Wood Roasted Standing Rib of Beef
Summer along the Maine seacoast means visitors, so I'm frequently faced with a crowd for dinner, usually looking for something cooked outside. Last night we had sixteen. It's wonderful to see everyone and hang with old friends and new, and doing a big standing rib roast like this, a vat of fresh corn-on-the-cob and a big salad of fresh summer produce makes it easy on the cook since almost all the work can be done before guests arrive.
This is a method I've more or less perfected, starting with the temperatures and timings suggested by Alton Brown in a segment he did several years ago on dry-aging (and then roasting) beef. (A particularly over-the-top Alton-as-mad-scientist piece, it included three days of aging in a carefully controlled temperature and humidity environment and a piece of kitchen equipment described as "...a 16-inch round azalea terra cotta planter...." The results are probably spectacular but this procedure exceeded even my tolerance for complication and labor-intensive food. It's still available at the link given above, if you want to try it...) The sauce is adapted from one described in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I.
When I really want to go the traditional route I serve this with Yorkshire Pudding...
Standing Rib Roast
1 standing rib roast, loin end if not using the whole roast, bone-in
(the conventional wisdom is 1 bone for every two diners, but I find this is too vague - about 8 - 10 ounces trimmed weight per diner should be more than adequate....last night we had a seven-bone roast which weighed about 15 pounds when cooking started and we needed only about 60% of it, or 9 ounces per person...not that there's anything wrong with leftover roast beef!)
1/2 tsp coarse salt per pound of meat
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper per pound
1 tsp minced herbs per pound (I favor thyme, flatleaf parsley, sage and rosemary)
oil sufficient to coat the surface of the roast
Remove Rub the roast all over with the oil. Mix the salt, pepper and herbs and rub over the surface of the meat.
Roast the meat at about 200º to an internal temperature of 118º. I do this over a charcoal / hardwood fire, which imparts a satisfying smokiness to the finished product, but the results are almost as good if you use an oven. (See Grill Basics for equipment and procedure for roasting over live fire.) This usually takes about 3 to 3-1/2 hours, although smaller roasts will require less time. Leave yourself some leeway on the timing and watch the temperature carefully.
Remove roast from heat, insert the thermometer probe to the center of the meat and wrap roast in aluminum foil. Allow to stand until the internal temperature reaches 130º. At this point, if you want to wait a while before finishing the roast, open the aluminum foil to allow air to circulate around it, which will more or less stop the cooking. Keep the probe in place and don't let the temperature fall below about 128º.
To finish, place the roast on an open rack in a 500º oven for about 20 minutes, or until the desired crust has developed. Watch carefully during this process as burning can occur rather quickly at this temperature.
Serves 12 - 16
2 T shallots, minced
1-1/2 cups hearty red wine
1 cup meat juices from the roast (collected from the pan after the foil-wrapped resting period)
4 T minced herbs (chives, flatleaf parsley, sage, thyme suggested)
8 oz. butter
Sauté the shallots in one tablespoon of the butter slowly, about 6 or 7 minutes, until translucent. Add the wine and meat juices and reduce until thick and syrupy. Off heat, stir in the remaining butter one tablespoon at a time. Stir in the minced herbs and serve immediately.
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