In our first year of marriage, my wife and I celebrated both Thanksgiving and Christmas with her family at her parents’ house. I’m not complaining – my kids are grown with families of their own, and I relished the opportunity to grow closer to my wife’s parents and kids. But through all of the merriment and cheer that always fills the household that time of year, one thing did stick out to me as strange – we had turkey for Christmas dinner. Turkey! The very thing we had just four weeks earlier on Thanksgiving, we were having again on Christmas. Turkey, which even at its best is, in my humble opinion, the least among Thanksgiving dishes. What were we doing having turkey again? I’ll be honest, I was done with it.
Fast forward a year, and I decided it was time for a little change. We had just moved into our new house and my wife and I were hosting Christmas this time around. So I humbly (I am a very humble guy, I’ll have you know) suggested to the boss (ie “da wife”) that perhaps this year we shake things up a little bit. It took some persuading, but in the end I got the go ahead – I was making prime rib.
I LOVE prime rib. It’s just about everything you want out of a beef dish. It is tender and buttery, with a crisp and blackened crust that appeals to the more “well done” sensibilities in the room. The marbled interior is just packed with flavor, dripping juices that bring extra life to the sides on my plate. I honestly can’t get enough of it.
But prime rib is tricky. It’s no walk in the park to cook, and it doesn’t take much to ruin the dish. Undercook it, and you’ll have a chewy, stringy mess – overcook it, and you’ll have a bland, dry slab of meat. But never fear, faithful reader – I’m going to share with you just how I prepare and cook my prime rib to absolute perfection.
BUYING YOUR PRIME RIB
As with many things in this life, you get what you pay for. Many stores don’t sell high quality cuts of prime rib, so I would highly recommend finding a local, trustworthy butcher who sources their beef from responsible, ethical ranches. Prime-grade beef is ideal, but choice grade will work as well – just ask the butcher what they have. Look for a prime rib roast with an untrimmed fat cap, ideally about a half an inch thick. If possible, buy a prime rib that still has it’s bones. The world won’t end if you can’t find one, but tying your ribs to the meat will, in my experience, give you a more even roast. A four bone prime rib should be sufficient for eight to ten people.
This is a controversial opinion, but it is sacrilege in my household to have prime rib without a good, spicy horseradish. I can’t get enough of the stuff, and it wouldn’t be a true Jankoski prime rib recipe without it. The horseradish sauce can be prepared two days in advance – the flavors deepen as they sit. If you prefer a milder sauce, feel free to dial it back on the amount of actual horseradish included, or get a milder prepared horseradish. But if you’re anything like me, I think you’ll love the kick it gives to the prime rib!
DON’T SKIP THESE STEPS!
You’ve gone all out and gotten a beautiful prime rib to share with your family at Christmas – don’t make the mistake of skipping these two steps for time. You will notice a difference and you will be disappointed!
- Overnight salting may be the most important step for prime rib. Some people will fight that the resting step is more important, and they have a point, but I’m personally of a mind that this is more important: Rub a high quality salt all over the meat the day before you want to cook it, leaving it in the refrigerator uncovered overnight. This really draws out flavor while simultaneously breaking down some of the proteins, really helping to create a tender, juicy roast.
- You HAVE to let this baby rest. This is probably the biggest mistake I see people make in preparing any kind of beef. Heat will drive juice towards the center of the meat, so if you cut into it too early, the juice will run out and you’ll have a tough, flavorless cut. Loosely tenting the prime rib with foil and allowing it to rest for 20-30 minutes will allow those juices a chance to redistribute themselves.
I really believe that the best gift we give our family each year is the meal. The stories and jokes we tell as we enjoy Christmas dinner might be my favorite part of the holiday, and having delicious food to share with my loved ones brings me so much joy. I hope you get as much pleasure preparing, cooking, and of course, eating, this prime rib as I do year after year. Remember to take your time and enjoy the process. I wish you and all of yours a very Merry Christmas.
- 7 POUND STANDING RIB ROAST (PRIME RIB)
- 2 LARGE TABLESPOONS OF KOSHER SALT
- 1 ½ TEASPOONS BLACK PEPPER
- 4 TABLESPOONS UNSALTED BUTTER
- Using a very sharp knife, cut slits in the outer surface layer of fat about 1 inch apart and criss crossed. Don’t cut into the meat.
- Gently slice down through the meat, following the bones to remove them from the meat from the bones. Remember- for best results don’t get rid of the bones!
- Rub 2 heaping tablespoons of salt over the entire roast, rub into the slits
- Place the meat back on bones and onto a plate.
- Refrigerate the meat uncovered for at least 24 hours (or up to 4 days)
- Place the meat on the counter to rest for 2-3 hours, bringing it to room temperature when you are ready to cook.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
- Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat until smoking (iron skillets work great)
- Sear the sides and top of the roast, but not the bottom edge where bones were removed. Place the meat back on the bones so that they fit where they were cut, and let cool for 10 minutes or until you can comfortably touch it. Tie meat to the bones with 2 pieces of kitchen twine (in a bind I have used flavorless dental floss).
- Transfer the roast, fat side up, to a wire rack in a roasting pan.
- Roast the meat until it’s internal temperature registers 120 degrees, somewhere between 3 ½ and 4 ½ hours.
- Turn off the oven, leaving the roast inside. Open the oven door as little as possible (this seems to be important and has been passed down to me from family members), allowing the meat to continue cooking to your desired temperature:
- 120 degrees for rare, 125 for medium rare
- 135-140 for medium, 140-145 for well done.
- Remove roast from oven and tent loosely with aluminum foil, allowing to rest for at least 30 minutes but not more than an hour
- Adjust the oven rack about 8 inches from broiler element and turn oven to broil. Remove foil from the roast. Broil until top of roast is well browned and crisp, 2-8 minutes.
- Transfer roast to carving board. Cut twine and remove roast from ribs.
- Slice meat into ¾ inch thick slices. Season to taste and don’t leave behind the drippings (make au ju or gravy!)
- 1 16-OUNCE CONTAINER SOUR CREAM
- 1 TABLESPOON EXTRA-HOT PREPARED WHITE HORSERADISH
- 1 TABLESPOON FRESH LEMON JUICE
- 1 TEASPOON SALT
- 1 TEASPOON FRESH GROUND BLACK PEPPER
- ½ TEASPOON HOT PEPPER SAUCE
- ½ TEASPOON WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE
- Whisk all ingredients into a medium bowl. Cover tightly. Re-wisk before using.