Earlier this year Amanda Hesser had a compelling article in the Times about standing rib roast; compelling in the sense that, after I read it, I felt compelled to try the recipe that Hesser was promoting. It was a resurrected technique from a 1960s article by Craig Claiborne (borrowed, in turn, from former Gourmet editor Ann Seranne) that called for roasting the meat for a short time at a very high temperature (500 degrees), then turning off the heat and letting it coast in to perfect doneness as the oven cooled.
Hesser's write-up offered the recipe as a lost and rediscovered treasure, and I got all squirmy and hungry looking at the crisp-fatted, dark brown roast pictured in the article:
So I tried it, and when it produced a gray, dry, grimly overcooked roast I tried it again. I am not a pro by any stretch, but I think I'm a better-than-competent cook, and there aren't many variables in Hesser/Claiborne/Seranne's recipe to screw up. Still, I figured I must have done something wrong on the first attempt and so I was hyper-vigilant the second time around. The second roast was grayer, dryer and tougher than the first. Worse, the recipe instructs you to "allow the roast to remain in the oven until oven is lukewarm," so once you added time to bring it to the table, gather guests, carve and serve, I had a tough, gray, dry, and cold roast, which translated to a lot of depressing leftovers.
I still think I must have done something wrong, since this recipe has to have been tested many times, successfully, on the way to being printed and reprinted. But whatever I did must be a kind of mistake that plenty of folks could make.
Anyway, this weekend my family got together to celebrate my sister's birthday and she requested a standing rib roast. This was now a more-or-less dreadful assignment, but I decided to try out a method, this one from Jacques Pepin Celebrates. Our 7ish-pound, three-rib roast got 30 minutes at 425 and an hour at 400, after which I dropped the oven to 160 and let the meat rest inside, uncovered, for an hour.
God, it was perfect. Lovely and brown outside, rose-red all the way through. And the long spell resting in the warm oven meant that the roast was warm throughout our meal.
So I strongly recommend the Pepin recipe to anyone who's interested (it's available via Good Morning America here:)
And, since I still think I must've blown it, I'm very interested to hear from anyone who made the Times' recipe work.