RE: Prime Rib
I was actually kinda interested in what truly defines a "prime rib" and the differing thoughts here made me do a google search. I'm including my favorite recipe at the bottom too!
A tender cut of beef taken from the rib primal. It is very tender, flavorful, and expensive. Prime rib is basically another name for a beef rib roast. Many people have the mistaken idea that the term "Prime Rib" refers to a roast that is graded "Prime" when actually the name has nothing to do with the grade or quality. Most of the roasts sold in supermarkets that are named "Prime Rib" are graded "Choice". Prime rib roasts that are graded "Prime" are usually available only to restaurants or through a special order with a butcher.
Rib refers to where the cut of meat was taken. The beef rib section contains less connective tissue than other cuts of meat making it one of the more tender cuts. Prime is generally the top or highest grade of meat. It contains the greatest degree of marbling making it juicier and more tender. The grade of meat may not necessarily be "prime" to be called "prime rib roast." With or without the prime grade, prime rib roast is traditionally considered elegant, tender, and juicy. Meat may be purchased as rolled roast, standing rib, boneless, rib-eye, small end, or large end rib roast.
From foodnetwork.com as quoted from --Copyright (c) 1995 by Barron's Educational Series, from The New Food Lover's Companion, Second Edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst:
Definition: The term "prime rib" is often incorrectly used as a label for what is actually a rib roast. Culinarily, the term "prime" actually refers to the highest USDA beef grade. It's only given to the finest beef, hallmarked by even marbling and a creamy layer of fat. Very little prime beef makes it past the better hotels and restaurants or prestige butchers. The best grade of beef generally found in supermarkets is USDA Choice. Therefore, although "prime rib" is how rib roast is often labeled, chances are that it's USDA Choice beef.
Okay as you can see with a 2 minute Google search (prime rib definition), that prime is a misnomer, it refers to the section not the grade. While I like to think that even a choice grade grade roast can be a "prime" candidate for a great cut of meat.
Personal favorite way to make a rib roast:
Whatever size (I prefer about a 6 pounder), first thing is age it carefully at least 4 days before cooking. Foodnetwork.com has instructions, so do quite a few other places. I have aged a roast up to 25 days in a small kegerator I converted to try this.
I do NOT recommend soaking in anything other than a simple citrus marinade (orange is my preference, and don't worry it doesn't "flavor the roast"). And soaking is a misnomer, no more than about 1 hour. Remeber in aging we are trying to reduce the water in the meat. The citrus breaks down connective tissues for an even more "melty" experience.
Season to taste, I prefer a simple salt and garlic rub held together with an extra virgin olive oil. Next it's off to the pan.
I trust you all have a large IRON skillet? Good, get it SUPER HOT, and sear all around the roast. This makes for a crispy crust and leavings in the pan for aujus. Now stick your thermometer probe in. Make sure it's a wired type so you do NOT ever open the oven door until the meat is done.
No just wait. Read a book, watch tv, go for a walk. Anything but fuss with the roast. It'll cook just fine by itself.
2 points not given here often enough. Firstly pull the meat 7 to 10 degrees before desired doneness (for medium rare that's about 120 degrees to 123 degrees). It will continue cooking for at least 10 minutes after being removed from the oven. Next and this is the most important thing. Let the meat REST before cutting it. That means wait at least 15 to 20 minutes before cutting it, heck before even moving it. This will result in a JUICY tasty roast.
If you want to make a quick au jus, here's my shortcut. As soon as the meat is out start reducing about 1 and 1/2 cups red wine in a pan. Include some seasoning to your tast, I like carmelized onions, some canned B&B mushrooms, and a sliced celery stalk. When it's reduced by half, (should be about time to cut the roast too incedentally), cut the roast and take the escaped juices, don't worry it'll still be juicy, and put them in your magic brew. Also scrape the cooking pan for any little bits of magic there and dump it in. I myself will usually trim an excess piece of fat or two from the roast and put it in too.
Turn up to medium high for about 2 minutes. This is about how long it'll take to get people seated. I also like to add, if available, a few teaspoons of SIZZER steak sauce. Trust me, I have tried other brands, and nothing else works as well. Have the roast presented, while you strain the concoction. If you're a selfish bastich like me you'll stick the strained out stuff on the side of your plate. They are marvelous!
Viola! A simple PERFECT prime, or should I say standing rib roast.