|'Prime' is the solid gold watch of the beef world. It's beautifully formed and heavily marbled. You notice there's not a lot of fat around the meat but there's a good bit inside the meat. That means it's going to melt in your mouth when it's cooked. Unfortunately there's not a lot of prime out there so you're going to be hard pressed to find it outside of a top steak house or a specialty butcher shop. Personally, I'm more than happy to cook and consume a piece of prime beef as long as somebody else is paying for it.||
|One notch down is 'choice' beef. It's kind of like the watch you wear to work and to the occasional wedding. There's not as much intramuscular fat—there's a little more around the outer mass—but there's plenty of beef flavor here and a relatively high meat-to-bone ratio. When I'm buying, I usually buy choice.||
|The next down is 'select'. 'Select' is kind of like, you know, that watch you keep in your desk at work when you leave your real watch at home. There's a good bit of bone, a good bit of connective tissue and it's kind of chewy. The truth is most butchers don't even deal with this stuff except as stew meat. It makes great stew because a lot of connective tissue.||
When it comes to roast, I'll take that [choice] one.
CC: That's a great piece of meat, Mr. B., but I'd suggest this one.
AB: What's the deal? They're, they're, they're both rib roasts?
CC: It's off of the same rib cut, but this comes from the loin end.
AB: What difference does that make?
CC: It's got one, less connective tissue and also has less bone mass in there as well. So pound for pound, dollar for dollar, you're getting more meat.
AB: So let me get this straight. Same cut, better value, less money.
CC: That's correct.
AB: I'll take 4 bones worth.
Ha, ha, ha. Another great reason for having your own personal butcher. Of course when you're buying beef these days, you're going to run into some other terms you're going to be curious about: all-natural, certified organic, um, hormone-free for instance. Want to find out more about those? Check out foodtv.com.
AB: Chris, thanks for setting me up, man. Just put this one my tab, okay? [begins to leave]
CC: Um, Mr. B. I'm going to need some cash.
[sighs] Oh bother.
Like balsamic vinegar and hard cheese, beef improves with age. That's because like vinegar and cheese, beef is mostly water.
In fact, about eight and a half pounds of this ten and a half pound roast is indeed H2O, a substance not famous for its flavor.
However, in just a few days we can eliminate enough of that water to seriously intensify the flavor of the meat. This is going to take time.
But that's okay, because meanwhile, enzymes inside the meat will be hard at work breaking down connective tissue, and that means a more tender
piece of meat.
Of course, um, there's a not so wide line between aging and rotting. So we have to observe some guidelines. We need a temperature between 36 and 38 degrees, humidity around 50 percent, and plenty of air circulation. Sounds like a job for your friendly neighborhood chill chest. Now you could leave the roast just hanging around on a plate, but we are talking about raw meat here. That's why I cover mine with this prolifically perforated plastic bin. The holes promote air flow while the meat's juices are safely sequestered. Now just put this as far back and down in your fridge as possible. How long? Well as little as 24 hours would make a difference, but for a 10 pounder like this, 72 would be a lot better. Oh, you do have one of these [refrigerator thermometers] don't you?
Three days later and, uh, the meat definitely looks dry on the outside. How dry is it really? Well, wow. Nine pounds. That's
a loss of something like 12.7 percent. That means the meat's going to taste that much more intense and be that much more tender.
Now if you've aged more than a couple of days you might notice some little leathery spots on the meat. That's okay. Just
trim them off, making the cuts as shallow as possible. You may also notice a slightly funky aroma. That's okay. The smell of success.
Now just cover and leave on the counter for an hour. By starting with a room temperature roast there's going to be less of a differential between the oven and the inner core of the meat. And that is going to help the roast to cook more evenly throughout. Also gives us time to consider the cooking apparatus itself.
Top steak houses may dry age beef for up to 4 months.
To illustrate how utterly elementary roasting a great roast is, I've opted to roast my roast here, in my brother's oven. Now
don't worry. He's not going to miss it. He's at an orthodontist convention in Vegas. Besides I'm not sure he'd miss it even if he was here. Now
do we brave a look inside? I'm afraid we must.
[finds a mixer in the oven] Hey, I'd figured that mixer for a goner. You know, uh, most of us—certainly my brother—take this space for granted, even abuse it a little. And that's bad because when it comes to ovens, cleanliness is next to hot-liness.
Now let's say for just a minute that this [racquetball court] is the interior of a really clean oven. Okay now depending on
whether you own gas or electric, when you turn that thermostat to bake, one of two things is going to happen. Either an electric coil located
right along the floor is going to start glowing red or a gas burner located just under the floor is going to fire. Either way the air near the
floor is going to absorb heat, expand, and go up [throws red ball up in the air] to your food. There it's going to give up some of its heat and
return [a blue ball falls back down] a little bit cooler thus setting up a convection current which, if you have a convection oven, is going to
be enhanced by an electric fan. But, there's something else going on here, too.
Infrared waves are being emitted, either by the coil or the oven floor itself. Now these waves are going to ricochet all around the oven and given time they're going to hit your food from just about every angle. Just even the nooks and crannies of this chicken. Now since there's a pan protecting your food from direct thermal onslaught this is a relatively mild cooking method. I mean this doesn't carry the kind of energy womp as 350 degree oil. Therein lies the essence of roasting: even, omni-directional heat. But what happens if your oven walls are all scummed up?
[black drapes fall across the court walls] Now the energy meant for your roast is being either deflected by or absorbed by the grunge on your oven walls. Now that's not to say that your beast isn't going to take a few hits here and there. But believe me, in the end it's going to end up being done on one side and underdone on the other.
Well there's no way my roast is going to get a fair trial in here. I could take the time to run it through, maybe, 3 or 4
self-cleaning cycles. But I can also find an intermediary structure. Excuse me for a moment. Now if I remember correctly the original Dutch
ovens were made of brick, not cast iron. And that makes sense because nothing heats as evenly as ceramic.
Now this terracotta planter borrowed from a neighbor is going to soak up whatever heat this thermo geezer can generate and then radiate it evenly to the roast. Now to avoid thermal shock, we're going to start this in a cold oven. Oh, and since we're going to want to make a pan sauce we're going to need another vessel that will fit inside, just big enough to hold the roast. Now we will bring this up to heat but remember, never, ever trust an oven. [places thermometer inside]
Most reliable roast recipes suggest a two-tiered cooking approach. First you sear the meat over high heat in order to create a golden brown and delicious crust. Then you drop the temperature so that the roast can finish low and slow. Now this is a fine philosophy and yet fatally flawed because the higher the heat involved the more proteins in the meat are damaged therefore the more juices lost. So if we give it all this high heat at the very beginning, we're going to have more juice lost through the cooking process. So I say flip it. We're going to start the roast at a balmy 200 degrees until it reaches a certain internal temp then we'll put the spurs to it. In the meantime we'll take a little time to prep and maybe check on the fire extinguisher.
Good beef, appropriately aged, needs very help in the flavor department. Rub down with a canola oil, a few grinds of black pepper, and a little kosher salt is all we need. Now aside from seasoning, the salt will actually coax protein-rich liquids to the surface of the meat and that will aid in crust creation later on.
Once upon a time, doneness was believed to be a factor of weight, time and oven temperature. See. [opens lid of range to revel
a cooking chart] Beef, 20 minutes per pound at 300 degrees. This led to many a discouraged cook and disappointed diner because this formula cannot
factor in the most critical piece of information in meat cookery: the shape of the meat to be cooked. And since that's a rather fuzzy piece of
logic, I think we're going to have to skip the time thing all together.
Truth is, the only way to know what's going on in your meat is to take its temperature. Now there are a lot of different meat thermometers to choose from but I like the probe style that can stay inside the meat throughout the cooking process. I like knowing what's going on. Positioning the probe is crucial. Just set the probe right in dead center and drive it down into center mass. But just make sure you don't hit any bones. [checks thermometer insertion] Perfect.
Well what do you know. 210. I'll buy that. Now the rig comes out, the lid comes off, the roast goes in—watch out for the probe—the lid goes back on, the rig goes in the oven and of course so does the thermometer just so you can keep a check on things.
How's a 10 pound roast like a scrambled egg? Well if they're both done when they come out of the pan, they'll be overdone by the time they hit the plate. That's because food doesn't stop cooking just because you turn off the heat. There's such a thing as carry over heat and the greater the mass, the more the temperature is going to rise post oven.
Carry Over Heat
Now as far as I'm concerned, there's only one temperature for a rib roast, that narrow range of joy in between 127 and about 132 degrees Fahrenheit called medium rare. Now I'm going to count on about 10 to 12 degrees of carry over so I'm going to set the alarm on my thermometer to go off at 118 degrees. Now how long is this going to take? Well that depends on the roast.
Medium Rare 128°-135°
Toast 146° and up
[beeper goes off] It seems we have arrived at our first thermal destination, 118 degrees. Now let's just
take a look at what's happened inside. Now be careful when you open this because there's going to be some steam, right? Open it away from you.
Well, gee. Nice but kind of pallid. That's okay. It's only mostly cooked at this point. Still, we're going to give this a rest. Just take it
straight up to a, to a cooling rack or a cutting board, whatever, and then cover it with foil. We don't want to pull out that probe so just cut
the foil [beeper goes off again] to go around it. Be sure and turn off your alarm. There. Now how long to let this rest? Well, until this stops
going up. It should be just enough time to go to our next thermal destination which is 500 degrees. And, uh, I can only hope that
-Bang here [the oven] can make it.
Time to get crusty. Now we may not really care about the internal temperature on this roast anymore. After all, it is thoroughly rested. But we do have an issue which is if we pull out this big metal probe and put this roast in the oven, it's going to spout like a whale. So just leave that where it is but you don't have to plug this up anymore.
Now let's check on the oven. Say, 505 degrees. Who thought the ole guy had it in him? Now let's get this out as quickly as we can, carefully. We don't want to waste any of that energy. Now always open away. Slide that roast right back into place. There's going to be some sizzling. That's all right. Make sure you're centered up. Lid goes back on. And carefully back in. There we go.
Now we may not care about temperature any more, but we do care about time at this point. I'm figuring about 15 minutes, uh, between us and crust. Go beyond that and, uh, you're probably talking toast, another thing all together. [sets timer]
[timer goes off] Here we go. Now that is what I call crusty. As beautiful as sight as that is, though, there is another one waiting for us. Now first we've got to move this to a cutting board and just cover with the very, very same piece of foil still leaving that little probe in there for now.
And looky what we've got. That's what the French call fond. It basically means instant sauce. All we have to do is add water to liberate it. But the first step to making a sauce out of this is to get rid of at least some of the grease that's accumulated in there. Whatever you do, do not throw this grease away because it is really great for making Yorkshire pudding but that's, that's another show. Ooo. Don't want to waste that. Now put this [pan] back on to high heat and, uh, as long as you've got cook top-proof bakeware, this isn't going to hurt anything. You can do it in metal if you've got a metal pan that fits. But glass is fine, too.
Now in order to turn this into a sauce, we've got to deglaze these bits, dissolve them, and then basically any type of water type liquid will do. In fact, there's nothing quite like water to do the job so pour in one cup's worth. Of course, as wonderful a solvent as water is, it's not really famous for bringing a lot of flavor to the party. So I also like to add a cup of red wine. Now as this comes to a boil, just scrape it. I like to use a wooden spatula. We're really going to scrape those bits off the bottom of the pan.
1 Cup H2O
1 Cup Red Wine
Now a lot of folks like to use just wine for this. But I really do think when it reduces down it's way, way too strong. So just keep scraping until you feel nothing but smooth glass then reduce this by half.
When your sauce is down by half, time for a quick herbal addition. Sage is what I like and no I don't want to chop it up because I just don't want to half to fish out all of those little spent green bits later. Three or four leaves will do. Just give it a good bruise and toss it in. Let that cook for another 60 seconds, not a second longer, then strain and serve. Oh, we've got meat to cut.
3 - 4 Sage Leaves, Bruised
For a thicker sauce, stir a couple of pats of
butter into the hot liquid just before serving.
Whenever carving time comes around, I reach for electric. And this is why. [carves the bones off and then cuts each of the 4 bones into separate pieces] These are for later, as in for me.
|Now we've basically got a big, boneless roast and I like to take off this big hunk of fat right here. This is why the dogs all love me. Now we're basically facing a big, rib-eye roast. Start slicing from the end and make sure you don't go less than a half inch. Now would a good time for review.||
Semi-skilled professional in a real kitchen ... do try this at home ... but be careful won't you?
|Remember, when it comes to a great roast, where and what you buy matters a lot more than where you roast it. So talk to your butcher. If you don't have a butcher, well find one. Soon.||
Talk with your butcher before making any roast purchases
|Dry age your beef in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 days.||
Dry age your beef in the fridge for 2 - 4 days
|Bring it to room temperature. Season it simply but thoroughly.||
Bring meat to room temperature before roasting
Season simply but thoroughly
|Roast it in a clean oven or a vessel that promotes even heating at 200 degrees or until it reaches an internal temperature of 118.||
Roast it in a clean oven, or a clean intermediary structure
118° internal temp.
|Then give it a rest. And then blast it at 500 for another 15 minutes or until crusty on the outside.||
Give it a rest
500° for 15 mins.
|Then deglaze and prepare to amaze.||
Deglaze pan and build sauce
Mmmm. Now I know that standing rib roast is technically a special-occasion kind of food. But, hey, who's to say what qualifies as a special occasion. I mean, uh, maybe your new sweepstakes entry came in the mail today or maybe the nice lady who reads the meter dropped by or maybe it's Wednesday or maybe ... [phone rings] Excuse me. [notes Caller ID] Or maybe your brother comes home from Las Vegas.
AB: Hey how was the convention? ...
You're kidding? They broke in?
See you next time on Good Eats.
AB: I hope they didn't take anything important.
Oh no. That's just freaking me.
Say, they didn't happen to get my, uh, mixer did they?
No. Hmm. I just ... Never mind. No. I'm having a TV dinner.
Nah. No special occasion. [laughs knowingly]
You wouldn't like it.
Proof Reading Help from Sue Libretti
Last Edited on 08/27/2010