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The “Big Daddy” Of Christmas Dinners

The “Big Daddy” of Christmas Dinners

It’s that time of year again and the menu for Christmas Dinner is always one I struggle over. Should I go with the expected or do something different? Christmas is on Thursday this year and we don’t have a lot of time ahead of the holiday to do much prep work.

Since I always teach a class around Christmas featuring a full Christmas Dinner Menu, I feel the pressure to keep coming up with something “new.” The last two years on our table have featured different pork recipes. This year I decided to go back to the most traditional Christmas Dinner Recipe I could think of – Prime Rib.

I also think of Prime Rib, or if you prefer – Standing Rib Roast, as the “Big Daddy” of all beef cuts. If you don’t faint after you look at the price, then wrestle that hunk of beef into the cart and back to the kitchen. There are a lot of ways I’ve read to roast this cut, but this is my favorite. As a note: for the demonstration for the pictures, I am using a 1 bone cut – but the process works the same for a larger roast.

In this recipe, we are going to use a variety of herbs for flavor. We will make a “pocket” for the herbs and then roast it to perfection.

To get started, you’ll need your roast, herbs, cutting board, kitchen string and a very sharp knife.

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Our goal in this next step is to create the pocket for our herbs. To do this, you take your knife along the bone and slice down the surface of the bones. Stop about 1 inch from the bottom which creates the pocket we want. Next you take the herbs (sage, oregano, rosemary and tarragon) and some garlic and put it into the pocket. If you don’t like cutting and chopping herbs, then this recipe is for you – we are going to put the herbs into the pocket whole.

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Once you have everything in the pocket, pull the bones and the roast back together and using the kitchen string, tie the roast back together to hold everything in place.

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Wow! Now we are ready for the oven. Put the roast into your roasting pan and let it sit for 45 minutes to an hour. The challenge with cooking a large hunk of meat like this is that cooking only by time can be very inconsistent depending on the oven, pan, meat, etc. Whenever I cook a roast, I like to cook by temperature.

I have a thermometer with a probe, a long cable and a display that sits outside of the oven. I place the tip of the thermometer probe in about the center of the meat (but not touching any bones). When you put the roasting pan in the oven, you close the oven door around the long flexible metal cable and the timer unit showing the temperature sits on the counter next to the oven.

To figure out where the center of the meat is going to be, I put the probe on top of the meat and figure out where I want the tip. I grip the probe at the edge of the meat, then I insert the probe until I touch the edge of the meat and the probe is where I want it.

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With the probe in place, I can roast it until the internal temperature reaches where I like it. On a smaller roast like this, you can take it a little higher – if you are cooking a large roast, by the time the center reaches medium rare, the edges will be fairly well done. If you like it that way, great – however, I like mine pretty rare. On a small roast, I would remove it when the center gets to between 130 and 135 degrees. On a larger roast, I would remove it from the oven at about 125 degrees. A 6-8 bone roast will generally be 8 to 10 inches across.

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When it comes out of the oven, you want to cover it with foil and let it rest for 10-15 minutes (20 minutes for a larger roast). During this rest, the internal temperature will continue to rise and can go up as much as 10 degrees depending on the size of the roast. I’m aiming for a final temperature in the center of about 135 degrees for rare  to medium rare.

By precutting along the bones, we make the serving of the roast much easier. Start by cutting off the strings. Take your knife back into the pocket and cut the bones away from the roast. Now remove the herbs and garlic (they’ve done their job). You can easily slice the roast into servings for everyone. In the case of this small roast, I simply cut it in half.

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All that’s left to do now is sit down and enjoy your Christmas Dinner. Of course, if you’ve splurged on a “Big Daddy” roast, a nice bottle of wine is in order (if you like wine that is). I asked my personal wine consultant – Annette at the Wine Cellar for her suggestions of what to serve with this roast. Here are her recommendations:
Budget Range – 2012 Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon – $14.99
Middle Range – 2010 Trefethren Cabernet Sauvignon – $35.99
Higher Range – 2010 Keenan Napa Cabernet Sauvignon – $50.99

Here’s wishing you and your family a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Herb Stuffed Prime Rib
Recipe: (Serves 8)

Ingredients:
1 Each Prime Rib – 8 to 10 pounds
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 bunch fresh sage, washed and stems trimmed
1/2 bunch fresh oregano, washed and stems trimmed
1 bunch fresh rosemary, washed and stems trimmed
1/2 bunch fresh tarragon, washed and stems trimmed
Salt and Pepper

Instructions:
With a sharp knife, cut rib meat from the bones leaving 1 inch connected to the bones to form a pocket. Place garlic and herbs evenly in the pocket between the rib bones and the meat. Tie the meat to the bones with kitchen string.

Before roasting, let the roast stand at room temperature for 45 minutes to an hour before cooking.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and put a rack just below the middle of the oven. Sprinkle the roast with salt and pepper. Place the roast on a rack in a roasting pan. Add 1/4 inch of water to the bottom of the pan. Place roasting pan into the middle of the oven and roast for 25 minutes. Reduce oven to 375 degrees and cook for an additional 50 minutes. Reduce the oven to 350 degrees for the remainder of the time.

During the cooking, keep adding water to the roasting pan. This will help create steam and helps the herbs penetrate the meat and protect the roasting pan from high heat.

If using the remote thermometer, roast until the internal temperature reaches the desired setting. For reference, you can estimate about 25 minutes per pound, but this will vary depending on a lot of factors. If not using the remote thermometer, begin checking the internal temperature after about 2 1/2 hours.

Continue to roast until the center temperature reaches the desired number. For medium rare – 125 degrees, for medium – 130 degree. When the roast reaches the desired temperature, remove the roast from the oven and cover with aluminum foil. Allow the roast to rest for 20 minutes before carving. If you are using the remote thermometer, do not remove the probe – you can watch the internal temperature continue to climb during the resting period. After about 10 degrees of rise, the roast is ready to slice.

To serve, cut and remove the kitchen string. With the knife, cut the bottom of the pocket to separate the rib bones from the meat. Remove the herbs and garlic. Slice the roast to serve.

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