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Please advise--grass-fed, -finished whole rib roast

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I rarely (!) make meat at home; however, am roasting a whole grass-fed and -finished "prime" rib (BN) for a dinner party.

In the old days, I always made (corn-fed) standing ribs as follows: garlicked well (tiny slits throughout) 5 lb or under, roasted at 325 F; larger ones at 300. I like quite rare, so about 16 min/lb for big ones, a little more for smaller. Checked w. thermom.

Problem: Neither I nor my mother or grandmother before me ever started roasts in a hot oven. I was happy to learn years ago that it not only was less healthful to use high heat on meat but also shrank the meat. Neither spouse nor I care for that super-browned taste.

If, however, it is essential for some reason to cook a grass-fed roast that way, then I guess I'll have to. I certainly don't want to make my main course for this big-deal dinner party anything less than wonderful!

I also was always taught that salt tends to draw out juices and only flavored outside anyway.

Some recipes I've seen even have one basting the roast, something else unheard of; one of the joys of making rib roast was always that it cooked itself.

I'm hoping to hear from any of you who have experience with this.

My thanks in advance.

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  1. I realize your question is kinda grass-fed cooking vs. corn-fed. I'm not sure there's a whole lot of difference.
    But for ideas, maybe have a look here
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/824994

    1. Disregard what you were taught about salt only flavoring the outside & drawing juices out. Look up the dry brining process. With practically every roast I serve, especially bone in ones, I use multiple tablespoons of kosher salt all over the outside of it, then put it in my cold beer fridge, on a rack, over a sheet pan, uncovered, for a couple of days. Initially, it does draw out some moisture; but the beauty is the chemical reaction that takes place. The salt uncoils the protein molecules, which are normally shaped like tight springs. Then the moisture that was drawn out of the meat is absorbed back in. Then it will start to dry age, as the enzymes start to break down and do their thing. I have never ruined a roast, nor poisoned anyone (Thanks be to God!) nor had a roast that was too salty. What I always end up with is an incredibly well seasoned, beautifully browned & extremely juicy roast. So whether you start with a hot oven or not, it will brown beautifully with no effort on your part. It also cooks a bit faster, so I would check it earlier. And I've also never basted my beef or pork roasts. Inhibits the browning process.

      Also works beautifully on whole birds. But I do baste my large birds like turkey.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

        I do this aging on all roasts now. Works great. Alton Brown had a segment about it, IIRC. I do cover mine with a tea towel and change it once or twice a day. I also add just a touch of garlic power to the salt.

        1. re: travelerjjm

          Oh I bet that's good too. I'll try that next time.

          1. re: travelerjjm

            No need to cover the meat. Just place it on a cooling rack set over a sheet pan and place it on the bottom shelf in the back of your refrigerator.

        2. Personally, I wouldn't stress over the difference in how the meat was finished. I only notice a difference in flavor, not that they cook all that differently. I've only done steaks and relatively small roasts, though, never the beast you're contemplating.

          Whether and how much to salt a roast is a long-standing debate. Some contend, as you note, it dries out the meat. Others argue that even if salt does dry out the meat, the effect is exceedingly mild and outweighed by the other wondrous things salt does. Personally, I liberally salt almost all my meat and poultry and our food is only dry when I overcook it. And I can most definitely tell the difference between meat that is salted before and after cooking.

          Good luck!

          4 Replies
          1. re: eight_inch_pestle

            FWIW, the salt/no-salt debate has pretty conclusively been decided against the culinary rationale typically given for the no-salt position (if, however, it's merely a dislike of salt or a medical reason, those are different).

            1. re: Karl S

              That's funny. I thought it was, too. Then I just happened to be flipping through my River Cottage Meat book and noticed that Fearnley-Whittingstall still buys into it enough to avoid salting smaller cuts (pork tenderloins and such) until the last few minutes of cooking. Maybe he's just not up to speed on this one. And like I said, I never found it convincing anyway. Thanks for the head's up, though---do you have a good link by any chance?

              1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                Harold McGee is a pretty good starting place.

                The issue of no-salting is one of those dogmatic things that, once chefs are trained, they will often stick to their master teachers' ways on that score. IIRC, for example, Julia Child and Jacques Pepin strongly disagreed over it.

                I am more inclined to heed the empirical evidence that someone like Harold McGee, who has an open scientific mind and has no need to honor what he was taught culinarily speaking, tests and observes.

                1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                  The things I do not dry brine are pork tenderloins, boneless skinless chicken breasts and pork chops. Those get wet brined, and I do use kosher salt in it.

            2. This for me has been a fool proof method on cooking a standing rib roast - I use my own rub mixture - http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/pa...

              1. I don't see a reason why this would be *worse* with grass-fed beef as compared to corn-fed/finished beef. Rather, it would be more of an issue with the latter type of meat, because it's fattier and would not render as much.