Perfect Roast Beef

Prime rib, cooked so there’s a slice just right for everyone.
TIME 1½ hours, mostly unattended
MAKES 6 to 8 servings
1 bone-in beef rib roast (5 to 6 pounds)
2 garlic cloves, optional
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups beef or chicken stock, red wine, or water

1 Remove the meat from the fridge an hour before you want to cook it so it comes to room temperature.

2 Heat the oven to 450°F. Put the meat, bone side down, in a roasting pan. If you’re using garlic, cut the cloves into slivers; use a paring knife to poke small holes in the meat and insert the garlic into them. Sprinkle the roast generously with salt and pepper.

3 Put the roast in the oven and cook, undisturbed, for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350°F and continue to roast for 1 hour. Spot check the meat by inserting a quickread thermometer in several places. You want readings 5 to 10 degrees below your desired final temperature (so 125°F for medium rare). Check every 5 minutes. But in no case let the temperature of the meat go above 155°F.

4 Take the pan out of the oven. Carefully transfer the meat to a platter with two forks to rest. Pour off all but a few tablespoons of the fat from the pan and put the pan on 2 burners over medium-high heat. Add the stock and cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the liquid is reduced by half, 5 to 10 minutes.

5 Put the meat on a cutting board and pour any accumulated juices from the platter into the sauce. Cut the meat free from the bone, then slice it crosswise into thick or thin slices. To serve, splash a little of the sauce on the meat and pass the rest at the table.

  • Perfect, Less Expensive Roast Beef: Instead of prime rib, get a boneless rump roast that weighs 4 to 5 pounds. Follow the recipe through Step 2. In Step 3, start checking it after 40 minutes.

  • For a really crisp exterior, turn the heat back to 450°F for a few minutes right at the end of cooking; this won’t affect the internal temperature too much but will give you a nice crust.
  • Especially with an expensive cut like this, it’s better to check early and often— than to risk overcooking. If you don’t have a thermometer, make a small incision on the side somewhere and peek inside. Bright red juices are another clue that the meat inside is rare.
  • While the roast is in the oven, cook up a batch of roasted potatoes, steam a load of asparagus, and you have a fancy meal with hardly any fuss.

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