Prime Rib Steak: Understanding Your Beef Cuts

Prime rib steak is a specialty cut of meat derived from its famous cousin: the standing rib roast. Before going any further, it is important to point out that the word prime in the name does not necessarily refer to the quality of the meat as per the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture's) grading scale. In fact, it is just a matter of tradition.

To put this into perspective, lets start at the beginning. Traditionally, in the United States a steer is processed into 8 primal cuts. Working from the top of the animal and moving from front to back, we have the following cuts: 1. Chuck, 2. Rib, 3. Loin, 4. Sirloin, 5. Round. Now working from the bottom of the animal and also moving front to back, we have: 6. Brisket, 7. Plate, 8. Flank.

During processing, the cattle carcasses are initially cut into these 8 sections before portioning into steaks or roasts, or before being shipped wholesale to butchers. Butchers at high-end butcher shops or in the super-market meat departments will then break down these cuts further. Of course, carcasses are sometimes sectioned into sides and sold in half or quarter portions.

The standing rib roast comes from - you guessed it - the rib section! During processing, the section of the steer between ribs no. 6 and 12 is removed - with ribs and some portion of the vertebrae attached. As this large rib section is passed along to the butcher, he may break it down further into smaller roasts containing anywhere from two to seven ribs. The standing rib roast gets its name from the traditional cooking process where chefs and grandmas stand the meat - backbone down - in the pan with the ribs sticking up into the air. Now, just to confuse you a little more, this roast is also known as a Prime Rib roast or just prime-rib - but its really the same cut of beef.

Now it gets more interesting: If a butcher takes a regular standing rib roast (carved from the primal rib cut), lays it flat and cuts steaks from it (cutting parallel to the ribs), these resulting slices are now known as prime rib steaks. Sometimes the rib-bones are left in, and in other instances, they are removed. If the rib-bones are removed, this then becomes a rib-eye steak: the absolute favorite among barbecue enthusiasts.

Cooking a prime rib roast is a snap. A 3 rib roast will weigh around eight pounds and will be suitable to feed about six hungry people. Choose one with a thick fat cap, and make sure you bring it to room temperature before starting. Apply your favorite dry-rub (or salt and pepper for the purists) and then preheat your oven to 450 F. Stand it up in a roasting pan and slip it into the oven, turning the temperature down to 325 F after half an hour. Cook to an internal temperature of 140 F for medium, 120 F for rare, then make sure to let it rest for at least 20 minutes before serving. If you are preparing prime rib steaks, a hot seasoned grill is all you will need. You can sear each portion for 3 minutes a side for a perfectly juicy prime rib steak.

To learn more about prime rib steaks, CLICK THROUGH to our prime rib steak page to find recipes and retailers.



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