Rob's "Cook Slow, Finish High" Prime Rib Au Jus

The prime rib dinner can be an elegant affair, or a disaster (overcooked and well done). I am posting my recipe because it is an easy way to get great results, with some reasonable effort. Prime rib can be expensive, but I have had great results with using choice, boneless ribeye roasts. Practically the same thing, just not the prime grading. Stay away from select grading, because you get what you pay for. 

During my restaurant career, I have served over 180,000 pounds of prime rib. While I have used different methods and recipes, this is my favorite:

My days at Steak and Ale. Coupon drops like this and we would go through 100# a night.

1.) 24 hours before roasting, unpack the rib from its’ cryovac packaging, pat dry with paper towels, place uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. This allows the excessive moisture to evaporate and the outside to dry.

2.) Pull rib out of the refrigerator and let sit for 2 hours (1 hour for a smaller chunk) prior to cooking. This is to take the chill off the beef. Keep loosely covered with plastic wrap. (I am not a fan of leaving product out at room temp, but I make an exception for this large-mass cut of beef)

3.) Preheat oven to the lowest setting. 170 degrees is great, 200 will work. Ovens vary. Since this recipe is slow and low…the lower, the better.

4.) Season the rib roast generously with kosher (coarse) salt and fresh cracked black pepper on all sides and place on a V-rack in the roasting pan with the fat cap facing up. The fat will melt into the beef and add to the tenderness of the final product. Place a temperature probe in the center of the rib to monitor the temperature. Place in the oven and cook until the center of the roast registers about 8 degrees less than the doneness that you want. For a full sized (10+#) roast in a 170°F oven, this will take around 5 to 6 hours. In a 200°F oven, this will take 3 to 4 hours. Very important to monitor the temp as the rib cooks (ovens vary!), but don’t open the oven door until the you reach 8 degrees less than your desired final degree of doneness!

Rare (cool red)=125* Medium Rare (warm red)=135* Medium (warm pink)=145* Medium Well (slightly pink)=150* Well (no pink)=160+*

5.) Remove the roast from the oven, and transfer to a cutting board/drip tray combo, and tent tightly with aluminum foil. Place in a warm spot in the kitchen and allow to rest at least 30 minutes. Could rest for up to an hour. (Temperature will go up additional 10 degrees and then drop.) Meanwhile, increase oven temperature to highest possible setting (500°F to 550°F). NOTE: The “cook slow, finish high” method will not produce much drippings. The idea is that the juices stay INSIDE the rib roast. If you need to whip us some au jus, always use a meat-first beef base and a little Kitchen Bouquet for color.

This is an opportunity to adjust your timing depending on how things are going with your guests. The rib can rest under the foil for quite a while. Once you complete the next step, you are pretty much committed to serving.

6.) Drain whatever dripping are present into your au jus pan and wipe out roasting pan, return V-rack, and remove foil from prime rib, and place on top of rack with fat cap facing up. 10 minutes before guests are ready to be served, place roast back in the 550 degree oven and cook until well-browned and crisp on the exterior, 6 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, carve, and serve immediately. 

BE WARNEDunless your range hood is vented outside, you will probably experience your smoke alarms raising hell. I usually have somebody standing by to wave the towel, or press the silencer to avoid panicking the guests.

7.) A couple of carving tips: Use a very sharp carving knife. Have a warm, damp towel in case you need to clean the handle as you carve. If you are carving a whole rib, cut in half and carve one half at a time. Work each end of the half, depending on the doneness the guest is requesting. More well done will be on the end, rarer in the middle. Carving sizes will depend on your guests, and the diameter of the prime rib. I try to slice around 8-10 oz. so folks can have seconds, and their plated rib stays hot.

8.) When you serve, have a shallow pan with simmering (not boiling) au jus on the stove to cook up slices that folks want more done. 20 – 30 seconds a side should do it.

LEFTOVERS? Wow, I hope not. If you end up with extra slices that you can’t eat over the next day or so, I have a good way to handle them.

Seal the slices (no more than two 8-12 oz. in a packet) and freeze. I use a vacuum sealer, but a gallon Ziploc bag will work, too. When you are ready for Round 2, completely thaw the slices and transfer from the freezer bag to a fresh Ziploc bag. 

Execute a “poor man’s” sous vide. Fill a medium sized stock pot with warm water (100-120 degrees) and place on low. Place the bag into the water. Squeeze out the air (done by carefully submerging the bag, leaving an open corner out of the water and sealing the zip as the pressure forces the air out). Keeping track of the water temp, slowly warm the bag to a target temp just below the original rib temp (takes maybe an hour or so). Gently flip the bag every 15 minutes to stir the water. My original rib temp was medium rare, so I heat my leftover slices to no more than 128. Because this is like sous vide cooking, it can stay in the water a long time, as long as the water stays at or below the target temp. Don’t overheat the water! If you rush the process, you will trash the meat. Take your time and let the meat come to temp, slowly. This method is better than overcooking slices in the oven or microwave. Done with patience, your leftovers will be as tender and flavorful as they were the first time.