While turkey rules the Thanksgiving table, prime rib is the choice for many Americans at Christmas. Turning out a restaurant quality meal just got easier thanks to longtime Catch 35 chef Eddie Sweeney. He tells Steve Alexander in Part 1 what steps to take, from selecting the cut at the meat counter to roasting it to perfection in your home oven. And, in Part 2, how to prepare au jus and/or Demi-glace, and horseradish sauce.
CHEF EDDIE SWEENEY’S PRO TIPS FOR PREPARING PRIME RIB AT HOME
SELECTION: You’re basically looking for a standing rib roast. Prime is preferred, but Choice or Upper Choice is a good runner-up. Black Angus beef is the best. You can buy it bone-in, or sometimes the butcher will have it taken off the bone and then trussed to the bone with string. That’s a nice touch for when it comes carving time you don’t have to mess with the bones.
AT HOME: Remove the wrapping and pat it dry with a paper towel. Store it in the fridge overnight and the outer layer will dry out a bit, which will help with establishing a crust when you roast it.
When you’re ready to cook it, remove it from the fridge and let it stand for two hours to let it come to room temperature before you put it in the oven. Rub it top and bottom with a mix of Dijon mustard and freshly prepared horseradish, a little bit of chopped thyme, rosemary and salt.
While the oven heats to 450 degrees, prepare the roasting pan with a bed of vegetables: Two bulbs of garlic, cut in half; an onion, cut roughly – you can leave the skins on these things – one carrot, two ribs of celery, and then put the roast on top of that.
Put it in the oven for about 30 minutes. A crust will start to form. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and then roast it to the perfect temperature. For medium rare, that’s 125 degrees, which should take two to two-and-a-half hours. Note: Since the roast is cylindrical, the cooking time is roughly the same for roasts between six and 12 pounds. Be sure and push the meat thermometer all the way in for an accurate temperature reading.
Place the roast on the stove top and let it rest. The temperature will rise another five to seven degrees, which is perfect for medium rare.*
TO PREPARE DEMI GLAS OR AU JUS: Remove the roast from the pan, skim a little bit of the fat out, then add a couple of hits of Makers Mark and a little bit of red wine, get all the little bits off the bottom of the pan, add some beef stock, and let it simmer on the stove top to thicken. Smash up the garlic bulbs and vegetables and then strain it all out with a fine mesh strainer.
TO PREPARE THE HORSERADISH SAUCE: Mix freshly prepared horseradish and mayo, thin it with heavy cream, add a couple of dashes of Worcestershire, and some fresh cracked black pepper.
Slice the prime rib either bone-in, or cut away from the bone and serve boneless. Top with portobello mushrooms, sauteed with garlic and ghee.
*COOKING IN A SMOKER: Apply the rub, place the roast in a smoker at 225 degrees for about three hours, then finish it in a hot oven to get a nice crust.