Prime rib is tender, flavorful, and often quite expensive. It’s without a doubt THE best cut on a cow.
However, the term “prime” can refer to both the cut of meat as well as the USDA grade. Just because the label on your meat says the cut is “prime” doesn’t mean that it is actually of prime grade.
The grade below prime is known as choice, which is what most supermarkets carry. Speak to the butcher at your local market to ensure you are purchasing the cut of meat you were intending to.
Most of the time, when you ask the butcher for prime rib, he or she will assume you are strictly speaking about the cut of meat and you will receive a choice grade roast.
The quality of the meat will still be very good, but if you are looking to splurge, you may need to ask the butcher to place a special order in advance of when you want to pick it up.
A full prime rib, also known as a standing rib roast, consists of seven ribs. Typically, a full cut will weigh between 16 and 18 pounds, and should be enough to feed about fourteen guests. When setting your menu, plan on serving two people per rib.
Prime rib can be sold bone-in or boneless. Bone-in is recommended for a juicier and more flavorful dish.
Ask the butcher to prep the meat for you, so you won’t have to do it once you get it home. He or she will cut the bones away from the bottom. This will make carving easier, once it has finished cooking.
The butcher will also tie the roast for you. If not, you will need to do this or the outer layer of meat will pull away and overcook.
If you don’t have a butcher in area that deals with better cuts (you probably won’t find these at your local chain grocer), you may want to check out online offerings from CertifiedSteak.com.
In order for the roast to cook evenly, it must not be cold when you put it in the oven. Loosely cover the meat and allow it to come to room temperature before cooking. This should take between two to three hours, but the time may vary depending on the size.
This is a no frills method with the opportunity for you to apply herbs and spices to taste. Personally, I find less is more with this cut of beef. Let the true meat flavors shine through and add a little au jus when you serve it for a more juicy and rich taste. A little horseradish also works well.
Making Au Jus
Au jus simply means “its own juice” in French, and refers to the liquid naturally given off by the beef as it cooks. Traditionally, it is simply the liquid that is expelled from the cooked meat.
However, most people like a little more and either prepare a reduction from beef stock or buy it canned (canned consommé also works well for this).
Here’s how you make it from scratch:
About Jennifer Swartvagher
Jennifer is an experienced journalist and author. Her work has been featured on TODAY Parents, The New York Times Blog, BlogHer, Scary Mommy, and scores of other parenting and cooking publications.