Meet the Meat: Prime Rib with Smashed Baby Potatoes

Words: Karl Tessendorf

Greetings my fellow meatheads! In Meet the Meat posts I will be your guide as we traverse the world of meat. Each post will focus on a different cut and I’ll whip up something delicious. We’ll laugh, we’ll learn and if you play along, you’ll get to stuff your face full of meaty goodness.

In this post I’ll be featuring beef prime rib roast. I first learned of this glorious cut when I was working in America as a waiter in a fancy country club. Once a week they’d have Prime Rib Night. It was my favourite night to work because it meant that I could wangle a slice of this carnivorous gold. Prime rib is a big thing over there, but funny enough you rarely see it here. 

When a cow is butchered it’s divided into the primal cuts. From here these cuts are broken down into the subprimal cuts. The prime rib comes from the top part of the centre cut of the animal, and it consists of seven ribs – ribs six to twelve. The ribs have a large eye of meat running down the back side and they’re surrounded by a thick fat cap. The eye meat is packed with marbling and is super tender. If you had to cut the eye off the bone you’d be left with possibly my favourite steak – the ribeye.

So now you know the cut, but how to cook this beefy behemoth? If you guessed ‘in the oven’, then you’re on the road to success. The only difference is the method. Some time ago, some clever sausage figured out that by reversing the traditional roasting method of, high-heat-first-low-heat-to-finish, you got a juicier and more tender result with little to no over cooking.

This method is known as the reverse sear technique. Our prime rib is going to roast for three and a bit hours at low temperature. Then just before it’s served, it’s blasted briefly at the hottest temperature your oven will go to. This blast gives the beef a beautifully crusty exterior.

Purists would argue that you should only season with salt and pepper, but I prefer something a little bolder. My dry rub is a Texas inspired mix that’s packed with flavour and kick.

The thing to keep in mind is that a rib roast is a big hunk of meat. So even though it may seem like you’re being heavy-handed with the rub, remember it’s only on the outside. To help the rub stick we’re going to use another gift from the cow – butter. I like to brown my butter beforehand to add a nutty dimension to the flavour pool.

So, we’ve got our beef and we’ve got our rub, all we need now is some kick ass sides. In my opinion, a roast isn’t a roast without crispy taters. They’re a staple in my house, partly because we love them, and partly because my wife will beat me to death with the roast if I don’t make them. I love doing a smashed baby potato cooked at high heat to get the extra crispy crunch. For a sauce, I’ve gone with a double cream horseradish cream to send this dish into the realm of decadence. It’s rich, creamy and has that distinctive, tart hum that pairs so well with beef.

Before I sign off, I’d like to share probably the most valuable tip when it comes to meat – know your butcher.

It really pays to find a great butcher that you can develop a relationship with. A cut like a beef rib roast is not an everyday cut, but if you have the right butcher, you’ll never be without. My butcher is Dave jnr. at Bill Riley Meat in Cape Town. If you’re in the area I highly recommend you check them out. Till next we meat again, cheers!       

Prime Rib Roast with Smashed Potatoes & Horseradish Cream


4 kg rib roast (3 bones)
sea salt

Dry Rub

2 Tbsp (30 ml) freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp (30 ml) freshly ground sea salt
1 Tbsp (15 ml) dried thyme
2 tsp (10 ml) paprika
1 tsp (5 ml) chilli powder
1 tsp (5 ml) ground garlic
1 tsp (5 ml) mustard powder

Browned Butter

150 g butter

Horseradish Double Cream Sauce

½ C (125 ml) crème fraîche
145 g bottle of creamed horseradish
2 Tbsp (30 ml) chives, chopped
2 tsp (10 ml) Dijon mustard
½ tsp (5 ml) fresh garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Smashed Baby Potatoes

1 kg baby potatoes, unpeeled
olive oil
fresh thyme, chopped
fresh rosemary, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Preparing the Roast

Season the roast generously with freshly ground sea salt at least an hour before cooking. The salt will draw out moisture and then dissolve in it. Over time the moisture will be absorbed back into the meat. This process helps to get more flavour into the meat. For best results season the meat a day in advance and let the roast rest in the fridge uncovered.

Dry Rub

Mix all of the ingredients together until combined.

Browned Butter

Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat while stirring occasionally. When the butter starts to foam, use a spatula to move it around the pan to prevent sticking. As it foams it will give off a nutty aroma. When it turns light brown remove it from the pan to prevent burning. Pour the butter into a bowl and allow to cool slightly. Add the spice rub mix, stir to combine and then refrigerate to firm.

The Roast Part 1

Preheat the oven to 100 °C.

Generously slather the roast with the buttery spice mix. Roast on a roasting rack in the oven for 3 ½ hours. At the 3 ½ hour mark insert a meat thermometer into the centre of the roast to give an indication of internal temperature. For rare beef, it needs to be around 52 °C to 55 °C. For medium rare, 55 °C to 60 °C. When the meat has reached the desired internal temperature remove from the oven. Cover loosely with foil and rest for 30-40 minutes (continue with cooking the potatoes while the meat rests).

Smashed Baby Potatoes

Turn the oven up to 240 °C or its highest setting and use the convection setting if you have one.

Boil the potatoes in a saucepan of salted water over high heat. Once cooked, remove from heat and drain. Oil a large baking tray with olive oil and then place the hot potatoes onto the tray. Use the back of a large spoon to gently crush the potatoes, while still keeping them intact. Season with salt and pepper and top with rosemary and thyme. Give each potato another generous glug of olive oil and then roast at 230 °C for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.

Horseradish Double Cream Sauce

Whisk all of the ingredients together and refrigerate ready to serve.

The Roast Part 2

Once the potatoes are done, roast the beef at 240 °C for 6-8 minutes until it has a browned, crusty exterior. Remove from the oven, carve* and serve. The beef can be rested, but for this cut it’s not necessary.

*To carve a cut of prime rib, use a long, sharp chef’s knife and run the blade along the contour of the bones, cutting the meat from the ribs in one piece. The roast can then be sliced and served.

See other recipes in the Meet the Meat series.

Hungry for more? Subscribe to our newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>