Elbert Cuenca Reveals His Secret to Making the Perfect Prime Rib

IMAGE Instagram/Alfonso Hortaleza

Preparing a prime rib yourself could be a daunting task that you may not even try to undertake if intimidated enough by the pressures of the holiday rush. If it’s an expert’s advice you seek, Elbert Cuenca of Elbert’s Steak Room in Salcedo Village, Makati, took to his Facebook account to share an early Christmas present with us all. He calls it his “Guide To Making Great Prime Rib at Home (a.k.a. How to Be the Hero of Noche Buena),” and it gives you a chance to recreate his own prime rib recipe in the comforts of your own kitchen. Here is his exact guide:

Should you be given roasting duties this holiday season, here’s my guide to making a great prime rib at home. It’s quite easy and is pretty much fool-proof, even a non-cook can do this. The method is a bit unorthodox, but it is what I've found to be the easiest and to work best.

The most important part in making a great roast is the preparation. Make sure you have a meat thermometer handy and allocate around half a day for the task.

Since you will be investing a lot of time in this, you might as well invest in some quality meat.

1. BUY
Care more about the grading than the breed of cattle. A seven-kilo slab that is USDA Choice grade is a good start. Bone-in would make things more flavorful. You can even splurge and opt for prime grade if you’re feeling decadent. Make sure you’re purchasing meat that’s in vacuum-sealed packaging.


Keep the meat in its vacuum packaging and place it in your chiller at least three days to a week before the day of roasting. Slow-thawing is very, very essential. I cannot stress this enough.

The next step is to bring the slab to room temperature. At least two hours before cooking, take the slab out of the chiller and remove the plastic packaging. Then leave it out on a roasting pan.

3. RUB
When you’re ready to cook, pat the meat dry with a paper towel and apply a simple dry rub. Key and basic ingredients would be a liberal amount of coarse sea salt and pepper. You can make things interesting by adding herbs like thyme, oregano, rosemary, etc. At Elbert’s Steak Room, we like to add some garlic salt and dijon mustard to the rub.

Go slow and low. There’s no need to preheat the oven, just place the slab into the oven and then turn the temperature to a very low setting (around 93°C/200°F would be good).

DO NOT use a countdown timer. Instead, use a meat thermometer to know when to stop roasting. Expect four to five hours for a seven-kilo slab.

Insert the thermometer to reach the center of the slab to measure the internal temperature of the roast. When it reaches 49-52°C/120-125°F, pull it out of the oven and allow it to rest.

Right out of the oven, the slab is actually still cooking, and so the internal temperature will rise a bit more and will reach medium rare (60°C-63°C/140°F-145°F).

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Place the slab on a rack or a wooden board and lightly cover it with aluminum foil. I like to give the roast at least 30 minutes of rest.

If you want to rest it longer, you can. Just place it back in the oven while it is off, but make sure the oven has cooled down significantly.

Collect all the drippings from the roasting pan to make au jus. There are many recipes online, just go with whatever catches your fancy.

The slab has already been cooked, so searing is simply for enhanced appearance and added texture.

Prepare the oven for the searing by preheating it to its maximum temperature for at least 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove the foil, and place the slab back into the preheated oven. The extreme heat will crisp the outer side of the slab.

Pull the meat out when you see it's browned enough, Around eight minutes should be sufficient to achieve this.

Since the roast is already rested, you can slice and serve immediately. Get a properly-sharp carving knife and slice on demand (don't pre-slice the meat!). Some of your guests may prefer elegant thin slices, while others may want the "yabadabadoo" cut with the bone intact.

You can serve your masterpiece with whatever side dishes you want, just make sure the au jus is piping hot.

Note that resting (the time between roasting and searing) can be stretched. In fact, in our experience, the longer the rest time, the better the meat tastes. Resting can even be for a few hours. This means you can start roasting at lunch time (if you're serving for dinner). Just allocate around 40 minutes before serving, so you can preheat the oven for 30 minutes and sear for another eight minutes.


Oh, if you have guests who do not like to see pink meat, have a cast iron skillet handy for browning. Otherwise, offer them the chicken.

Last tip: if there's any meat left, wrap the leftover roast in cling wrap and store in the chiller so that you can make fantastic cold roast beef sandwiches for the rest of the week.

If all of this is too much for you, then give us a call and order the slab of Prime Rib at least 10 days in advance. We can roast at Elbert’s Steak Room in Makati or Elbert’s Sandwiches in Alabang.

Elbert's Steak Room, 3/F Saguittarius Building III, 111 H.V. de la Costa, Salcedo Village, Makati, 519.8665; Elbert's Sandwiches G/F The Commerce Center, Filinvest Avenue, Muntinlupa City, 519.5943.

A photo posted by ahortaleza (@ahortaleza) on

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