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Dec 24, 2006 04:44 PM

Low-temp prime rib roasting (Cook's Illustrated recipe etc.)

This is discussed in several topics, since it's such a different method from the usual ~350 degrees I thought I'd start a new one.

In "Best Recipe," the 1999 Cooks Illustrated book, the key elements are:

- bring roast to room temperature
- tie roast
- sear the roast on all sides on the stove
- season with salt and pepper
- roast at 200 degrees F for about 30 minutes a pound
- let stand 20 minutes before carving

Is the 225-degree recipe mentioned in other topics from issues of Cooks Illustrated published after that book?

I'm not going to try this tomorrow, since I don't have a pan big enough to sear the 18-pound six-rib roast I've got. I guess I could broil it, but I don't want to have to start cooking at 8am.

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  1. Forgive me if this is idiotic, but if a person wanted to sear a big roast, could he use a torch?

    6 Replies
    1. re: blue room

      I think the kind of torch you use for creme brulée might just sear the surface. You want to render out some of the fat, get the cap cooked through.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        hmm...a big torch, something Alton Brown would rig up, in a caveman costume! (Just kidding) I'm glad you mentioned "The Best Recipe", I usually just go to that for baking. Now I'm reminded.
        BTW Merry Christmas and thanks for all your valuable/invaluable posts throughout the year.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          You can use the kind of propane torch that you buy at the hardware store for about $20. In fact, if you try it you'll see that it's better for creme brulee than the teeny little torches sold for that purpose. Restaurant kitchens use butane torches.

        2. re: blue room

          A torch would burn the meat before it would create the browning that you seek. There's a lot of chemistry and physics behind it, but basically, a torch is just too hot and cooks too fast. That's how you can tell when a book, magazine, or newspaper is using a bad food stylist: the food will be black where it's supposed to be brown.

          1. re: Big Eater

            I use a torch all the time for big roasts and have never had them burn.

            I hate "char" and always avoid it at all costs. Using a torch works fine.

            1. re: Big Eater

              Not true. A torch works great. You can get a wonderful sear on the surface and you do not burn, or cook the meat. The latter is it's chief benefit in that you can sear the surface without any cooking. Now do you need to run out and buy a torch? No. Searing in a pan works well too.It just takes more care, a little more work and leaves you with a pan to clean,

          2. I have used this method quite successfully without the initial searing. Granted, there is no crisp, browned exterior and the fat remains, but the roast is succulent, juicy, and tender. If the meat is to be sliced in the kitchen, no one is the wiser. Of course, if the whole roast is to be presented at table then carved, it is not as delectable to present a dark beige piece of meat.

            1. Searing and browning the roast is a must for appearance and to kill bacteria on the exterior of the meat. I just checked the New Best Recipes book (2004) and the recommended oven temp is 250 degrees and to remove when the meat is 130 degrees (medium rare).

              6 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I don't see any minutes per pound just internal meat temp. 130 degrees for medium-rare and to rest 20-30 minutes afterwards. The recipe in the book used a 7 pound roast which took 3 - 3.5 hours to reach 130 degrees.

                  I've used this method from Cook's Illustrated several times and was extremely happy with the results.

                  1. re: Chile Head

                    The 1999 edition says 3-1/2 hours at 200F to reach 130F.

                    Maybe they just upped the temperature without retesting and revising the rest of the recipe.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      I have been using 225. IIRC, Jim H (on this site) recommends 200 but my oven drops to 175 when set at 200, I think 175 is too low, so I use 225.

                      Starting with a roast left on the counter for 2-3 hours, it takes ~1 hour per pound to get 130 on the instant read. If I start with a hot oven (450) for 15 minutes, the time decreases to ~45 minutes per pound. I haven't tried pan searing (yet).

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        FWIW, there is a long discussion of roasting temp in the the 2004 edition. It's discusses higher temps and concludes that 250F is the ideal temp and that's the lowest temp they tested. It also mentions that 250F, slow-roast method was used by many "great prime rib restaurants".

                        They have to change something to sell the latest edition... ha!

                        1. re: Chile Head

                          I find a number of recipes online that say after an initial 15 minutes at 450F it'll take about 20 minutes per pound at 250F.

                2. I am an enthusiastic advocate of low temp prime rib roasting.

                  Outside of roast with initial searing:


                  Uniformly rare done to an internal temperature of 140 degrees – tender, juicy, and delicious:


                  7 Replies
                  1. re: CYL

                    That looks incredible!!!
                    Was high oven heat used to sear first, or perhaps a saute pan on the stove top?

                    1. re: ChowFun_derek

                      It was seared under High Temperature easily in my wok with the ventilator on medium.

                      1. re: CYL

                        Ah!...I would never have thought of using my wok!!!
                        Did you oil the ouside of the meat, or actually put a couple of tblspoons of oil in the wok got some incredible carmelization!!
                        And the interior was a rosey blush! All together the most perfect roast for my taste, esthetically and otherwise!

                        1. re: ChowFun_derek

                          less than a minute ago CYL replied

                          The latter, I put some oil in the wok. Though I have the temperature on high and the oil is smoking hot, the searing still does not penetrate too deeply into the roast!

                          1. re: CYL

                            Your technique will DEFINITELY be the way I will do it...perfect char and juicy rare interior!

                      2. re: ChowFun_derek

                        very nice! thanks for the pix and details....

                      3. The 20-minutes-per-pound estimates for initial 450F > roast at 250F seem to have been way too high, looks like my 18-lb. roast's going to be done about three hours early. Recommendations? Reheating would be extremely problematic.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Aha, my oven has a hidden "dehydrating" mode that I can set to 120 degrees. Problem solved. (normally the stupid computer won't accept anything under 170.)

                          For future reference, I put the 18-lb. roast in at 450F, probe read 59F. After 20 minutes reduced the heat to 250F. The probe reached 118F at 3'24". So not counting the initial searing, that was just over ten minutes per pound.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            And, if it's a bit too cool at serving time, make sure the dinner plates are really hot to give the slices meat a couple degrees.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              2009 edition: 22-lb. roast, same method. Probe read 60F before cooking. The new oven apparently runs a bit hot when set to 250F (though it was spot on at 450F), and I had convection on, so it was done in a hair over three hours, or a bit over eight minutes a pound. Fabulous results especially considering next to no effort on my part.

                              Seven-rib dry-aged Niman, additional dry aging by the butcher (Cafe Rouge, Berkeley), fat cap removed, chine bone removed, presalted, fat cap tied back on.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston


                                Did you use a regular oven or did you have a convection feature during roasting? Also, have you ever roasted at the lower temperature of 225*, and if so, do you recall how long the roast spent in the oven? I'm roasting a 22;b seven rib export tomorrow, but it is the first time I will be doing so in an oven with a convection feature.

                                Thanks in advance.