This year for our Christmas Eve dinner, Russ combined two prime rib recipes, one from Cooks Illustrated, Perfect Prime Rib; and the other for it’s crown of herbs and spices from Fine Cooking, Slow-Roasted Prime Rib. Prior to cooking, we had the butcher cut the meat off the bone and then tie it back onto the ribs. This way it cooks as a “bone-in” roast, and is a real treat for those who like to chew the flavorful bones afterward.
Surprisingly, the Cooks Illustrated perfect prime rib recipe turned out to be one cooked in a 250-degree oven, which eliminates the gray banding. Unlike roasts that cook at higher temperatures, this one was rosy pink from the surface to the center and was so juicy and tender. By searing the meat on top of the stove before low-roasting it, you achieve a gorgeous browned and crusty exterior.
A luxurious centerpiece for a holiday menu, this three-bone prime-rib roast gets heaped with a big pile of smashed garlic, butter, and fresh herbs, then slow-cooked in a low oven for at least two hours, until the meat becomes meltingly tender, and the herbs and garlic infuse it through and through. Our roast took 25 minutes per pound to reach 125 degrees. Keep in mind, the temp will rise another 5-10 degrees or so as it rests under the foil tent.
Be sure to tie the prime rib two to three times between the rib bones or the outer layer of the meat pulls away from the rib-eye muscle, causing the roast to look unattractive. And since this is the star of the show, you wouldn’t want that to happen, would you?
- 3-bone beef rib roast (about 7 lb.), preferably from the small or loin end and Prime grade
- 3 Tbs. fleur de sel or other flaky sea salt
- 1-1/2 Tbs. coarsely cracked black pepper
- 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 to 10 sprigs rosemary
- 8 to 10 sprigs thyme
- 10 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- Place the roast, uncovered, on a rack in the refrigerator over night—this helps to dry age the beef.
- Take the beef out of the refrigerator 3 hours before cooking so it can come to room temperature.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat oven to 325ºF.
- Turn on the exhaust fan. Heat a 12-inch skillet over high heat for 1 minute. Swirl in the olive oil and, when the oil puts off its first wisp of smoke, place the beef in the pan, and sear it on all the outer sides (not the cut sides) until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes total.
- Use a set of tongs to flip the beef; be careful of splattering oil. With two sets of tongs, transfer the beef, bone side down, to a roasting rack set in a small roasting pan. Season the meat on all sides with the fleur de sel and cracked black pepper. Arrange the rosemary, thyme, garlic, and butter evenly on top.
- Roast the beef, basting every 30 minutes with a bulb baster, until a thermometer inserted into the center reads 120º to 125ºF for rare, about 2 hours. Cook to 130º to 135ºF for medium-rare (about 2-1/4 hours), 140º to 145ºF for medium (about 2-1/2 hours). Let the meat rest 20 minutes before carving (a bit longer is fine.)