There are many cuts of beef suitable for roasting but rib is the undisputed king of them all. Cooked on the bone, the flavour is meaty and deeply savoury; thanks to the layers of fat and fine marbling within. The bone is easily removed for carving so need not be viewed as an obstacle; it does act as insulation however and greatly improves the texture of the meat.
A rib roast is a special roast. An assertion based not purely on cost, the flavour and finesse of fine roast beef is something to be savoured not taken for granted. Cooked with respect and care, and served with all the trimmings, this is the beef of storybooks; the great Sunday roast of the British table.
You will get plenty of leftovers from a decent piece of rib; let’s face it, this is a great hunk of meat. Like rib eye steak, this is a difficult cut to ruin despite its grand appearance. As long as you pay attention to a few simple instructions, and don’t cook it past medium rare, it will pretty much take care of itself. So, here we go. How to cook roast beef.
Step 1 – delivery and storage
When the beef arrives keep it in the packaging and store it in the fridge. The night before you want to cook, remove all the packaging and pat the meat dry with kitchen paper. Keep it standing upright and leave it, uncovered, in the fridge overnight. Remove from the fridge well before cooking time so that it reaches room temperature before going in the heat.
Step 2 – calculate cooking times
Make a note of the weight of the beef rib, or weigh it. Calculate your cooking times as follows. Use a meat thermometer for increased accuracy if you wish, but you will still need to know the timings. These timings are for cooking from room temperature and are available as a printable sheet directly from the beef rib roast product page.
An initial 20 minutes at 220C/Gas 7 PLUS
15 minutes per 500g at 190C/Gas 5 for rare
20 minutes per 500g at 190C/Gas 5 for medium
25 minutes per 500g at 190C/Gas 5 for well done
Take note that roast beef really is at its best when rare or medium. Medium roast beef will be pink at the centre but will also be fully cooked around the edges; this way there is usually something to please all comers. We have a post coming up on the delights of rare roast beef; you may find that you are pleasantly surprised if you give it another go.
Internal temperatures are as follows.
50C for rare
60C for medium
70C for well
Step 3 – pre heat the oven
An important step to mention. The oven needs to be hot enough to give the meat its initial sizzle that will brown the outside so do not forget to preheat to 220C/Gas 7 (10C lower for a fan oven).
Step 4 – the mustard rub
Rub the surface of the fat all over with dry mustard powder; it creates a lovely savoury edge and crisp yet melting texture to the fatty crust. Because roast beef rib is all about that fatty crust; if you want a leaner cut then go for a sirloin roast.
Step 5 – into the oven
A standing rib roast does exactly that; it stands on its edge. This insulates the meat and protects it from the direct heat of the pan; the same reason that you would create a trivet of bones or vegetables for a roast that isn’t able to stand up on its own. This makes it pretty tall, so you will most likely want only the bottom shelf in the oven. Into the oven on its roasting tin and 20 minutes at the higher heat. You may want to open a window.
Step 6 – turn it down
Once the initial sizzle is over, turn the oven down to 190C/Gas 5 (reducing by 10C if you have a fan oven). Cook the beef for the rest of the calculated cooking time. A big joint, it can be difficult to judge the doneness exactly. That said, cooking times can vary for all sorts of reasons. If the joint seems to darken too far or even burn, then turn the oven down; chances are the internal thermostat is not completely accurate. Medium/rare roast beef will still have a fair bit of spring in the flesh if you prod it. Insert a skewer deep into the centre and look at the colour of the juice that runs out; the redder it is, the rarer the meat. The meat will also cook a little further and even out as it rests with the residual temperature. The best way to get it perfect is with practice and understanding. Follow your cooking times to within 15 minutes either side and then take it from there.
Step 7 – the rest
Resting time is hugely important with roast beef. It allows the juices to run back into the meat and the muscle fibres to relax. It also gives you time to concentrate on getting the rest of the meal ready. Remove the roast beef from the oven and set aside for up to half an hour before carving. Try to resist the temptation to carve little bits of the edge whilst you are waiting.
And that’s it. The perfect roast beef for the perfect Sunday lunch.