A Wonderful Classic – The Prime Rib Roast

Rib roast

     Mention Thanksgiving and the turkey with all the fixins immediately comes to mind. Depending on which historian you read, the turkey may or may not have been served at the first Thanksgiving meal. Many think the meat served was probably venison along with seafood and waterfowl. If there was turkey, it probably was wild turkey and not a domestic variety. Whatever they ate there seems to be clear consensus the first Thanksgiving involved serving plenty of meat.

Give The Gobbler A Break This Year

     I sometimes decide to give the iconic turkey a break and to serve something else. I have lots of choices, but I think the logical choice is a prime rib roast. It’s an apt replacement, and it still requires a ceremonial carving.

     Preparing and serving a prime rib roast is always an event. Its regal presence on a table makes the occasion special, and its aroma can get my digestive juices flowing faster than any other food. It’s also interesting to watch our guests catch the first whiff of what’s in the oven. When they realize its prime rib, their excitement is almost palpable.

    As human beings, we seem to love meat. Our long history of the way we’ve consumed our eatables goes all of the way back to the caveman’s diet of meat and plants. As a result, I think we human beings have a general tendency to be carnivores (who eat meat) or omnivores (who eat meat and plants). We can also choose or not choose to be herbivores (who eat plants), frugivores (who eat fruit), pescatarians (who eat fish), vegetarians (who eat vegetables), Rotarians (who will eat anything), and librarians (who devour books). 

To Eat Meat Or Not To Eat Meat? That Is The Question

     Socially being a carnivore has become controversial. The argument is basically split into two camps: those who think this is not a problem and those who find that this practice of eating meat offends their moral sensibilities. But I have to admit my personal considerations basically go out the window when I’m hovering over a beautiful prime rib roast armed with a carving knife and fork. I start to ceremoniously slice generous portions from this huge chunk of meat, and once again my self-indulgence and lack of serious concern prevails. I guess I’ve always found it hard to exercise any kind of compassion for the sacrifice of these poor unfortunates when I’m drooling. 

     I’ve decided at this stage of my life for me the argument is moot.  I’m probably not going to change, so I may as well give my most recent carnivorous endeavor my best shot. I’ll purchase the best quality rib roast available, and I’ll use my great time-tested recipe to prepare this culinary classic. At the table I probably won’t even give it a second thought if this is right or wrong. I’ll be totally swept up in the event, and I’ll enjoy every bite.

Top Of The Food Chain

     Will we as a society ever reach consensus and stop eating meat? Some think so, but I doubt it. From a broader perspective, what we cook isn’t the only issue of conscience here. It’s much more complicated than that. We can talk about business, nationalism, money, sports, religion, or something as silly as politics, but I think as a society we’ll always operate under “the law of the jungle.” It’s “survival of the fittest,” “dog eat dog,” “kill or be killed,” and “eat or be eaten.” It’s the way were, and it’s just the way we are. It’s every critter for himself.

Buying And Trimming

When ordering the rib roast from the butcher, be sure to request a “top choice” roast cut from the small loin end, the best being ribs 12 through 10. The prime rib roast is cut from the loins that lie on each side of the animals spine from ribs six through twelve. Have the butcher chine the backbone so the cut includes all or part of it.  Having the roast attached to bone I think imparts a much better flavor. For a classic look the rib bones look best if they are shortened and Frenched. Have the butcher do this for you as well.

     For a generous serving, figure on two people per rib. See the suggested size of the roast respective to the number of people you will be serving in the table below.

     Start the rib roast cooking at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn oven down to 325 degrees and cook according to size/serving chart below (times are approximate):

  • for six (6) people – three (3) rib roast (7-8 lbs.)  Cook at 325 degrees for another  1.5 hours.
  • for eight (8) people – four (4) rib roast (9-10 lbs.)  Cook at 325 degrees for another  2 hours.
  • for ten (10) people – five (5) rib roast (11-13 lbs.)  Cook at 325 degrees for another  2.5 hours.
  • for twelve (12) people – six (6) rib roast (14-16 lbs.)  Cook at 325 degrees for another  3 hours.
  • for fourteen (14) people – seven (7) rib roast (16-18 lbs.)  Cook at 325 degrees for another  3.5 hours.

Goal: Internal temperature for medium-rare is 120 degrees. It will cook on up to about 130 degrees after it is taken out of the oven. The roast will need to rest for at least 20 minutes so the juices can seal and flavors to permeate.

Special Culinary Equipment: Roaster with Rack, Skillet, Meat thermometer, Beef demi-glace (Williams and Sonoma)

Classic Standing Rib Roast

yields: Depends on size prep time: 15 Minutes cook time: See chart
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For Each 6 lbs. of meat 5 cloves 1/4 cup To taste To taste 1/8 cup 1/4 cup 1/2 cup 2 cups 1 cup 2 Tbsp 1/2 stick 4 oz. 1 1/2 cups 3 Tbsp 1/2 tsp 1/2 tsp To taste To taste
Do calculation and note. Garlic minced and pressed Horseradish sauce Rosemary fresh Thyme fresh Kosher salt Pepper freshly ground EVOO Broth beef Wine red Demi-glace beef Butter Cognac Cream sour Horseradish white Worchestershire sauce Lemon juice Tobasco sauce Salt and pepper
  • For Each 6 lbs. of meat
    Do calculation and note.
  • 5 cloves
    Garlic minced and pressed
  • 1/4 cup
    Horseradish sauce
  • To taste
    Rosemary fresh
  • To taste
    Thyme fresh
  • 1/8 cup
    Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup
    Pepper freshly ground
  • 1/2 cup
  • 2 cups
    Broth beef
  • 1 cup
    Wine red
  • 2 Tbsp
    Demi-glace beef
  • 1/2 stick
  • 4 oz.
  • 1 1/2 cups
    Cream sour
  • 3 Tbsp
    Horseradish white
  • 1/2 tsp
    Worchestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp
    Lemon juice
  • To taste
    Tobasco sauce
  • To taste
    Salt and pepper


The ingredients listed below are for a 7-8 lb. roast which should serve six people. If the roast is larger, adjust accordingly.



Time: The evening before

  1. Make a paste using seven ingredients (cloves through EVOO).

  2. Massage paste over entire roast. Wrap in plastic wrap. Put in refrigerator.

Time: 1 Hour prior to cook start

  1. Remove roast from refrigerator and set on counter.

  2. Place the roast in a roasting pan with rack.

Time: Refer to table for times and temperatures

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove plastic wrap from roast, and cook for 15 minutes.

  2. Turn heat down to 325 minutes and continue roasting again referring to the table for cooking times and temperatures.

  3. Baste the ends of the roast with the drippings every 30 minutes or so.

  4. About 30 minutes before the expected end of the roasting time insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat, not touching the fat or bone. When it reaches 120 degrees, pull it out of the oven. Cover with foil and let it sit for twenty to thirty minutes. It will continue to cook during this time, reaching a temperature of about 125 degrees to 130degrees. This resting period allows the juices and flavors to permeate the roast.

Time: As the meat is resting

  1. Prepare sauce:

    In a saucepan add beef broth, wine, and demi-glace and reduce to about half over medium/high heat, and set aside.

  2. In a skillet, melt butter, add cognac and ignite. Add ingredients in saucepan and blend with whisk.

    Add flour if needed to thicken a bit.

  3. Pour into gravy bowl and serve with roast.

  4. For horseradish sauce whisk together the last six ingredients (sour cream through salt and pepper.

    Pour into small bowl with ladle, and pass at the table.

This is one of those classic dishes that can set your reputation as a great cook. Before hand read through the recipe very carefully and have all of your ingredients measured and poured ahead of time. With any luck at all you will have lots of leftovers.

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