Perfect Prime Rib

The perfect centerpiece for Christmas dinner will always be a spectacular prime rib of beef, surrounded by all the trimmings, and it’s easier to make than you might think!  With a minimum of preparation and a few trade secrets, your beautiful prime rib will be the delight of your family and guests.

Also called a standing rib roast, prime rib is available basically two ways:  on the bone and off the bone.  On the bone prime rib is the clear winner, not only because of its superior presentation, but because it allows for less risk of overcooking.  It is a little trickier to carve because of the bones, but these can be used later for the most delicious beef stock, which can be the basis for gravy for New Year’s Day dinner, just a week later.

The most important thing is to get the proper grade of meat.  Rib roasts are commonly available in Select grade, but for the holidays, spend a few extra dollars and get USDA Choice grade.  There are actually three sub-grades of Choice, depending on the marbling of the meat.  The more marbling, the higher the grade, the better the beef.  The best Choice meat is available at butcher shops if you’re lucky enough to have one nearby.  Rib roasts are also available in Prime grade, which is technically the only grade that is truly prime rib, but these are difficult to find and very expensive.  (Can't find Prime or Choice grade?  Get it here!)

The roast is the centerpiece of the dinner, so it is best not to hide it under too many spices or seasonings.  A quick and easy mixture of coarsely ground black pepper, garlic, and sea salt is the best compliment.  Use the garlic powder available in the spice section of the grocery store.  This is one time that fresh garlic is not best, because it will burn!  The salt will extract moisture from the skin and make the most succulent crunchy crust you can imagine.

If you’re not getting a whole roast, get the half from the large end if you can.  The large end has that nice outer lip of super-tender beef that is missing from the small end.  Plan on a little over one pound per person, because some weight will be lost with the ribs, and also it’s nice to have a juicy prime rib sandwich the next day!

Let’s get started: 

9 lb standing rib roast, choice grade

1 T coarse ground black pepper

1 T sea salt

1 T garlic granules


Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.  Mix the salt, garlic, and black pepper together in a small bowl.  Remove the roast from its wrapping, and place bone side down on a cutting board. Tying the beef 3 or 4 times parallel with the ribs with butcher twine will give a better presentation—have your butcher do this for you. 

Spread the spice mix as thickly as you can on the top fat layer of the beef, going as far down all the sides in all directions as you can.  Place roast in roasting pan, adding enough water to bring the level to three quarters of an inch.  Insert an oven thermometer into the center of the roast and place in the preheated oven. 

Cook uncovered until the thermometer reads 130 degrees, adding more water as necessary to keep pan from burning.  Plan on about 25 minutes per pound, so a 9 pound roast will need to cook for about 3.5 hours.

Remove roast from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.  If you try to carve it right out of the oven, the juices will run out and you’ll have dry meat.  During this resting time, the roast will actually increase in temperature another 10 degrees.  The outside slices will be well done, working down to medium rare in the center.  Garnish with fresh roasted veggies, serve on a beautiful platter, and carve at the table.