Christmas Magic

The magic here is not in the expediency of preparation, nor the low-cost of a standing rib roast, but rather the sumptuous final results of a fabulous meal that you will dream about long after Santa is back at the North Pole.

Enjoying some holiday cheer by the fireplace with sons David and Dan.

The guys are all enjoying a little holiday “nog.”

I first introduced you to chef Luke Thomas—Britain’s youngest head chef—in my Crispy Potato blog. Born in North Wales in 1993, Luke has committed himself to cooking since the tender age of 12—while most young lads only think about eating at that age!

He has appeared on a handful of television shows, including Junior MasterChef, Great British Menu, Russell Howard’s Good News and a BBC Three documentary entitled Britain’s Youngest Chef; plus has garnered a plethora of awards. With so many accolades, you just know his recipes will be worth the time and effort.

When he was 16, Thomas met grilling expert Adam Perry Lang and was inspired: “It was not only about a great piece of meat but how he prepared it before cooking and how he dressed it after.” Thomas has applied that lesson to this special roast, which he glazes with mustard before roasting, and then coats with a fresh-herb dressing after. (You can make the dressing early in the day or while the beef is roasting.)

Joining us for Christmas Eve dinner this year were Russ’s two sons Daniel and David, both self-avowed red meat fans. (Daughter Julia was down in Tennessee making new holiday traditions with her boyfriend Byron.) But before we got to the matter of preparing the main feast, one of the Hartman family traditions is serving Crème Brûlée French Toast for the holiday brunch, and one they continued this year.


Once the toast is turned over, you can see all of the ooey-gooeyness!

Brunch was certainly filling enough to satiate the crew until supper time. So after a lazy afternoon watching movies (or in my case, blogging), Dan helped us prep the vittles. Dinner had to start somewhere so why not with a Shrimp Cocktail with a sauce made from freshly grated horseradish. The guys even polished off the shrimp still in the frig!


Dan and dad bond over making the onion surround for the roast.

When done, these onions and shallots were exquisite! 

And because the philosophy for the Hartman’s on the holidays is a reprieve from any-and-all diets, to go with our decadent roast we had to have the calorie-busting Three-Cheese Potato Gratin by Molly Stevens—another family favorite. But Russ throws even more caution to the wind by doubling all of the cheese amounts!

The potato gratin needs to sit for a half hour before you dig into it.

As so often is the case, Russ starts fretting about the roast not coming to temperature on time, and this one was giving him a run for his money. The meat thermometer was still many degrees below 120 a half hour after it should have been done. So he started checking it with an instant read thermometer and was getting temps all over the place, in some cases too well done.

That did it, out the roast came and Russ was pretty sure it was going to be well-done, not a favored outcome in this household. We let it rest for the requisite half hour and when he sliced into it, we all rejoiced because it was a gorgeous medium-rare!

Perfectly medium-rare on the interior.

After some gift opening the guys all decided they found a little room to indulge in a dessert of eggnog ice cream and homemade cookies.


Luke Thomas’s Rib Roast with English Mustard and Fresh Herb Dressing



For the herb dressing
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup finely sliced fresh chives
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 small red chiles, such as Thai bird, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. red-wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. English mustard, such as Coleman’s
  • 1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. capers, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the roast
  • 1 4-bone standing beef rib roast (8 to 9 lb.)
  • 10 medium shallots, peeled and halved
  • 4 medium red onions, peeled and quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 12 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 6 Tbs. olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup English mustard, such as Coleman’s


img_9412All of the herb dressing ingredients are prepped and measured.

The dressing ingredients are combined in a bowl—the colors perfect for a Christmas meal.

Oil is whisked into the herb dressing to make a paste.

Make the herb dressing

In a medium bowl, combine the basil, chives, parsley, chiles, and garlic. Add the vinegar, mustard, and capers, and then whisk in the oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface, and refrigerate if not using within a few hours.

Roast the meat
  1. Season the meat with salt and pepper, place on a rack and refrigerate, uncovered for 24 hours. (We added this step.)
  2. Trim the fat on the meat to about 1/4 inch, if necessary. Let the meat sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
  3. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat to 425°F.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the shallots, onions, garlic, and rosemary with 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Season with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the mustard and 3 Tbs. of the oil.
  6. Rub the meat with the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and season all over with 2-1/2 tsp. salt and 1-1/2 tsp. pepper. Place bone side down in a large heavy-duty roasting pan and roast for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F, brush the meat with some of the mustard mixture, and scatter the onion mixture in the pan around the beef. Roast, brushing the meat with the mustard mixture every 20 minutes or so, until a thermometer inserted into the center of the meat reads 120°F to 125°F, 2 to 2-1/4 hours more. (The roast will continue to cook with carry-over heat.)
  7. Reserving the onion mixture in the roasting pan, transfer the roast to a carving board. Using your hands, generously coat the meat with about half of the herb dressing; reserve the rest. Tent with foil and let rest for 25 to 30 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, return the pan to the oven and continue roasting the onions and shallots until very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mixture to a serving bowl.
  9. To carve, remove the meat from the bones by running a long, thin carving knife between the eye of meat and the bones along the interior curve of the bones. Slice the meat into thick (1/2 to 3/4 inch) slices. Serve with the onion mixture, and pass the reserved dressing at the table.

img_9422The roast comes out of the frig after dry-aging uncovered for 24 hours.

img_9434After roasting for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, baste the meat with the mustard sauce.

The shallots, onions, garlic and rosemary go into the pan after basting the first time.

img_9447Once to temperature, let the roast rest for a half hour.

As soon as the roast comes out of the oven, spread some of the herb dressing all over it.

More of the herb dressing is spooned over the sliced beef and served alongside.

While Christmas is now over, I don’t want to wait a whole year before we enjoy this fabulous roast again, it was truly magic!

Roast recipe by Luke Thomas from Fine Cooking

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