First time ever: Bonnie is going to cook a Standing Rib Roast for Christmas Eve Dinner. We go to Whole Foods on brother-in-law Dick Blide’s advice, and order two weeks before pick-up date, 23 Dec. On that day, I go to pick up roast, and guess what? They can’t find our order! So the kid grabs another one out of the display counter and chops it down to 12.25 lbs. And this comes with no rub, but with Whole Foods sticker shock: $171 price tag. My Christmas Spirit is going fast.
Around 10 am on Christmas Eve morning, we start to work on the roast, which we want to serve for 4 pm. OK, now Bonnie's concerned, because she was serrating the fat and cut two of the six strings that were binding the roast - and you cook the roast with the strings on, yes? Amazingly, Bonnie finds similar string in a kitchen drawer and splices the cut strings.
Time to go to the phones. We contact my USNA ’63 classmate in Florida, Steve Coester. Steve is the expert, and comes back with detailed instructions:
Take roast out of fridge two to four hour before cooking. Preheat oven to 450. Cook twenty minutes and reduce heat to 325. Cook another two or so hours. Use a meat thermometer and don't believe this 140 crap. If you like it pink, remove at 110-120. It will continue to cook after removal. Let sit twenty minutes before carving. There's a zillion different ways to spice/coat the roast. This year I'm just using salt, pepper and mashed garlic.
For your altitude [5600 ft], all I could find is it will take longer. Trust the thermometer!!!!!!!!!!!!! Total time at sea level should be 2 1/4 to 2 3/4 hours for your size roast plus additional time for altitude. I'd start checking the internal temperature at about two hours. Also don't keep opening the oven door to check how pretty it looks. You'd just lose the heat.
In my fifty years of cooking these things I've found out it is pretty hard to screw one up. One year I used bay leaves on it and my son in law Bodie (now deceased) ate one and had a terrible allergic reaction. No bay leaves since!
Our kid at the butcher shop said to cook it for approx. 6 hours! Big difference from Steve, who is saying in the range of 2 1/2 hours. OK, we'll look at the thermometer - Bonnie has one old one that is of type 'stick in the roast' thermometer, but unfortunately she doesn't trust it - I don't know why. She also has a candy thermometer that you apparently wave at the roast. And she has one of her kid's thermometer that may be a rectal one. Don't go there.
Trust the temp, Steve says. But why is the 140 degrees crap? 110 to 120 degrees is OK, so we'll start with that. I understand that a roast will keep cooking for awhile after removal from the oven, but ... is 140 just too much?
And: do you cook it bone side down? Bonnie thinks yes.
Since Bonnie doesn’t trust her meat thermometer, we take up Dick Blide on his offer to loan us his fancy wire thermometer – but his daughter Leslie used it last year, and he doesn’t know how to operate it. Neither do we, and it lists no brand name. It consists of a probe and an LED monitor connected by about 36" of uncoated wire. What? We search the Internet and come up with a similar model by Taylor.
Our first challenge is to convert the screen from degrees Centigrade to degrees Fahrenheit, as we don’t want to be doing conversions throughout the process. The users guide on-line says “press the Menu button” but we have no menu button. Finally, Bonnie thinks to turn the thing over and on the back we find a tiny button that turns out to be labeled C˚ - F˚. I try to move the button from left to right. That don't work. Bonnie pushes it and ... it works! But what about this wire? On-line we find some reassurance:
Q: “Just got a new meat thermometer and have a question. It has a coated wire from the probe to the thermostat. Can I leave the probe in the meat and close the door on the wire or do I have to just spot check the meat. The thermostat has an alarm and can be set to go off at a certain temp. I've always used the old fashioned analog thermometers, so not sure if the wire will burn.”
Answer: “You can close the door on it, they're made to work that way. The wire is tough. Close the door on it, tie it in knots, run over it with the family car. I finally figured mine out, after having it for three years in the drawer, and they're wonderful! Meet your new best friend.”
Now we’re in business. Bonnie adds a rub of salt, pepper, garlic salt, and places roast in oven at noon, at the higher temp of 450˚ F. After about 20 minutes, she drops temp to 350˚ F. It’s entertaining to see the temp rise on the monitor on our thermometer – we don’t have to peer into the oven, we just read this easy LED screen!
The LED screen reads 98˚, then 106˚, still rising. At two hours, it reaches 130˚ F. We take it out to consider where we are, but Bonnie says don’t cut into it, we don’t want the juices to escape. It looks not bad, but Bonnie decides another 30 minutes is good for her family, which is not into rare meat. Back in it goes and the temp climbs on the monitor quickly again. After about 30 minutes, the monitor is at 139˚ F and we take it out, let it sit for 30 minutes and declare victory. Bonnie works on making au jus.
Family arrive and are hungry; I start carving at 4 pm, eschewing the electric carving knife in favor of just a good sharp manual knife. Oh boy, the end cut slices off nicely, and looks great! I keep slicing, and adding the slices to Bonnie's large serving platter. Beautiful! Goes from well done end cut to medium rare in the middle cuts. Plus we get a couple of ribs. Bonnie has produced mashed potatoes, broccoli, salad. Everyone raves! Great dinner! We have a new talent! And Dick Blide says, "Keep the meat thermometer. I'll know where it is if I ever need it." Hurray for Christmas!
Summary: At Albuquerque altitude, after the 20 minutes at 450, go to 350 degrees and maintain until about 140 to 145 on the temp gauge.