Have you ever enjoyed prime rib?
If you're not a vegetarian, and enjoy going out to eat – I'd guess the answer is yes. Most of us have given in to the tantalizing $9.99 prime rib special at some point in our lives.
But have you ever roasted a prime rib at home? And served it, in all its tender, juicy glory, alongside a baked stuffed potato, asparagus, and wonderfully tender, pillowy soft Yorkshire pudding?
I'd guess the answer is no.
Too challenging? Not when you follow these 10 easy steps to a gala feast that's totally attainable by the home cook.
1) Buy your roast. You want a standing rib roast or prime rib roast; same thing, different names. This cut usually won't just be sitting around in the meat case, so ask one of the guys in white coats behind the meat counter to help you.
First you'll be asked, "How many ribs?" Two is the smallest you want to go; most people prefer at least three ribs, to ensure even cooking.
You'll also probably be asked, "Bone in or bone out?" I like to cook roasts – chicken, or beef – with the bone in, as I feel the bone lends flavor. (Plus, the dog is in for a real treat if I've cooked a bone-in beef roast.) But if you're uneasy carving around a big bone, ask for the roast to be de-boned.
Now, this is NOT an inexpensive cut – I happened to get mine on sale for $4.99/lb.; usually they're more than that. Be ready for some possible sticker shock.
Also, be prepared to invite friends for dinner, if you're just a couple; even a small roast will easily feed 5 to 6 people. I chose a two-rib roast, and it fed four, with plenty of leftovers.
2) Rub the roast all over with your favorite herbs. I'm using rosemary, thyme, and parsley here, plus chopped garlic. Wrap loosely and refrigerate overnight, or until you're ready to cook – though not longer than a day or two.
Next up: roasting. Put the meat in a lightly greased pan, as shown above; I'm using a 9" x 13" pan. Roast in a preheated 450°F oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325°F and continue to roast until it's as done as you like.
A meat thermometer or instant-read thermometer is your best friend here, and really the only way to tell for sure when the roast is as done as you like. Measure by inserting the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat; don't let it touch the bone.
When the roast reaches your chosen temperature, remove it from the oven, tent it loosely with foil, and keep it cozy on the back of the stove while you make the Yorkshire pudding and prepare the rest of the meal. The roast will continue to cook a bit as it rests; and will lose less juice when you carve it.
So, what's your desired temperature? Here are some guidelines.
120°F-125°F – rare (deep red in the middle, pink around the edges).
130°F-135°F – medium rare (very pink center, fading to tan around the edges)
140°F-145°F – medium (light pink center, brown edges)
150°F-155°F – medium well (no pink at all; tan in the center, brown edges)
over 155°F – well done (brown all the way through)
VERY broadly speaking, your two- or three-rib roast will take 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours to reach the degree of doneness you like.
While the meat is roasting, you're not going to be sitting idly by – there's plenty to do besides sip wine and schmooze with your friends!
3) Set the table.
I know you can do a better job than this! I love to cook, but setting a fancy table? Not up my alley.
As you can see from the reflection in the door, though, our friends' senior-citizen Golden, Silvio, was pretty interested.
4) Ready whatever else you're going to serve.
Baked stuffed potatoes are simple to make ahead; I always keep a stash in the freezer, ready to thaw and heat whenever the occasion presents itself. All I do is microwave whole, scrubbed potatoes; slice in half lengthwise; scoop out the flesh; mash with cheddar cheese, sour cream, and salt; and stuff back into the skins.
And asparagus is a snap – literally. Snap off the woody ends; yes, just snap them off, they'll break where they naturally choose to, which is usually an inch or two from the end. Lay the spears on a large, microwave-safe plate; and cover with a glass cover, or plastic wrap if you don't worry about using plastic in the microwave. Set them aside until you're carving the roast.
5) Make the batter for Yorkshire pudding.
You've heard of Yorkshire pudding, right? It's an absolute Sunday roast must-have in the UK. And it's not complicated: flour, milk, eggs, and salt, whisked together and poured into the pan from which you've just removed your crusty brown roast. While the roast rests, the pudding bakes and PUFFS.
And if this sounds suspiciously like popovers, you're absolutely right; they're basically one and the same, though popovers are made in individual servings, and Yorkshire pudding bakes in your roasting pan.
Beat 2 large eggs and 1 cup milk until well combined. Beat the liquid into the dry ingredients until it's smooth and frothy. Let this mixture stand at room temperature while the roast cooks.
6) Take the perfectly cooked roast out of the oven. As the cook and baker, feel free to nibble on some of those crusty edges; but DO NOT cut a slice, even a small one. As the roast rests, the juices settle back into the meat, making it much juicier on your plate.
Tent the roast with foil, and set it at the back of the stove while you bake the Yorkshire pudding and cook the side dishes.
Turn the oven up to 400°F and place the pan back in the oven to heat up until the drippings are just beginning to smoke.
7) Bake the Yorkshire pudding.
Some folks like to drain most of the fat out of the roasting pan before adding the pudding batter. Do so if you wish; but I feel, in for a penny, in for a pound – this isn't a low-calorie dinner, so I leave a good bit of fat, along with the brown drippings, in the pan.
Pour the batter into the hot pan, tilting the pan so the batter covers the bottom. I've used a 9" x 13" pan here; that's about the right size for this amount of batter, though you could go up to about 10" x 14", if you like.
The fat and batter will naturally mingle; there's no need to stir. Your goal is to pop that hot pan back into the oven ASAP.
Set your timer for 25 minutes, and turn your attention to the vegetables.
if the potatoes are at room temperature already, place them in a pan, tent with foil, and put them in the oven alongside the pudding. Alternatively, warm them in the microwave for a few minutes just before serving.
Asparagus cooks wonderfully well in the microwave. I find 2 to 4 minutes is all it needs; the stalks remain bright green, and tweaking the time just a bit yields anything from snapping crisp to nicely soft.
8 ) Carve the roast. My husband carved this nice, thick slab, then cut off a bite before I could take its picture!
Cut around the bone, if you've cooked a bone-in roast. Lay slices on a warm serving platter.
"Did someone mention a BONE?"
9) After 25 minutes, or when it looks like this, take the Yorkshire pudding out of the oven. Cut it into big squares.
10) Sit down. Pass the food. Pour the wine. Enjoy!
Here's to a happy holiday dinner for one and all. To quote Tiny Tim at the end of A Christmas Carol, "God bless us, every one."