Sunday, December 23, 2007

One For The Elf

Love Elf asked if I had any tips for prime rib. While I'm far from an expert, here are my tips:

- Make sure the roast is at ROOM TEMPERATURE before cooking it. Take it out an hour before you plan to cook. This is so it cooks evenly. Don't worry, it's not chicken, it'll be fine.

- Get a digital roasting thermometer. The kind where you leave the probe in the meat and the readout attached by a wire and kept outside the oven. They're accurate, and you won't have to open the oven at all during the roasting (which is death for a roast). One of the best kitchen gadgets I own.

- Don't TIME your roast. That's stupid. Use a thermometer. The temperature is key, not how long it's been in. Shape is just as important as weight, and nobody takes that into account when giving times. That said, timing charts are good to give you a rough idea of how early you'll need to start.

- I also highly recommend a coil-based oven thermometer. They run about $5 and are basically a big dial-like thermometer. Put it in the oven when you're preheating to make sure your oven isn't lying (mine is off by 15 degrees, my friend's is off by 25 - they had no idea why nothing cooked quite properly). You're only as good as your appliances.

- Keep it simple. Oil, salt, pepper (fresh ground if possible), maybe some garlic. You want the flavour of the meat to shine through. That said, I'm not sure it's possible to use too much salt or pepper, and most people use too little, so don't be shy about it.

- There are two schools of thought on roasting - start high and turn down the heat, or start low and turn it up. I go for the latter. Starting at 500 degrees will dry out the meat. There's also no need to sear the meat in a pan beforehand, unless maybe if your oven sucks.

- If you're doing a gravy or jus, you might want to set the roast on a bed of vegetables (carrots, onions, potatoes, herbs, etc..)

- For the love of all things meaty - LET THE ROAST REST after you take it out of the oven. It ain't done yet. 30 minutes is a good resting time. The meat is still cooking in its own heat, and the juices are being reabsorbed.

So, putting it all together, here's how I do a roast:

(all temps in F)

- Take out the roast 1 hour beforehand and let it come to room temperature
- Rub the roast with canola or vegetable oil, making it all shiny
- liberally apply salt and fresh ground pepper
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees for 30 minutes
- Place the roast on a bed of vegetables or a roasting rack in the roasting pan. NO COVER
- Insert your thermometer probe into the roast from the top, at a slight angle, making sure it's in the center. Set the alarm (if it has one) to 135 degrees. (or 125 degrees if you won't be watching it, which should be come clear shortly)
- put the roast in the oven and turn the temperature down to 200 degrees.
- leave it alone until you the thermometer is about 10 degrees below the target temp (this is why I said 125 degrees. Target temp = 135. 10 degrees less = 125)
- take it out of the oven, cover lightly with foil.
- crank the oven to 500 degrees. When it hits 500, let the oven continue to heat for 15 min.
- take off the foil, and return the roast to the oven to get a nice crust and hit the target temp. 10-15 min.
- Take it out. Put the roast on a rack over a cutting board or plate (to keep it from sitting in its own juices) and cover it with foil and let it rest for about 30 minutes or until ready to serve.
- If you're a doing a gravy or jus, take out the veggies, deglaze the pan, and use your favourite gravy recipe with the juices.


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