We've all been there before.
That feeling of helplessness, desperation, and stress knowing that guests are coming over really soon for dinner and you're really not all that sure what you're doing in the kitchen.
Not too long ago, I was tasked with cooking for 20+ people who were coming over to my home. It was a thank you dinner for all the volunteers who serve tirelessly on our church music team week after week. My friend and I (who co-lead the music ministry at church) like to show appreciation for our team's efforts every so often. Since we both love to cook, throwing a big dinner bash has always been our preferred way of expressing thanks.
This time, however, there was a conflicting meeting right before the dinner. My co-leader friend, her husband, and Bryan were all at this meeting, which meant I was on my own all afternoon to prep and cook for this party.
This normally would not be a problem at all. I'm a pretty confident cook in the kitchen and I often prepare meals for large groups of people. This time, however, was just a bit different.
I was supposed to cook a huge 9-lb prime rib.
Something I had never, ever done before.
I frantically scoured the web, reading all sorts of conflicting instructions. The standard recipes typically said to cook at around 325 ° F, with many of them starting out with some sort of sear, either a pan or under a broiler at a really high temperature (like 450 °F to 500 °F) before lowering the heat.
But then there were other articles that suggested the broiling/searing step was unnecessary because it overcooked the meat more. And other posts suggested cooking for many more hours (than I had) at much lower temperatures. Finally, there were many articles that recommended salting or brining the meat at least overnight.
I glanced up at the clock. I had literally 3.5 hours before the guests were arriving. I obviously couldn't pre-salt the meat at this stage. I toyed around with whether to sear or not. Even though there's a part of me that thinks you may not need to, I was nervous at this point and didn't want to take any chances.
So I did a hybrid of all those recipes on the web, largely influenced by this post. My co-leader friend had brought me some twine, so I tied up the meat to make it even. Then I briefly seared each side for a couple minutes before popping it into a 250 ° F oven. This was not the lowest temperature I saw, but it was lower than many of the classic ones.
I set the internal temperature at 120° F, which is rare. And then I waited.
I definitely cut it pretty close. At around 5:30 (about 3 hours later), my first guests started to arrive. It was around that time when the first roast (yes, I cut the 9-lb beast into two sections to speed up the cooking time) was ready. The second one reached the right internal temperature about 20 minutes later.
I took them out and let them rest for about 10-15 minutes.
And then we sliced it.
And it turned out beautifully. I was absolutely amazed. After all that stress, all that worrying, it seems like, as long as you don't overcook it, it will turn out OK.
The fool-proof part is just this: use a thermometer. As long as you cook at a low enough temperature (and I think 250 °F worked fine), and you take it out when it reaches the internal temperature you want, your meat should turn out tender, juicy, and not at all overcooked.
Heck, even a complete newbie like me made a perfect prime rib on her first try.
As I look back, there might be a few things I would change. The prime rib was indeed a tad under-salted if you didn't eat it with any sauces (e.g., horseradish, mustard, etc.). If I were to do this again, I would seriously consider pre-salting the meat the night before.
What else would I try to do differently? I would consider not searing it and instead follow up with a quick broil at the end. That would most certainly save all that annoying splattering mess that comes along with trying to pan sear 4-lb chunks of meat.
I would love to hear your opinion on what you think is the best way to make prime rib.
Like I said, I've only done this once. It turned out very well, but I'd love to hear ideas on how I could improve it.
Please comment below!
Foolproof Easy Prime Rib
largely influenced by Hungry Mouse
Definitely read her post for very detailed, photo-driven step by step instructions!
1 boneless piece of prime rib (mine was 9 lbs)
Kosher salt & pepper to taste
Grapeseed oil (or another high temperature oil)
Preheat the oven to 250 °F.
If the roast is large, cut it into two halves in order to save cooking time.
Tie together with twine so that the meat stays the same shape after cooking.
Slather the prime rib with a high smoke point oil (e.g., grapeseed oil) and generously salt (and optionally pepper) the prime rib on all sides. If you can do it the night before, even better. Ideally the roast would be able to dry out a bit.
On medium high heat, sear on all sides in a large pan using a high heat cooking oil (I used grapeseed oil), about 2-3 minutes per side. Be careful not to get splattered by hot oil!
Transfer the roast to the oven, ideally in a roasting pan (though I didn't have one so I just made a makeshift one by putting my roast on a steaming rack inside a glass tray) until internal temperature reaches 120 °F for rare ((total cooking for me was about 3.5 - 4 hours). Let rest 10 minutes at room temperature, tented. Slice and serve, maybe with horseradish or a sauce made from the jus? It's pretty tasty just straight up.
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