The Holidays and Prime Rib
I love prime rib and Yorkshire pudding as you'll see by this column. As a young boy we went to my great grandmother's for Christmas. She had a farmhouse in the country, no indoor plumbing (she did have electricity and a phone) and a wood stove. Grammy Davol's family was from Lincolnshire, England and every Christmas she prepared a standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding. She truly felt that to be able to have a rib roast for her family at Christmas was the only gift she ever needed. My job on Christmas was to pump the water and carry the wood for the fire. I always complained about not being able to play, but it was Christmas and I knew I should be thankful I did not get coal in my stocking. Grammy believed the fire needed tending to make that roast perfect. The fat would crackle as that old wood stove cooked the roast. Just before it was finished cooking she would take the pudding batter and pour it all around the meat. Like magic the pudding would rise and form a base for the roast to stand on. It was so good that after Grammy died no one dared roast the beef. We had goose and ham after that for Christmas.
As I trained to become a chef, my favorite job was the two years I spent as a roast and broiler cook for RockResorts. Every day I would roast 12-15 prime ribs and make 240 Yorkshire popovers. I also roasted the turkeys, hams, lambs, ducks and geese, and in the evening would cook to order several hundred steaks. My pride and joy was roasting the ribs to the perfect color and getting the popovers to rise and pop with a golden hole in the middle. In fact, my first real break in the industry occurred because Chef Alfred Fahndrich liked to pick up my popovers just out of the oven and dip them in just made au jus sauce. Being Swiss, compliments were not a part of his daily routine, but as he said, "I have to say the Yorkshire are pretty good." He would then grin and ask me for another. Chef Fahndrich always carved the beef for banquets whether we had 50 or 500 people and he regularly told me, "You made a good roast, Mandabach." The first two years I worked for him, these were the only compliments I ever heard him give anyone. I later found he really had a heart of gold and his severe manner was just his way. The next spring he sent me to Palm Springs to cook for several big parties at Lawrence Welk Resort, but that is another story.
My late friend Ed Dlouy was a great butcher and taught me a lot about meat. He explained to me the fact the primal beef rib consists of ribs 6 through 12 and some of the backbone. Usually the rib is covered with a fat cap that a smart butcher has removed. Prime rib is not named for the grade of beef but for the fact that it consists of the majority of the primal cut. The eye meat of the rib is the central muscle portion, is not a well-exercised muscle and thus is tender. The prime rib also contains quite a bit of marbling that also adds flavor. It is in the front quarter of the beef following the chuck. The best end of the roast is the short end, which connects to the short loin. The chuck half of the roast has more fat and less meat. Most people prefer the short roast. I like it all and actually enjoy the chuck end because it has more flavors.
The highest quality prime rib is the prime grade. Most markets can provide you with choice grade prime rib if you request it. All of the local supermarkets offer select grade and most have the short end roasts on sale. I love a good quality prime grade prime rib, but have been pleasantly surprised by the select grades purchased for me to cook by friends at Sam's, Walmart or Lowe's. The key is not to overcook by using a meat thermometer. I have listed a recipe for whole roast. Reduce cooking times by weight to 20 to 25 minutes per pound, 15 to 18 minutes boneless.
Here are some recipes:
Roasted Prime Rib of Beef with au Jus
1 each 12 to 16 pound standing rib roast (if boneless reduce cooking times by 50 percent)
The higher quality primegrade may be larger.
1 cup kosher salt.
1/4 cup cracked pepper.
Mirepoix (chopped carrots, celery, and onion with bay leaf)
Beef or veal stock 1 14-16 oz can
Rub roast all over with salt and pepper.
Place in heavy-duty roastpan bone up and let sit at room temperature for 1/2 hour.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Put roast in oven for 1/2 hour.
Lower the oven to 350 degrees and cook for two hours.
Turn the rib over and check temperature.
When roast reaches 100 degrees (usually at least 2 1/2) place mirepoix vegetables in pan.
Remove from oven at 115 degrees for rare, 125 for medium- 135 for medium well and 145 for well done (it will cook at least 10 degrees more while the roast rests.
Let the roast sit at room temperature do not cover.
Pour off the oil (reserve for popovers) and add the beef stock.
Let the stock reduce by 1/4 and strain. Remove grease from stock by dropping an ice cube in the au jus and skimming grease.
Reserve grease for use in Yorkshire.
Wait at least 30 minutes until carving.
Carve in the same direction as the bones.
Yield 20 servings.
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of pepper
Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
2 cups milk
When roast is finished turn oven to 425 degrees.
- Sift together flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg in bowl and form a well.
- Fold just beaten eggs into flour to form a paste.
- Beat in milk and cover. Let sit at least one hour (some say longer)
- Place muffin-popover or Yorkshire pudding pan on edged cookie sheet.
- Ladle drippings and oil as needed to coat the pan at least 1/4 inch deep.
- Put the pan and the drippings and or oil in the oven until oil is smoking hot. It is critical that the pan be smoking and to leave at least 4 inches above the pan for the popovers to rise.
- When smoking remove the pans and quickly pour the batter to the top of the muffin cups.
- Quickly put in 425 degree oven and cook for 20-25 minutes until well risen and whatever you do, don't open the door or slam the door.
- Turn oven down to 325 and wait another 30 minutes or until they have will hold the shape.
- Serve on the side of your delicious rib roast, goose or duck.
Have plenty of au jus or gravy to dip the popover in.
If they fall they still taste great.
Gramma sometimes put cooked sausage in the mix to make a toad in the hole.
Pouring the batter in the roast pan made the original Yorkshire pudding.
The pudding then was cooked around the roast. Martha Stewart makes her Yorkshire
Pudding with a similarbatter poured in roast pan into hot oil after the au jus is made.
It will only have to cook 25 minutes and will not hold its shape.
Written by Keith H. Mandabach, an associate professor of Hotel and Restaurant Management.