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Christmas Rib Roast – Paleo & stunning

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The Christmas feast wouldn’t be the same without a knock-em-dead protein on the center of the table. You could choose a a ham, a turkey, or even a goose, if you’re channeling Dickens, but I’d recommend a rib roast.

Roast beef is our Christmas tradition, and this one is so beautiful, it’ll bring tears to your eyes. It’s a five-star stunner, and simplicity to make.

Here’s the short list of important things if you want to wow the company, and a longer recipe and video below:

1. Choose a great piece of meat, and choose it early (see step two.)

2. Allow for at least a week of dry-aging in the fridge.

3. Start the roast on high, and then drop the temperature down.

4. Use an internal thermometer to monitor, and pull the roast between 130 and 140 degrees. 130 for rare to medium rare, 135 to 140 for more medium.

5. Let the roast stand for at least a half-hour before carving (but an hour or more is even better.)


Step 1: Choose your rib roast

COST: Prepare yourself for the cost. I usually allot about $100 to $120 for the meat at Christmas, but I’m usually cooking more than one roast. You can go for grassfed and organic here, if that’s important to you, but be aware that grassfed beef is far leaner than standard supermarket beef, and it is more prone to overcooking and drying out because of the lower fat content. I’ve had good luck ordering roasts from Sam’s, and from Winn Dixie.

CUT: You’re looking for a standing rib roast. Also sometimes listed as a prime rib roast, or a beef ribeye roast. Talk to your butcher, and ask him or her to cut the rib bones away from the roast, and to tie them back on with twine. You want the bones, but you also want to be able to remove them for carving.

SIZE: Allow one rib for every two people. This is a generous amount, but it’s always better to have more than enough than too little. Leftovers, if you have them, are great for sandwiches and middle of the night foraging.

SCHEDULE: Purchase the roast early enough to allow you to dry age it for at least a week. If you only have a few days, that’s fine, but the longer you age, the more flavor you’ll develop. This is the step that will elevate your dinner to five-star standards. And it’s not hard to manage. For a detailed explanation of why dry-aging is the bomb, see the Fine Cooking post on the subject at

Step 2: Dry-age your roast

Unwrap the beef, rinse it well, and pat it completely dry with paper towels. Place the roast on a rack over a rimmed baking sheet or other tray, and put it in the refrigerator. I use the bottom shelf, where it’s coolest. Leave the roast for a week or up to two. Make sure to have any visitors admire the roast as it ages :-).

NOTE: This entree is often misidentified as prime rib. Consumers don’t usually have access to “prime” meat – that is a USDA grade of meet, and it’s only readily available to restaurants. You can buy it online, but that’s going to jack up the costs of an already expensive dish.

Step 3: Cook your roast

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees.

Remove the roast from the refrigerator. With a sharp knife, shave off and discard the hard, dried outer layer of the meat. Shave away any dried areas of fat, too, but leave behind as much of the good fat as possible.  I give the dogs these little shavings of meat. I have great karma with dogs.

Slather the roast with oil of your choice. If you’re going Paleo, melted coconut oil works. I use vegetable oil, but I’m not a purist on these issues. Use enough to completely coat the exterior of the roast.

Season the roast generously with salt and pepper. It’s almost impossible to over-season the exterior of the roast. Go big.

Put the roast in a heavy duty roasting pan. If you want to make jus or gravy after, make sure to use a pan that can be transferred to burners on top of the stove. If you’re not making gravy or jus, then any heavy duty pan will work. I don’t use a rack for these, but that’s because I want the browned pieces of roast that will stick to the bottom of the pan to add flavor to my jus – if you’re not making jus or gravy, you can use a rack if you prefer.

Insert the digital meat thermometer into the center of the roast. Make sure the tip of the thermometer is evenly situated half-way through. Set your thermometer to alert you when the roast reaches 140 degrees. This will get you a medium rare to medium roast. If you want your roast more rare, pull it at 135 degrees. Don’t cook it more than medium, though. Trust me on this one.

Cook the roast at 500 for about 20 minutes to a half-hour. You’re wanting to create a nice, crispy exterior at this point. It may take a little less, or a little more, time, depending on your oven and the size of your roast.

Drop the temperature down to 300 degrees, and continue to cook until your thermometer reaches 140 degrees. How long this will take depends on the size of your rib roast, but you can expect about 2 or 2.5 additional hours for an eight pound roast.

When roast has reached desired temperature, remove from roasting pan and let stand for at least a half-hour, but an hour is even better. Don’t remove the rib bones yet. If you remove the bones, or cut the roast too early, all the beautiful juices are going to run out, and that would be a damned shame.

After resting, remove the rib bones and set aside. These make beautiful stock, and are also delicious just for gnawing on later. Take the rib roast to the table for carving, and enjoy the accolades.

Here’s a link to the video instruction, too!



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