Prime rib is a new tradition for us at Christmas.  When I was growing up and until very, very recently, we always had turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  You may find that surprising given that I grew up in Texas surrounded by all those ranches that produced outstanding beef, but most families I knew still roasted a turkey for the holidays.  But now I like to mix our traditions with new ones, so I have been venturing out and including prime rib on the menu either during the holidays.  Here is how I make an easy herb and black pepper crusted prime rib.

The first step is to set your prime rib out to come to room temperature.  You will need to allow at least 2 hours for this step.  While you are waiting, it is time to get the herb and black pepper rub ready.  Start with fresh rosemary and thyme.  For the 4-rib roast in the photo below, I used 1 to 2 tablespoons of salt and pepper and 2 to 3 tablespoons each of chopped rosemary and thyme.

Mix the herbs, salt and pepper together and then added enough olive oil to form a wet paste.

Now for the messy fun part! 🙂  Carefully slice the bones away from the main roast but leave them attached on one side.  Then using kitchen string, tie the bones back onto the main part of the roast.  The bones will form a nice rack for roasting the prime rib and will add moisture and flavor, but they will be easy to remove when you ready to slice the prime rib.  Then slather the herb, salt and pepper mixture all over the prime rib.

Make sure to get some of the mixture on each end too.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.  Place the prime rib on a roasting rack with the rib side down.  Roast the prime rib for 15 minutes at 500 degrees F.  Then turn the oven down to 325 degrees F and roast the prime rib until it is the desired doneness.  This will give the prime rib a nice sear on the outside while keeping the inside juicy.  The cooking time at 325 degrees F will be about 12-15 minutes per pound depending on the doneness desired, but you will want to start checking the prime rib early to make sure not to overcook it!  You can always cook it more, but you can’t un-cook it!

You will definitely want to use a meat thermometer to check the doneness.  To check the temperature, stick the thermometer into the center of the prime rib.  Make sure it is not touching the bones.  While not everyone agrees on what temperature represents what doneness, here is a handy chart you can use for a guideline.  Remember that when you remove the prime rib from the oven, it will continue cooking and the temperature will continue to rise.  It will rise at least 5 degrees as you let it rest for 20-30 minutes, so you will want to remove it from the oven when it is a few degrees below the desired doneness.

Rare—120-125 degrees F (Remove at 120 degrees F)

Medium Rare—130-135 degrees F (Remove at 125 to 130 degrees F)

Medium—135-140 degrees F (Remove at 135 degrees F)

Medium Well—145-150 degrees F (Remove at 145 degrees F)

Well—155+ degrees F (not recommended—the ends of the roast will be too done)

Also, remember that the prime rib will be more done at each end and gradually rarer as you move toward the center.  Therefore, most people aim for rare or medium rare in the center.

After you take the prime rib out of the oven, be sure to let it rest about 30 minutes so that the juices will redistribute throughout it and not be lost on the cutting board.  Tent it with foil to keep the heat in while it rests.

Then cut off the strings and cut away the bones.  You are now ready to slice and serve your gorgeous prime rib!  But save the bones either for a nice snack or for flavoring soup.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!


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