Prime rib to go, please.
December 14, 2017 12:41 PM   Subscribe

My relative naivete with meat is on full display here. I am flummoxed on the best way to procure beef for Christmas dinner.

We will be driving from San Diego to Phoenix the Saturday before Christmas to spend with family. I will be making prime rib for Christmas dinner (the preparation/ recipe has been finalized; I have been practicing at home - all is well on that front.)

For the life of me I cannot figure out when/where would be best to buy the prime rib. I do not want to have to freeze and thaw out the meat.

So far, I've been buying beef at Costco, but do not know if waiting until Christmas Eve to purchase it there would be risky - is there a chance they'd run out or wouldn't stock it? Could I call ahead and reserve? Would it be possible to reserve prime rib at a Whole Foods in Phoenix? Is going with a local butcher a better option? I don't believe buying it in San Diego, refrigerating it, putting it on ice for the journey and then refrigerating it until Christmas Day is a smart option. Traveling is slow and unpredictable with a toddler.

If any of you can recommend a great local butcher in Phoenix who might be open on Christmas Eve, and who may let me call ahead to reserve, please let me know.

Please pardon my failure at adulting in this particular instance. Thank you!
posted by Everydayville to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I buy the strip loin roast or the boneless rib eye roast every year.It will keep very well in the cryovac packaging as long as it's kept cool. I just did one last week using the reverse sear method (225 degrees until it hit 138, let it rest, and then blasted at 500 degrees for 10 minutes) and it came out amazingly.

There's a chowhound thread re:wet aging where folks throw one in the fridge for 45-60 days.
posted by exparrot at 12:52 PM on December 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Well, you could do what someone I knew did, bring the cryovaced beef with him on carry on. Yep, he went to Costco, bought a monster beef standing rib roast that was sealed, wrapped it with gel packs and took it on board. I asked him why not a cooler and he replied it was easier and under his control with carry on duffle bag filled with meat.
posted by jadepearl at 12:53 PM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

This, for me, is the definitive guide for how to prime-rib.

relevant quote, emphasis mine:

"Season it well, and season it early if you've got time. Prime rib has plenty of flavor on its own, so there's no real need to add much more than a good heavy sprinkling of salt and pepper. If you're able to plan ahead, it's best to season your prime rib with salt at least the day before, and up to four days ahead of roasting, letting it sit on a rack in your fridge uncovered. This will allow time for the salt to penetrate and season more deeply while also drying out the surface, which will lead to better browning during roasting."

If I were you id buy my rib roast Thursday or Friday, salt it and let it chill in your fridge until its time to drive, toss it in a cooler for the drive, and get it back into a fridge to dry out completely before you cook it on xmas. Having to put it in a bag for the drive isn't ideal, but if the drive happens on day 2/3 of the salt and if you have another 12 hours at least before it goes in the oven the exterior should be nice and dry and ready to brown perfectly using the reverse sear.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:53 PM on December 14, 2017 [6 favorites]

If you have an appropriately-sized cooler, or are willing to pick up a styrofoam cooler at 7-11 or wherever, I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to pack the meat and bring it. A cooler packed to the top with ice and cold stuff will stay acceptably cold for days if it's not opened, and if you buy the meat on, say, Thursday or Friday, cooking it on Monday really shouldn't be a problem.

(I say this largely because the idea of going into any place where things are sold on Christmas Eve gives me hives.)
posted by uncleozzy at 12:54 PM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

As uncleozzy said I don't think the drive is too long for a well-packed (and unopened) cooler to keep your beef at an acceptable temperature. Also the salt all over the outside in my suggested option will further inhibit the growth of bad things.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:55 PM on December 14, 2017

Exceptional_Hubris: Serious Eats has been my primary resource for the preparation of prime rib. Usually I salt 48 hours in advance of cooking, and wrap it loosely in cling wrap before putting it in the fridge. I guess I've mostly been leery of putting this thing in a cooler for almost 6 hours or more, but these comments have been reassuring.
posted by Everydayville at 1:49 PM on December 14, 2017

Rest assured that the cooler will keep your meat at a good temperature. I regularly drive with a cooler full of groceries 4.5 to 5 hours and at this point, I don't even put any ice or freezer packs in it. I'm not suggesting you do this with a lovely (expensive) cut of beef, but as others have said, pack the beef well, with ice/ice packs and don't open the cooler and you'll be fine.
posted by sarajane at 1:55 PM on December 14, 2017

yeah, don't skimp on the ice, don't open the cooler to check on it, keep it out of direct sun and you'll be just fine. the salt and size of the meat are working in your favor, even without any ice, I sizable chunk of meat coming out of a 34 degree fridge would stay pretty cold inside a cooler for a few hours at least.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 2:14 PM on December 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Update: I wrapped the meat in cling film and then placed that in a plastic bag. Surrounded it in ice in a Styrofoam cooler in the trunk for ~6 hours. When we got to Arizona I re-salted and put it in the fridge unwrapped for a day and a half.

It turned out fantastic for Christmas dinner! Thanks for the input.
posted by Everydayville at 1:47 PM on January 4, 2018

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