Cooking flavorful prime rib and top rounds


What is the best way to cook and season prime rib and top rounds for the most flavorful results?

– Larry Lombardo, President, Bridie Manor Inc, Oswego, NY


The most successful roast beef does not come from culinary creativity but from buying great quality meat, cooking it simply, and, most importantly pulling it from the oven at the right time. A good rule of thumb is to not shock the meat—let it warm to room temperature before putting it in the oven; don’t rush the cooking; let it rest before slicing. In short, be gentle.

But for real specifics I leave it to Bob del Grosso, Chef-Charcutiere at Hendricks Farm and Dairy in Telford, PA, who not only has roast beef down to a science; he knows the science of roast beef:

One: "Dry rub the meat with about 15 grams of medium grain salt and 7.5 grams of sugar per kilogram of meat. Salt makes water more attractive to muscle fiber proteins. So when the meat cooks, it loses less water. Sugar also binds to the water and reduces water loss. Sugar also helps the meat brown. Simple sugars do this better, so if you have dextrose or glucose, use that.

Two: Do one of two things:

  1. Put the rib/ top round in the fridge for 24 hours. Massage at least three times during that period to make sure the cure penetrates evenly; or,
  2. Vacuum the meat in a vacuum bag and let it sit for 12 hours.

Three: When the meat is cured, bring it to an internal temperature of at least 65 degrees. Don't do this in a hot place, but rather at room temperature. The reason is if you put the meat in the oven when it is cold, it can take so long for the inside to come up to temperature that the outside ends up overdone.

Four: If you have a combi-oven, you know what to do next. There is nothing better for roasting big roasts than an oven that allows you to slow cook with low temperature steam to minimize moisture loss and assure the breakdown of connective tissue into gelatin.

If you don't have a combi-oven, then preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Put the meat on a rack set in a pan so that the heat can circulate evenly around the roast. Put the roast in the oven and turn it down to 250 degrees. If the kitchen is screaming hot, remove the roast when the internal temperature is 15 degrees less than you want it to be for service. If the ambient kitchen temperature is not too hot, take it out when the internal temp is about 10 degrees less than you want it to be at service. Let the roast "carry over" (uncovered!) until the internal temp hits service temp (usually 140 degrees).

During this period the meat will also "relax" so that the juices don't blow out when you cut it."

Meat is an expensive ingredient and prices are only getting higher. Roasting with this kind of precision will not only yield tasty meat, but will keep more profit on the plate.

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