I’m kidding, right?

How can you have prime rib for two at home without having a ton left over? We all know that prime rib is usually designated for holiday parties or restaurant menus. You need at least ten people to make it feasible. Don’t get me wrong, next day prime rib is good, very good. On the other hand, if you have a big piece of prime rib in the fridge today, you probably just had it last night.

Sous Vide Painted Hills Ribeye

The whole prime rib is so big, I couldn’t even fit it in the picture! Not really, but this 22 pounder gets the idea across–it’s a big piece of meat, usually closer to 15 lbs. People cut them down into halves or even thirds to avoid all that bulk, but once you get down to about 5 lbs, prime rib starts getting difficult to hold still and slice straight.

Like Laurence Fishburne says in those Matrix movies “What if I told you…?” What if I told you that you could have prime rib for two anytime you wanted, with no more than a four hour window to make it happen? You could meet the kismetic partner of your romantic dreams on the bus in the morning, and serve them prime rib at your place that night.


Like I said, the roast starts getting difficult to slice uniformly once you’ve hacked your way through the first two thirds, even without the bone. Sometimes, despite your efforts, the whole thing just starts falling apart. Soooooo…what do you do? Well, how about……how about if you just had to cut the whole roast in half? How hard can it be to just gauge that one cut? Even if both pieces aren’t exactly the same size, well, let’s just say you could flip for it.

So here’s what I did. I bought a whole prime rib, bone-in, 15 lbs. It was a holiday special down at the local market chain so I got a good price. When I saw that it had been tied with string, I knew what that meant. The butcher had removed and then reattached the bone–a common practice to make things easier for the family festivities. I would have preferred that it be attached, but we adapt, right? I processed the bones separately at a different temperature, so that gets squeezed into next week’s schedule somewhere.

After trimming off some fat, I ended up with a roast that weighed about 11 lbs/5 Kg. I cut it into six pieces, ranging between 28 oz/750 g to 32 oz/900 g. Each one is easily big enough for two people, no skimping, there’s no point in serving prime rib if you’re going to slice it under 0.5″/15 mm, right? That gave me this:

You can just barely see the bones and the trim on the left. There was even enough trim to make a dark stock that we can use to avoid buying the packaged jus.

In the tank we go,

130 F/54 C for anywhere from four to eight hours.

Wait. What? I’ve been talking a lot about duration lately. Temperature determines appearance of doneness, most of us know that. Time determines tenderness–how much collagen is converted to gelatin at a certain temperature. But there is no “moment” before which the protein is under-cooked and after which it is ruined. At such low temperatures, the tenderization process proceeds very slowly. The difference in texture between 4 hours and 12 hours is hardly noticeable.

This changes the whole “I like sous vide but the timing is so inconvenient” caveat into a model that almost anybody can fit into their day. If you are mindful of the temperatures you are using, you can put the steak or pork chop or chicken in the bath in the morning before you go to work and it will be ready to finish when you get home. Or you can put the item in the bath when you get home from work, take some time to play with the kids, tell your loving companion about your day and have a cocktail or two. Watch Jeopardy. No detectable difference.

I’ve been trying for a while to get sous vide to overcook something. We always hear people complaining that it turns meat to mush. These are usually people that have never actually done it, they just imagine it, understandably. I’ll tell you what, I’m having a hard time getting that mush thing to happen. I left a leg of lamb in there for an extra 24 hours last week because of scheduling changes and it was still perfect the next day. Flat iron steak, same thing. Moving on.

Okay, two things.


You do not avoid this by hurrying up. I have learned that photography and hurrying up are antithetical. You use a hot plate–in the warming oven for a while, so, 170F-190F, thereabouts. Not only will it prevent the coagulation, it will force some juices to the top.

Creamed spinach

If you put a little salt on the greens and vacuum them, they wilt down and release all the water and a bunch of chlorophyll too. You do that first, and then you open the bag, take the greens out, wrap them in a towel and vacuum again. Not only will they do what you want now, they will keep in the fridge indefinitely in this state until you want to use them. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know why.

I learned it from a Greek lady a long time ago who made Spanikopita that way. She didn’t vacuum it, she just sprinkled it and came back the next day and squeezed it out. Vacuuming gets it done in a matter of minutes. So, I did the cream butter emulsion thing, 3 to 1…

Dauphine and Dauphinoise are not the same thing?

I like baked potatoes with prime rib, but I don’t think you need me to show you how to bake a potato. I do coat them with egg white and sprinkle with kosher salt, that gives an awesome result. Anyway, it becomes a contest between the meat and the starch, almost impossible to finish them both. So we will do something a little different.

As if French isn’t confusing enough, dauphine potatoes are not the same as dauphinoise potatoes. Dauphinoise are like au gratin, depending on who you talk to, and dauphines are cooked mashed potato combined with pâte à choux, which, despite its name, has nothing to do with cabbage. One SV potato, 183FX1 hour, cooled and mixed with this classic French binder/paste made out of flour, water, butter, and eggs. The batter is then deep fried. Big back in the 70’s haven’t seen them since.

Let’s see, what else?

After I finished shooting, I called the neighbor and gave up one of the slices, he loves me. He also helps the wife put out the garbage and do little things outside because I can’t. The other slice was cold, so I got the CI pan hot and did this:

Officially, this is a reheat, so how does it look inside?

A thing about digital photography. Red is hard. This was actually perfect, but it looks more mediumish. It was good. Let’s see, what else…

OH! I did a couple of the roasts at the same time, because that’s the way photography goes sometimes. You really screw the first one up. So instead of prime ribbing it, I rib eye steaked the second one.

By now I was running out of gas, big time, so the presentation became hastified. It’s only us here, anyway, right?

Not exactly London Broil

Norm King