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The Weekend Chef

Weekend Chef: Christmas Rib Roast

Posted 2:44pm on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013

I normally fix my traditional brisket for Christmas, but by chance I lucked into a 10-pound prime rib roast. Before I go into the tale of my good fortune, I need to explain the difference between a rib roast and a prime rib roast.

The two roasts are basically the same cut of meat, the rib-eye, which is cut as a roast instead of steaks. The only differences is that that a prime rib roast has the top USDA rating of prime, and a rib roast usually are all grades below that. To make matters more confusing, rib roast are often called prime rib, which is the generic name of the preparation of a rib roast served as a roast instead of rib-eye steaks. Confused?

So when you order prime rib at a restaurant, it is probably not a USDA prime graded piece of meat, unless they actually call it a prime rib roast, or mention that it is graded prime in the description. So, why is this important? Only the top 5% of meat is graded prime, so a prime graded rib roast is very expensive compared to just a rib roast.

Now, to the story of my good fortune.

Most of the grocery stores have rib roast on sale right now for the holidays, so a friend of mine decided to order one. When she ordered the roast, she asked for prime rib, the butcher asked her how many bones and she guessed 4, thinking she would have around a 5 pound (on sale) rib roast. When she picked it up it turned out that 4 bones was 10 pounds on this roast, plus it was a prime rib roast that ended up costing $197! Taking things in stride, my friend decided to throw a small dinner party and invited my wife and myself. After hearing the story I volunteered to cook the roast and prepare some sides. I mean, it is not every day you get to play with a $200 piece of meat!

So here are some tips and a recipe for preparing a rib roast (or prime rib roast if you are lucky).

Rib Roast Tips

Be sure to have a good meat thermometer! Rib roast are expensive, so you need to make sure you don’t overcook your roast.

Try to buy a choice or prime grade rib roast. A prime rib roast is best, but can be very expensive. I normally try to find a choice rib roast with lots of marbling.

How big a roast? The rule of thumb for rib roast is for each bone you can add two people, so a three bone rib roast feeds 6 people.

Beef Rib Roast


1 Bone-in rib roast (check tips above for size).

¼ cup olive oil

Salt & pepper or your favorite steak rub

Horseradish cream sauce (Store bought or recipe below)

Cooking directions:

Let the roast come to room temperature and then preheat grill or oven to roast at 250 to 275ºF, if using a grill be sure to use indirect heat.

Before seasoning (optional), I like to brown the roast. Thomas Kellers's ad hoc at home cookbook uses a blowtorch to start the browning process of a rib roast before slow roasting it to get that caramelized surface and medium rare meat that extends to the edge. I have a blowtorch so that is what I will do (blowtorch's run around $20 to $30 at your hardware store or your commercial kitchen supply store like Ace Mart). If you don't have a blowtorch you can use a hot pan to brown all the sides of the roast.

After browning rub with olive oil, then generously salt and pepper all sides of the roast, or use your favorite steak rub. I am using Obie-Cues Steakmaker, a local steak rub along with some course ground steak seasonings.

Place rib roast rib side down in roasting pan and grill on indirect heat or in a oven.

Slow roast until the roast reaches 125 to 130ºF for medium rare, 135 to 140ºF for medium. This should take 2 to 3 hours.

Let roast rest for 20 to 30 minutes tented in aluminum foil.

Slice and serve.

Horseradish cream sauce


1 cup heavy cream.

1 4 oz. container of prepared horseradish

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking directions:

Put cream and lemon juice in bowl and whisk till thick.

Add prepared horseradish, whisk, then salt and pepper to taste.

The prime rib roast was great! It better be for around $200. I am just glad I did not mess it up. The sides and desert turned out great too. I fixed a fennel salad, roasted vegetables and some poached pears. The pears were almost as big a hit as the roast, so I will do a post on that here soon! Be sure to check out the slideshow above for step-by-step pictures.

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