What do I have to do to get a good beef roast?

This is the fifth year in a row I have attempted to get a prime rib roast for Christmas. The reason is that once, decades ago, I had prime rib at a restaurant, and it was wonderful.

So, I have tried the regular grocery store, the very upscale Whole Foods, and even a well-known mail-order meat company. (In all fairness, everything else I’ve ever gotten from them is outstanding.) Each time, after roasting the meat carefully according to multiple sources’ instructions, I am left with a pool of delicious smelling fat with virtually no meat at all. I am not exaggerating.

I don’t mind spending $100 on a roast to serve four people, but it has to at least have one slice for each person.

What I suspect is that the actual prime rib roasts are going to the very rich and high-end restaurants, and the rest of us are just screwed. I’m sure it’s much more fun for them that way.

Huh. I have no idea why you are having such problems. We always end up with way more meat than we could possibly eat, and we just usually get the choice rib roast that goes on sale for $5-$6/lb at the local supermarket around the holidays, so nothing fancy. You can never go wrong with Costco, though. I mean, there’s a fat cap on it and some intramuscular fat, but “virtually no meat” has been the exact opposite of every experience I’ve had with it.

Likewise baffled at the OP’s experience. I served a very delicious 4-lb. boneless prime rib to an appreciative gathering a couple weeks ago, and had literally pounds of meat left over. My sister’s holiday dinner was a NY Strip roast of about the same size and was likewise ample in quantity as well as superb in quality. (And neither of those roasts cost anywhere near $100.)

I had my roast cut to order by the butcher at the local co-op supermarket and I think she got hers at a big chain supermarket, so I’m sure it’s not a supplier issue. In fact, I’m sure that this is not a widespread issue at all, since if most consumers were finding that expensive beef roasts were essentially vanishing in the oven the public would sure as hell be hearing about it.

Unless you are cooking your roast down to well-done charcoal, or have an infestation of heat-resistant oven raccoons, I can’t imagine what could be causing the problem you report. Maybe a family member or guest is sneaking into the kitchen and stealing most of the meat before you serve it? Seriously, that is sounding to me like a much less implausible explanation than that your oven is somehow turning a high-quality prime rib roast into mostly melted fat.

band name!

Get a good butcher…Whole foods are not good butchers.

Watch Alton and a few others…

At $10 to $17 a pound you should get a GREAT 4-5 bone rib for under $50…

I buy $4000 of food a week. My personal food comes from a reputable Butcher and a good grocery store. The other $3940 a week goes to a restaurant supplier. The BEST i can buy comes from a local grocer.


First, abandon any hope of getting homemade Prime Rib to be much of anything like they serve at a restaurant. It’s certainly possible, but it’ll take a lot of luck or experience. A big part of the price of prime rib in a restaurant is the ability to get it cooked exactly how you want it. There’s a reason why restaurants will normally serve any item on their menu any time, but prime rib is usually only available after a certain time. You’re not going to get it cooked to just the right temperature when you cook in a home kitchen and make this cut of meat at most once a year.

But it sounds like that’s not really your problem. I can only suggest that you’re buying the wrong cut of meat. You want a standing rib roast. You might be getting something else, even if that’s what you order. You want to go to a butcher or other grocery store that specializes in meat to be sure you’re getting what you ask for. If you’re paying $100 for a roast you probably aren’t buying something that’s labeled as chuck roast, but it very well might be in reality if you’re getting it from somewhere that doesn’t stake their reputation on the quality of their meat.

That seems a bit light to me. At $10-$17/lb, for $50, that would be a 3-5 lb roast. I know you said you do a lot of buying, but in my experience, a 4-5 bone rib roast would be more like 8-12 pounds. Last 2-rib roast I bought was a bit over 5 pounds.

Questions about cuisine will generally do better in CS. Moving.

OP’s experience happened to me one time, in years of cooking standing ribs. Last year as a matter of fact. Cut into it and all fat in the middle. Pretty ticked. Went back to store that usually has good meat and talked to the butcher. He said it happens sometimes that the cut has mostly fat in the middle. Gave me another roast for NYE.

I had no idea and was pretty much :confused: at the OP’s situation. But I guess from your post it’s just the luck of the draw.

Also I have had consistently restaurant quality results with prime rib (or pretty much with even ‘choice’ rib). With a meat thermometer and recipe it’s hard to go wrong.

Indeed. It’s not that difficult. I only make rib roast once a year (though I’ll make other roasts throughout the year), and I’ve never had one not come out great, from the very first one (and I’ve only used choice rib roast, not prime). With a meat thermometer, it’s not particularly hard.

Anyhow, judging by DummyGladHands’s experience, seems like OP just has really bad luck. Another possibility is what area of the rib roast the meat was cut from, perhaps? A whole rib roast is 7 ribs. The short end is closer to the loin and has leaner meat. The other end will have bigger fat pockets in it. Some info here.

YMMV indeed! While I fully agree about a good butcher, prices can vary wildly by location. I smoked a 5 bone roast about three weeks ago and it ran me CAD$120, about USD$90. I think it was $29/lb

OK, now I’m really confused about the sizes of everyone’s roasts here. At $29/lb, assuming Canadian, your 5-rib roast was just over four pounds? And entire rib roast (7 ribs) generally runs 16-24 pounds around here.

Sorry, it was a 4 rib roast. They cut the 7 bone in two and I took the bigger side. I can’t remember the exact weight but was about $150.

I just roasted an 8lb 3 rib large end Angus roast that I paid $7.99 a pound for. I tried a new method, the reverse sear. You start at low temperature, 250 degrees until you get to an internal temperature of 115 degrees. Remove it from the oven. Turn the oven up to 500 degrees. When it reaches 500, put the roast back in to brown the outside, until it reaches 125-130 internal temperature. Total time, about 4-5 hours for an 8lb roast.

That’s the method I use. I’m not going to say it’s the best method, but it’s certainly the easiest, and gives you the most even cooking in the interior of the roast. You really cannot screw up a roast using this method.

A properly cooked roast does not need to be prime to be great. I’ve had wonderful results using Alton Brown’s method which is similar to what Fear Itself mentioned. For a change, early in December I took a 2-bone $5/lb on sale roast and used a Sous Vide method (132F for 7 hours followed by a 500F sear for 15 minutes) and it came out very good. I followed this on Christmas day with a 6 rib roast ($8/lb) which was placed in a 2.5 gal ziploc and cooked at the same temp for 10 hours followed by the same sear. I can’t remember anytime I’ve had better.

Totally eliminated the “shit, dinner is scheduled in 10 minutes but the interior temp is only 110 degrees” panic that occasionally takes place.

That’s basically my method as well although, heresy it may be, I prefer to take it to a slightly higher temp of 135 or 140.

I’m confused about getting a bad roast too. You can see both ends of the roast when you buy it and there’s not some mysterious blob of fat somewhere in the middle.

From the sound it it, the OP is overcooking the roast. Anything over medium rare in the middle is a slap to the life of the dear animal it came from. Also, age that roast at least a few days in the fridge using Alton Brown’s directions. May smell and look a bit funky, but will taste world’s better.

I use the old, 15 min/pound at 450-500 degrees, turn off the oven and it sit an hour/pound in the closed oven. 10/15 minutes when ready to serve to develop a crust and reheat. I wrote in another thread that the most amazing roast (Choice not Prime) was one that I severely undercooked, think raw but heated through. I’ve never been able to achieve that again!

Edit: The aus ju helped with the flavor, but the texture was like the best sashimi I ever had, only tasting like beef! SIGH