The secrets to cooking and carving perfect rib roasts

12/10/2013 11:04 AM

12/10/2013 12:00 PM

With Christmas fast approaching, most of your questions concern how to select or prepare that perfect beef roast.

Q: What is the difference between prime rib, standing rib roast and rib roast? It is all very confusing.

A: A standing rib roast has long been referred to as prime rib even though nowadays it may not actually be of prime grade beef. A standing rib roast indicates the rib bones are present and the roast can “stand” by itself. A rib roast is the same cut of meat but the rib bones have been removed; it is sometimes called a boneless rib roast.

Q: What is the most important thing to do when roasting a large expensive roast such as a rib roast or beef tenderloin? I am fearful of ruining it after spending a small fortune on the meat.

A: When I schedule the Meat Cooking 101 class, I always invite Joe Linot of Cargill, a local meat expert, to teach that particular class. He is an excellent instructor and a wealth of knowledge when it comes to meat. His advice – and I agree wholeheartedly – is to buy a good meat thermometer and use it. Cooking a rib roast or tenderloin to the proper temperature will render a juicy, flavorful and rosy slice of roast. Next, he emphasizes the importance of allowing adequate standing time after the meat is removed from the oven. This does two things – the meat continues to rise in temperature and the resting time allows the juices to redistribute within the roast, keeping the juice in the meat instead of escaping out on the plate.

Q: What kind of thermometer should I use for roasting meat. Can the same thermometer be used for making candy?

A: For most meat cookery, my favorite is a probe thermometer. It has a probe that is inserted into the thickest part of the meat, being careful not to touch bone or the bottom of the pan. The desired temperature can be programmed into the thermometer and it has an alarm that will ring with the temperature is reached. The advantage is that you don’t need to open the oven door to check the temperature of the roast.

Another type is also very good and it is the instant-read thermometer. Near the end of the roasting time, you will need to check the temperature from time to time to until it has reached the desired temperature. As the name implies, it gives an instant reading, is easy to use and will give you an accurate measure of temperature.

You will need a different kind of thermometer for making candy. A candy thermometer clips on the side of the pan and has a higher temperature scale as candy can reach very high temperatures as water is evaporated from the mixture. Some thermometers are a combination candy/deep fat thermometers and can be used for both candy making and deep fat frying

Q: I like a standing rib roast but find I will opt for the boneless rib roast because I don’t like messing around with trying to carve around the bones. Do you have any tips for carving neat slices when cooking a the roast the ribs intact?

A: You are right – the bones do add lots of flavor to the roast but carving can be a bit more daunting. The meat department of our local supermarkets will remove the rib bones for you, but then put them back in place and tie the roast for you. In essence, you will then roast the beef with the ribs. When it is time to serve it, remove the string and rib bones, and carve the roast into beautiful slices.

Q: What kind of knife do you use to slice a roast into nice slices? I have tried every knife I own, but my gorgeous roast looks like a ragged piece of meat on the plate.

A: I use a special knife that consistently makes smooth slices. It has a long, thin blade and I keep it very sharp and use it primarily for slicing. The manufacturer calls it a filet knife; but for me, it is the best knife for slicing I have ever used for making smooth slices of roast, turkey breast, ham and other meats.

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