room for the salt.
  • Rock salt. Enough to bury the whole Beast. About 10 to 15 pounds. You probably don't want to use rock salt that is targeted toward melting ice on driveways; the stuff I use claims to be for making homemade ice-cream.
  • Other seasonings to taste. Or not (see later.)
  • Meat thermometer. There are two common varieties of meat thermometer. One is designed to sit in your roast in the oven while it cooks. The other is an "instant read", that you're supposed to stick in to check the temp, but NOT leave in the oven... The former is preferred, so you can keep a continuous eye on how the cooking is proceeding.
TT-MON!2 years ago
I used to be the Prime Rib cook in a restaraunt. There they cooked the roast in low heat (can't remember the temperture. That was 30 years ago) and the oven had a lot of steam.
You may be able to go that way if you put a pan of water in the oven so the roast does not burn.
Throwing away that rock salt! There is potential for some great flavored ice cream here. This is a great 'ible, thanks for the pictures.
vandal11384 years ago
At this stage I would recommend using some butchers twine and making a little "net" with it (just lie some strings vertically, then make horizontal rows and tie where they meet) then braid some to make handles. Put your net down on top of the salt, then put the beast on the net. You now have a VERY easy way to remove the roast without puncturing it, keeping all those tasty juices inside and allowing the carry over heat to do its job. Great instructable though!!
twocvbloke4 years ago
I have to say, I don't think I would enjoy heavily salted roast beef, though my mother might (she likes her salt, what she uses in one meal I could use on 6!!!), but personally I like it roasted the traditional way, or if I were salting beef, it would be for preservation... :) Looks damned tasty though, but being a meatatarian, all meat looks tasty... :D
westfw (author)  twocvbloke4 years ago
It actually doesn't get that salty, except for the very edges. The salt is more of a heat spreader, moisture retainer, and fat sucker-upper than a seasoning. Gravel would probably work just as well, except that the remnants would not dissolve the juices, and you'd break your teeth. :-)
I like the idea of heat spreading (and yep, gravel would be pretty horrible!!!), but I do like the juices left over for making a proper flavoursome gravy... :)
autolycos6 years ago
Have you ever had luck rinsing and recycling the salt? Seems like something reasonable to try--just rinse it in a colander. BTW, great instructable! I look forward to trying it!
westfw (author)  autolycos6 years ago
think the problem is that the salt is soluble, and the stuff you'd want to rinse off (mostly beef fat) isn't. Even if it worked, you be rinsing off that beef fat to go down your drain and congeal into plumber-requiring lumps... You could probably make brine and beef fat, if you have a use for brine...
Maybe dissolve the salt in a couple gallons of water, cool until the fat rises and congeals on the top, take the fat layer off and dehydrate the brine. Either way, you could still at least use the salt for the driveway in the winter.
Dude... clean your oven! Otherwise, my mouth is watering right now as I look at those pics. As Rachael Ray would say, "Yum-o!"
Oh hon, that's what everyone's oven used to look like before that self-cleaning stuff came along. Now it's only broken ovens (like mine) that look like that. I'd say that your comment just volunteered you to clean the oven, but the stuff in those sprays is very, very unfriendly to lungs. Rather keep the oven dirty and your lungs clean. Not speaking for westfw, and considering that yummy recipe he just gave us and the prime rib roast that's been in my freezer for two weeks, I give him a free pass on the dirty oven thing. westfw, get yourself a plate of that stuff and have a seat right near me. That was an incredible Instructable, you know. Definitely an A+ result. b d
My oven has charcoal on the bottom.
westfw (author)  SlothOnSpeed6 years ago
I prefer to think of my oven as "well seasoned"; it doesn't need cleaning till it generates "burning" smells instead of "cooking" smells when I use it :-) (more seriously, it is self-cleaning, but it vents into the house, so running a cleaning cycle creates an objectionable odor. I'll wait for spring when I can open the windows...)
Rishnai westfw5 years ago
Ha, that's my indicator of oven cleanliness, too! And for the microwave, when everything comes out smelling like lasagna 3 weeks after I cooked lasagna, time to clean.
Migs5 years ago
What a nice Instructable. Lots of pictures and a great explanation! Keep up the good work! -Migs
iskandr5 years ago
I'm a butcher, and for all my prime rib customers I recommend using bone in rib roasts. Ask your butcher if they will debone the roast and then tie it back with butcher's twine. You can follow any recipe for cooking, then cut the twine before carving. You get the extra flavor from the bone and the ease of carving.
westfw (author)  iskandr5 years ago
You mean have it deboned, and the tied back to the bone? An interesting idea! However, the main reason I use the boneless version is because it fits the pan better; other cooking methods may work better with bone-in roasts.
katesisco6 years ago
Way back when, the secret, now long forgotten, is low heat. LOW HEAT During the depression I read that lining a hat box with straw, sawdust, ect and adding hot coals, then the covered dish then more insulation, and the dish would could just fine. Just need the size so meat won't dry out. What I do now is get a nice 3 lb roast and freeze it, pop it into a LOW HEAT oven for hours and take it out while the inside is still red. Very tender. Can also do chuck not frozen low heat longer. Just not high enough to cause the tendons to toughen. Believe me this works; and this type of info long available before and after WWII; lost so commercial interests can take over for profit. Sorry to lecture, but seems we are always reinventing the wheel for commercial interests.
westfw (author)  katesisco6 years ago
The "low heat" methods were what I was alluding to when I mentioned in the intro "reasonable time and reasonable food safety." Given the modern meat processing industry, I don't know that I trust cooking methods that involve keeping the meat at prime bacterial growth temperatures (internally) for relatively long periods of time. (OTOH, most contamination is surface contamination. And on the gripping hand I think risks are generally exaggerated, so...) I found plenty of "how to cook prime rib" instruction elsewhere recomending 200F ovens, so I don't think it's a "hidden" secret at all (I think it has more to do with families not having someone home to spend hours prepping dinner.) I did do an experiment with an on-sale roast at 200F "till cooked", and it does make for a more even internal done-ness. (And feel free to post an instructable on your alternate method. There's certainly more than one way to cook a roast!)
SpinWard6 years ago
I really want to try this but ,this may sound weird, but I'm not a fan of salt. I just don't like the taste. I'm sure the outside is salty but is the inside okay? Can I wrap it with foil to keep the salt taste out but cook it well? Thanks for the info!!
smaple SpinWard6 years ago
I could suggest that you use kosher or sea salt because you are going to need it for the cooking process. Salt and pepper are fine and believe it or not salt enhances not only the flavor the meat, but other spices used. It will not be salty on the inside. I am not a fan of table salt, but sea salt is great and you can ground it like pepper.
westfw (author)  SpinWard6 years ago
The inside does not get noticeably salty.
SpinWard westfw6 years ago
Yay!! That's great! Thanks!
Quixii6 years ago
Teehee, I took the pictures. =) They really do look delicious.

I'd say I look forward to using it at home, but..
SpinWard6 years ago
Oh...my...gosh that looks delicious. My husband loves to eat prime rib when we go out. Now I know how to cook it at home. Great instructable and yummy pictures!! I thanks you and he will too!!
noahw6 years ago
This question has been on the burning questions list for three rounds straight and no one took a shot at answering it during all that time. You've done a great job on this Instructable and I'm glad to have as part of the Burning Questions Group. Nice work!
matseng6 years ago
I agree with modelmanjohn: Clean the oven :-) But I'll definitely try to salt bake some meat in the next couple of weeks. Probably beef ribs since pork isn't a big hit here... What about those rubber oven mitts? I seen something like them in a store here. Do they work well? They seems so thin, but maybe the insulation factor is much higher in that material than in the standard cloth type. It really p*sses me of every time I'm getting something hot and moist out of the oven and the mitt gets damp and conducts the heat as well as a piece of tin foil. The rubber ones doesn't get affected by moist, right?
westfw (author)  matseng6 years ago
Like you, I find that the major failure mode of cloth oven mitts is that they get wet with hot juice or grease, which ruins their insulation AND is hot. The silicone mitts don't get wet, so they're immune to that, and then seem to insulate well enough. I recall an ad that showed someone dipping their silicone-mitted hand in a pot of boiling water, and you really can do that... I like them. On the other hand, fit is more of an issue. My daughter with her smaller hands has problems being able to use them at all...
Boy, does that look delicious. My dad and mom do this all the time, it comes out great! Thanks for showing!
(added to favorites)
canida6 years ago
That looks good.
I haven't tried the salt method before- maybe for our first go we'll do something a bit smaller. ;)
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