The Unfussy Rib Roast
Meat and potatoes. It’s not how I usually eat. Far too often it’s dull and boring. I mean, what’s more played out than a roast of beef. But when done right? Oh my.
Getting a bone-in rib roast is a commitment. They don’t come small, and they aren’t cheap. When you are making one, it’s going to be the centerpiece of a grand meal. Maybe it’s for friends. Maybe it’s for family. But regardless, there are going to be several hungry people waiting for your roast to be placed on the table.
Your friends and family may say they aren’t judging you. But we all know that they are.
I know this first hand as I attempted my first standing rib roast for friends at a New Year’s Eve dinner in those days long ago before the kids came along. We started the meal with lobster bisque. There were yorkshire puddings to go along with the beef. And, amazingly, it wasn’t a disaster. However, for most of the early evening, I was totally ill at ease that the roast would either be too rare when it came out. Or even worse, that I would cook it beyond the medium rare point and ruin this expensive joint of meat.
After yesterday’s bold experiment with this same cut of meat, I’m never going to fret again.
It’s time to give credit where it’s due. My mother was visiting Albany recently, and while we were driving in the car she was reading some crazy technique she saw on Facebook about how to cook a rib roast. It sounded like one of those click-bait posts, promising a perfect rib roast in a fraction of the time.
As she read the instructions from her phone, I was incredulous. The recipe called for blasting the roast with intense heat for a short period of time. Then all you had to do was turn off the oven, set a timer, and forget the roast was in the oven. The oven door had to stay shut while the roast finished cooking. No peeking. No prodding. No nothing.
Just set it, and forget it.
The only way that could possibly make sense is if the roast was perfectly room temperature, down to the core. That would mean leaving it out of the refrigerator for a shockingly long time. And even then, I was doubtful if it could produce a crust as good as pan searing.
For great results, I’ve always trusted Cooks Illustrated. And it was their method I had used successfully in the past. That said, their low heat roast takes hours, requires tying, and makes a mess of the kitchen when searing the meat.
So with a wandering eye, I tracked down those unlikely instructions my mom found on Facebook.
Reading through some of the 548 comments on the post, gave me a bit more confidence in this approach, so I discussed it with my father-in-law and we decided to give it a try.
This is one of those times I wish I had a picture to show just how perfectly medium rare this was from edge to edge. When it came out of the oven, the thermometer read 130 degrees. It was juicy, flavorful, and delicious. I attribute the difference to the expected 125 temperature to the fact we didn’t use an oven thermometer, which filled me with apprehension at the onset of this project. Now we know that at high heat, the oven at the farm runs a bit hot.
The only thing we did differently was replace the herbs de provence with some dried rosemary, mostly because that’s what was around the house. My mother-in-law made mashed potatoes. Mrs. Fussy made some beef gravy using a bit of the buttery drippings. It was the best rib roast meal I’ve had in a long time.
Really, it couldn’t have been easier.
Perhaps the only downside is from a food safety perspective. This is not my area of expertise. But I can’t imagine the federal government being copacetic with the idea of leaving raw red meat out of the refrigerator for six hours. Sure, any surface bacteria will be obliterated in a 500 degree oven after thirty minutes, but if there’s anything nasty lurking inside, it’s going to have a nice warm environment in which to reproduce.
So be forewarned, I’m not vouching for food safety, only ease and deliciousness.
Note: The oven does start pumping out smoke. So hopefully you have a vented hood or can open a window or two. We were able to execute this without setting off any smoke detectors, but your mileage may vary. And to be fair, all our standing rib roasts have smoked up the house at one stage or another. It’s really kind of unavoidable if you want to get the meat nice and crusty. That said, a good blowtorch could really be a game changer.