Many holiday traditions include gathering around the dinner table to celebrate with family and friends, sharing a special feast. In this recipe I’ll teach you a few culinary techniques that will intensify the flavors of this beef roast and how to cook it perfectly. I use an English style barleywine to marinate the prime rib in, adding an extra depth of flavor with malty the malty elements of the brew to increase the rich beefy prime rib roast. My personal preference is Anchor Brewing Old Foghorn Barleywine. The resulting Barleywine Marinated Prime Rib will take center stage of your holiday table and be the topic of conversation for years to come.
When purchasing a Prime Rib, talk to your butcher to help find the right size and quality grade that fits your budget. I suggest 3/4 of a pound per person, as the weight of the rib bones and fat cap, will yield a final 1/2 pound of meat to each guest. I do love a USDA Prime, grass fed standing rib roast for this recipe, as the marbling of the fat and meat create a delicious rich and buttery texture to the finish roast. To learn more about how beef is graded, check out this sites page on Meat Science.
The Science of ‘Wet Aging’ VS ‘Dry Aging’:
In this recipe, I share below two different cooking techniques for preparing this standing rib roast. If you have the money, ‘Dry Aging’ will improve the flavor of any prime rib. To be clear, once a cow is slaughtered, the meat is aged before you buy it out of the case of your local butcher | store. Beef is usually aged for several weeks before you purchase it. This time does start what ‘Dry Aging’ and ‘Wet Aging’ continues.
To Dry Age a cut of meat means to let it age in a special temperature and humidity controlled room for usually 21 days and sometimes up to 365 days or a year! These special rooms are fitted with UV lights or have walls of Himalayan salt bricks to help eliminate any airborne bacteria that might spoil the meat as it slowly dries out. The purpose of this Dry Aging process is to intensify the meats flavor by slowly evaporating the moister from the meat, allowing natural enzymes in the meat to break down some of the tougher muscle tissues of time, creating a more tender final cut. The finished meat is then more flavorful, richer in its meatiness, more developed in complexity with an almost nutty | cheesy aroma. The extra cost in Dry Aging is do to the extra time the meat sits (inventory), the equipment needed, along with the space needed, and the moister lose in the meat weight when the steak | roast comes out of the (weeks | months) special meat cooler. As the equipment is expensive and not usually added to a normal home kitchen, doing this Dry Aging at home is pretty difficult to do and worth the extra cost.
‘Wet Aging‘ is similar to ‘Dry Aging‘ the meat as the process intensify the flavors in finished meat. While not aging the meat for weeks | months in special room | cooler, this process | technique can be done at home. With a some refrigerator space and time, the extra investment in the prime rib roast is worth the extra effort. Some chefs | butchers suggest vacuum sealing the meat | roast in bags, allowing the meat to age, as the same enzymes do the work of breaking down the tougher muscle tissues, making them more tender. Not all home cooks have a vacuum sealer, nor one large enough for a whole standing rib roast | prime rib. You could as your Butcher to do this for you, if you wish. My method that I describe below doesn’t require any vacuum sealing, nor special equipment, just time. With approximately 2 – 5 days, the longer the better, evaporation of the meats moisture happens while the natural enzymes to their work, making a tenderer final cut, resulting in more developed flavor than just a prime rib picked up from the butcher | store.
If time and expense does’t allow for Wet Aging or Dry Aging your prime rib | standing rib roast, follow the Option Two method with a just bought prime rib on how to prepare this recipe and still cook a perfect prime rib.
Option One will take at least 2 - 5 days to prepare. The technique of “Wet Aging” is similar to 'Dry Aging' and will help remove some of the moisture in the rib roast, intensifying the flavor of the meat and adding a special touch to the table.
Remove the rib roast from the bag or butcher paper. Wash under cold water, removing any small pieces of fat and liquid that may be present; pat dry with paper towels. Take a roasting pan/rack or open container with a few peeled carrots to allow airflow, set the Prime Rib in the center of the pan. Take a clean dry paper towel and cover the top of the roast and place in the refrigerator (34 - 38°F | 1-3°C). Each day, replace the paper towel with a new one. I suggest "Wet Aging" for a minimum of 2 days and up to 5 days; remove the roast from the refrigerator and continue with the third paragraph in Option Two.
Option Two: Salt Crust & Cooking the Prime Rib
If you do not have the space in your refrigerator or not enough time to “Wet Age” the roast, follow these instructions.
Remove the rib roast from the bag or butcher paper. Wash under cold water, removing any small pieces of fat and liquid that may be present; pat dry with paper towels.
Place the roast in a container large enough to allow the roast to sit flat or use the roasting pan without the rack. Place the roast, fat cap up, bones down and pour the Barleywine over the top. Let rest at room temperature for 2 hours, basting the roast with the beer in the pan every 30 minutes, allowing the meat to absorb the flavor of the barleywine and come to room temperature. This will help season the roast and cook more evenly. Save the barleywine and pour it into a saucepan, setting aside.
Preheat your oven to 250°F | 121°C, convection roast if you have it. Remove the roast from the beer marinade and place onto a rack, in a clean roasting pan. Take the cracked pepper, 2 - 3 tablespoons of salt and rub into the entire roast. Cover the top of the roast with at least ½ inch of Kosher salt, making a crust; any extra salt falling in the bottom of the roasting pan is ok. Insert a probe style thermometer into the center of the roast to help monitor the internal temperature of the meat as it cooks, insuring the perfect doneness. Place in the center of the oven and roast till the internal temperature is 118°F | 47°C, time will depend on the actual size of the roast.
Remove the roast from the oven, letting it rest for 20 minutes.
To Roast and Finish the Prime Rib:
Increase the temperature of the oven to 500°F | 260°C. Scrape off the salt crust and return the roast to the top rack of the oven, for about 7 - 10 minutes, creating a golden brown crust. Remove from the oven, placing on a cutting board, covering in aluminum foil for at least 20 - 30 minutes or until ready to carve. This will help the roast redistribute its juices as the muscle fibers relax.
Alternative Roasting with a Searzall:
Another option to finish off the prime rib, is to use a Searzall Torch Attachment. A Searzall is a stainless steel cone that attaches to the end of a propane or butane torch. It heats up to 1500°F | 815°C and will brown/sear the meat, increasing the maillard reaction and giving the roast a final touch of flavor. Turn on the Searzall and slowly wave it over your roast (after the salt crust has been removed). Work in sections, brown the roast, then move to the next area and repeat. Depending on how close the Searzall is to the meat and how long it isn't moving will increase the speed of the browning. Be careful not to burn the roast.
As the roast is resting, place the sauce pan with the barleywine over medium heat and reduce by two thirds. Add the veal or beef stock and reduce my a quarter. Turn off heat and add whisk in the butter.
Take a sharp carving knife and place it at the exposed bones, parallel to the roast, and follow the blade along the bones until you reach the cutting board, set the bones onto a serving platter. Next, cutting perpendicular to the roast, cut ¼ to ½ inch slices. Arrange the slices on top of the bones and fan. Take the barleywine sauce and drizzle on top of the sliced meat.
While a Searzall might seem unnecessary, I have found many uses for this cooking tool. I do love using this tool, as it's basically a portable broiler and will brown the meat nicely, as it won't be browned do to the low heat cooking and salt crust. Plus the Searzall is great for creating that candy crust over Crème Brûlée, browning marshmallows and so much more.
Check out my other Holiday Feast ideas, menu suggestions and recipes.