2 quarts loosely packed hay*
6 cups kosher salt (about 2 boxes)
4 cups egg whites (or carton of pasteurized egg whites)
1 cup water
Seared prime rib
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Place kosher salt in one very large bowl – or split it between two large bowls, if you don’t have a bowl that’s big enough to accommodate all the salt with room to spare.
Gather half of the hay in a large metal bowl. Snip with scissors into 3-inch long pieces. Turn on the exhaust fan over your stovetop and open up nearby windows to avoid setting off smoke alarms. Ignite hay with a small kitchen torch, letting small flames develop around the perimeter of the bowl. After 1 to 2 minutes, when smoke has developed, cover the bowl with tin foil or a small baking sheet or put out with metal tongs until the flames have died.
Add burnt hay to the salt-filled bowl (or bowls) and stir to evenly mix in.
Add egg whites and water and stir to mix.
Line two baking dishes with an even layer of ¾-inch to 1-inch thick salt mixture. Press the salt flat. Add ½ of the remaining hay in a flat layer on top of the salt mix. Torch the hay, let it burn for 30 seconds and then place the seared prime ribs on top to put it out.
Cover the prime ribs with the rest of the hay and torch that. Let that burn for 20 seconds and then carefully cover the steaks with the rest of the salt mix so that there’s an even layer of approximately ¾-inch to 1-inch thick salt mixture surrounding the single, 2 pound prime rib. Press the salt mix around the meat to form two salt crusts. Use a skewer to create a small hole in the top center of the crust over each prime rib. This will be where you insert the meat thermometer to check for doneness.
Place the baking dish into the oven and roast at 425°F for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 325°F and continue roasting for 20 minutes to 1 hour and begin taking the temperature after 20 minutes. Continue checking every 10 minutes until the thermometer reads 120°F. Remove from the oven once the internal temperature reaches 120°F. Note: the time will vary depending on the size of the prime rib, the baking dish and the thickness of the salt crust. A digital thermometer is essential to tell when the meat is done. Once it is resting on your counter, it will continute to cook to the perfect doneness.
Let rest for at least 15 minutes. Use a butter knife to cut the meat out of the salt crust – you don’t want to damage your chef’s knife by cutting through the salt. Brush off all salt and little pieces of hay. Slice meat off of bone and serve with vinaigrette.