A Perfectly Pink “Prime” Rib-Roast

WHO ELSE is planning to serve “prime” rib for Christmas or New Year’s dinner? I tried out a new (to me) cooking technique on a five-pound rib-roast the other day, and can tell you the results were melt-in-your-mouth spectacular!

If your supermarket offers an honest-to-goodness “prime” rib roast — most don’t — go ahead and buy it (if you can afford it). Otherwise, purchase a “Choice” cut from the small end of the rib. According to my butcher, the small end is of higher quality than the large end.

Prime or not, a rib roast ain’t cheap. I paid $33.16 for the five-pound roast pictured here. And this morning, I spent over $50 for the eight-pound roast I’ll serve for Christmas.

My butcher routinely removes the bones from rib roasts. Then he reattaches them with string. This way, the bones can contribute flavor during cooking. But they can be easily removed at serving time (just cut the strings) for easy carving. Clever!

Make no mistake — the easiest way to ruin a rib roast is to overcook it.  Consequently it pays to have an instant-read thermometer, and preferably one that can stay in the meat as it roasts. I purchased such a gadget for $25, and I really like it. For I can see exactly how things are progressing without opening the oven door.

As for cooking, I love the “low-and-slow” method described by Kenji over at Serious Eats.  The beef is cooked in a 200°F. oven until it reaches an temperature of 120°F. Then, after a 20 minute rest, the meat is briefly caramelized in a very hot oven.

The method:

First, rub the subject all over with kosher salt and grinds of black pepper. You could use additional flavorings — rosemary and garlic come to mind — but these “extras” are not necessary. As many professional chefs will tell you, an expensive cut of beef should “speak for itself.”

I made cross-hatch cuts in the top fat, thinking this would help the beef absorb the seasonings. But when cooked at a low temperature, I don’t think the cuts are necessary. I won’t be making them for my large Christmas roast.

Next, place the beef in a casserole dish or a shallow roasting pan. A rack is not necessary, because there won’t be any substantial pan-drippings. The fat and juice will stay where they belong — in the beef!

No shallow roasting pan or casserole dish for you? Then do what I did, and use a deep roasting pan with a rack.  To raise up the rack (and thus to permit air-flow around the meat),  set the rack on crumpled sheets of aluminum foil.

Insert the temperature-probe in the center of the roast.  Push the probe down deeply — it should be half-buried in the meat.

Yes, I realize that my thermometer isn’t properly centered in the above photograph. I repositioned the probe a moment later, and then — because I’m a blonde — I forgot to take a second picture.

Program the instant-read gadget to sound an alarm at 120°F. Then place the pan on the lower-middle rack of a preheated 200°F oven.

As a rule of thumb, plan 30 minutes per pound for the beef to reach the desired temperature.

Ding! When the roast reaches 120°F., pull it out of the oven, and remove the temperature probe.

Then cover the roast with aluminum foil, and let it rest for 20 minutes or longer. If you are happy with the look of the fat, you need do nothing more than carve the meat.

Otherwise, brown the fat: Preheat the oven to 500°F. Remove the foil covering, and return the roast to the oven for 5-10 minutes. The fat and the outside flesh can brown rapidly, so keep an eye on things.

Whether you do the final high-temp “searing” or not, your rib roast will be cooked to perfection. By “perfection,” I mean the roast will be pink throughout (mine was even pink-er in the middle — just what the “rare” crowd wants), and so incredibly-tender you can eat it with a spoon.

My partner and I enjoyed this roast with boiled baby potatoes and steamed Brussels sprouts the other night.

Need a sauce to accompany the meat? You can’t go wrong with horseradish. My recipe for this sauce is extremely complicated:

Buy a bottle of Woeber’s Horseradish sauce…

And pour it into a small, attractive bowl.

I make no apologies for serving Woeber’s horseradish sauce. It’s better than any home-made version I’ve tried.

Let me know if the above roasting advice was helpful to you. Meanwhile…Merry Christmas (and Happy New Year)!

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Related Posts:
Dreamy Cinnamon Rolls
Holiday Recipe Roundup: Sexy Sides
Kevin’s Caramelized Butternut Squash Soup


  1. Perfect timing, I’m making a prime rib roast along with half a goose for our family Christmas dinner this weekend.

  2. Thank you Kevin! I’ll do this for New Years.

  3. Hi Kevin
    The secret to horseradish is to dig it in the middle of December or January when you have a thaw and you can get a fork in the garden. (Frozen fingers.) Select the best roots for grinding, replant the rest. Then use a vegetable peeler to peel the roots, chop slightly and grind in a meat grinder. It will be pungent and strong. You will weep and cry. It is worth it. Mix in some white vinegar. It keeps in the fridge and the freezer.

    Then you will make a bloody mary (don’t forget the dilly bean).

  4. This is the best recipe-perfect!

  5. Dear Kevin, Long ago, I gave up on even trying to prepare rib roasts because no matter what I did they turned out either shoe-leather tough or a tasteless and dry waste of money. With your technique, I am very tempted to try one more time. Thank you, Dear Friend that I’ve never met.
    Wishing you and yours a very happy, prosperous and healthy New Year.

  6. Carolyn Yost says:

    I did a similar recipe, oven temperature 225 degrees, when the roast reached 220 I tented it with aluminum wrap for 1 hour while making Yorkshire pudding, then returned the oven to 525 and put the roast in. Perfect, fork tender, pink throughout and no bleeding, the juices stayed in the meat. I bought extra fat for the Yorkshire pudding and to make a gravy and rendered that.

    Thank you for all your thoughts and suggestions from the past year and I’m looking forward to your recipe book in the new year. The best to you and yours!

  7. I did a trial run too with that recipe with a 5lb. roast, and it didn’t work for us. It was too bloody. I
    For Christmas Eve I had a 5 rib roast and did 450 for 30 minutes, then 300 til it hit 125. Perfect.!

  8. We cooked a 5 lb bone in prime rib on the grill ( no gas grill for us on the warm florida gulf coast).. We followed your S & P & Garlic & Rosemary….. …2.5 hrs. then the horseradish jumped out of our fridge & we whipped it with heavy cream. Mr. Skip slices slivers of any cheese in ceramic bowls sprays the outside with oil spray( better clean us for me). Sets it on the rack and covers the grill with all that smoked flavor for about 20 mins. … Smoked cheese is heavenly. very nummy……..

    our Old Beagle, Finn & his two assistants Molly the Min Pin & Spike the fuzzy wonder dog’s eyes never left the kitchen floor or our outside kitchen or inside kitchen.

    Happy New year Mr. Kevin ….thanks so much for all the loads of energy you put into your blog, facebook page & website. Its my favorite. Your house looks divine!.

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