I think my Dad is a bit of a drama queen. He likes the drama of a stunner main course that takes your breath away and gets your friends talking. He is the guy that deep-fries the turkey at Thanksgiving. He is the guy that makes a viking ship out of a watermelon, complete with apple swans, you know, just for the extra touch.
I think I might have learned from him how fun it can be to impress people with food. And possibly the adrenaline rush you get when you’ve actually pulled something off. I don’t think I’ll ever make a viking ship out of a watermelon, but I wouldn’t put it past me to deep fry a turkey. I’m already well on my way to being my own little Foodie Drama Queen. The week after Christmas I was at the store, and on a whim I bought a prime rib roast. I have never cooked a prime rib roast. I like it, sure, but never even thought about cooking one. I confess, it was on sale. It was my shiny pair of red shoes, half off, designer brand. I had to have it. Before I even knew what was happening I was home with it, showing my boyfriend my amazing thrifty purchase when he said “So you gonna cook it for dinner?” Gulp. I thought it might live in the freezer for awhile- at least until I did more research and read about 10,000 recipes, comparing notes. Easter sounded like a better bet. He convinced me, and so I called the only person who knew about this sort of thing. Dad.
He has done prime rib at Christmas many times, but of course, he puts his own Drama Dad stamp on it. He covers it in salt. This may not sound like much drama, but when you take away one of the main senses I rely on to tell if I’m cooking something right (my eyesight) because the thing is covered in a 1/4 inch thick layer of pure white, you will be holdin’ your breath alright when you finally take it out of the oven and crack that sucker open. I was more worried then a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
Dad’s instructions weren’t too hard to follow:
This was for a 7-8 lb. bone in, prime rib roast that already came tied from the store.
1.Cover the bottom of a roasting pan with rock salt (ice cream salt, Drama Dad calls it.) Preheat your oven with a rack in the bottom third to 450F.
Place your roast on this bed of salt, drizzle with olive oil all over, then add seasonings. I used dried rosemary, thyme, dried chives, marjoram, salt and pepper, and garlic from the jar.
2. Put it in the oven uncovered, for about 20 minutes. This sears the meat for you.
3. Take it out and turn your oven down to 300. Then, in a large bowl, put an ENTIRE box kosher salt (DD says, best to have 2 boxes on hand, just in case. In fact, I ended up using about a box and 1/2). Moisten the salt with water, until you can take a handful, squeeze it in your hand and it sticks in a little knuckle shaped bar, like wet chunky white sand. I think it looks like gleaming slushy snow.
4. Proceed to cover the entire roast in this sticky salt stuff. Dad recommended I “build a foil gate, so that the salt is held onto the roast” this proved easier said then done. It took some finessing with foil and salt errosion before I figured it out (should have known, coming the man who once spent his weekend creating a sea worthy craft out of a fruit!) But in the end he was right- it did help.
Once you have it all covered, about 1/4 of an inch thick, stick a meat thermometer in it (I recommend the digital kind) and cook it at 300 until it reaches 125-128 (rare to med. rare) I cooked it to 128, then took it out and let it rest for a good 1/2 hour (it will keep cooking, but also, the juices will redistribute and it will stay delicious this way).
Then, if you dare, break into the salty crust to make the dramatic reveal…
Frankie was totally impressed.
The real drama is when you cut into it. And this one took my breath away. It was exactly how we wanted it. Of course, to some of you this make look bloody and disgusting, and you may want to cook yours to 130 or even 135. But then, why even go to all the trouble? You might as well over cook a NY Strip and call it good (the best part about being the drama queen is that you have license to say catty things).
This comes out with a fabulous crust. The best part, is the salty herby end piece. That one’s for the cook. I learned that from Dad too.
If you are looking for a full meal, try mashed garlic potatoes, and a salad something. It doesn’t really matter what the sides are, everyone will want seconds on meat.
Embracing your inner drama queen, AND eating juicy red meat? What could be better? Actually, the sandwiches we had the next day were a close second.