How do I make my Christmas roast keep in the refrigerator?
December 21, 2017 7:53 PM   Subscribe

I just got home from Costco with a beautiful USDA Prime bone-in rib roast for Christmas with a sell-by date of 12/24. How do I ensure that it keeps until I cook it on Monday?

It's currently packed with plastic wrap on styrofoam. The packing date is, IIRC, today, and the Sell By date is 12/24. So, it should be fine... but I've had meat go before the sell-by date before. Is there anything I can do to help ensure it keeps?
posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper to Food & Drink (8 answers total)
If the packaging seems watertight, you could pack it in ice inside an insulated bag at the bottom / back of your fridge. With enough ice, you could keep it just above freezing this way.

The USDA has some good advice. Their Storage Time for Refrigerated Foods lists Steaks, chops, roasts as safe to store for 3-5 days. Sounds like Costco recommended right in the middle with 4 days.

The USDA's Safe Refrigerator Temperature specifies 40 degrees F or below. By packing in ice, you can be really confident that the temperature won't get up above 40 degrees between your refrigerator cycles, door opening, etc.
posted by reeddavid at 8:09 PM on December 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

I would not even second guess that meat as being safe to serve. Also personally tomorrow I'd unwrap it, detach the bones, season it, tie the bones back on, and leave it uncovered on a wire rack in the fridge. Bacteria don't penetrate uncut meat, and salt inhibits bacterial growth.

At a minimum I'd do this 24 hours before cooking (for better flavor and better crust), but 72 is A-OK (I'm not sure it makes much of a difference over 24 hours, but it certainly doesn't hurt). I did this last year and nobody fell ill, and there's a standing rib roast in our fridge right now I did exactly the above steps to yesterday, 48 hours ahead of when we're cooking it for Fake Christmas tomorrow. The only reason I didn't do it 72 hours ahead this year is that I couldn't get to Costco until Wednesday.
posted by fedward at 8:59 PM on December 21, 2017 [13 favorites]

In my experience meat (and much other stuff) packed in plastic goes off much faster than if it's unwrapped. I'd unwrap the meat and keep it in the fridge happily well past Xmas. At most, I'd cover it with an overturned bowl, or some paper towel. (And I wouldn't de-bone it, as leaving it uncut gives less attack surface for bacteria.) It will be delicious.
posted by anadem at 9:23 PM on December 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Harry, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don't plan it. Don't wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men's store, a catnap in your office chair, or a few pounds of good, hot USDA Prime bone-in rib roast. That meat's good to go baby - fridge it and season it like fedward's saying.
posted by stinkfoot at 10:24 PM on December 21, 2017 [29 favorites]

Congratulations, folks. You’ve given me my present for the day. Stinkfoot, that’s possibly the best MeFi comment I’ve read in my 16 years of MeFi-dom.
posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 11:19 PM on December 21, 2017 [6 favorites]

Seriously, I'm doing duck breast this year and I'm thinking, unwrap that thing and season it on a tray in the fridge until Monday. I had one of them before and oh... just hit it in the oven until med-to medium rare and omg. So good.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 11:25 PM on December 21, 2017

People age rib roasts on purpose.
posted by ftm at 6:34 AM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

"Sell by" has an interesting history. And it doesn't mean "eat by." Your [US] tax dollars at work at the USDA ERS:
Safety After Date Passes
With an exception of infant formula (described below), if the date passes during home storage, a product should still be safe and wholesome if handled properly until the time spoilage is evident (Chill Refrigerate Promptly). Spoiled foods will develop an off odor, flavor or texture due to naturally occurring spoilage bacteria. If a food has developed such spoilage characteristics, it should not be eaten.

Your roast sounds awesome. Happy Christmas dinner.
posted by Miko at 6:59 AM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

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