Friday, December 21, 2012

Prime Time

Dear Readers,

A few years ago, pre-Muffin, my husband and I rented a place near the lake for Christmas with my family.  I offered to make dinner and my Dad said "I don't want turkey or ham.  Let's do prime rib"  OK.  Now if you know me, you know that I'm not a "chef" in the tradition of Julia Child.  Key selling points for me when looking at a recipe are words like, "easy," "fast," "simple," and "just pop it in the oven."  Also, as a past Vegan I'm just not a big red meat eater and generally never prepare beef for myself.  My "kitchen staples" include garbanzo beans, broccoli, couscous, hot sauce, chocolate chips, marshmallows and bread.

So it was with trepidation that I purchased a very large cut of prime rib at Whole Foods, armed with an Ina Garten recipe I'd found online.  I trust and respect Ina for reasons I'm not entirely clear on.  Perhaps it's because she's chubby, so I believe she really loves food and eats what she prepares in real life.  Or maybe it's because I wish I could emulate how stylish and planful her meals are: special lunches for visitors to take with them to the beach, festive summer fish bakes with friends on the seashore, or a cozy and extensive dinner for just she and Jeffrey.  I aspire to be a skinny Ina, or Ina's sassier younger sister.

Anyhow, the prime rib cost something outrageous and all I could think was "I'm about to burn over a hundred dollars worth of food and ruin Christmas and we're basically snowed in so we're going to starve."  Au contraire.  I followed Ina's recipe to the "T" and received the following (uncommon and never bestowed) compliment from my Godfather: "This is delicious and perfectly done."  Ha!  In the end, I did not ruin the meat, Christmas was perfection, and in truth I'd bought so much food we would have survived until spring anyhow, but seriously: If I can do it, so can you.

Here's the infamous (and now "traditional Christmas") recipe for perfect prime rib and the best mustard sauce ever.  Serve, as we do, with mashed potatoes with chives and a simple green salad.  Seriously, how easy is that?

Merry Christmas!!

Ina's Perfect Rib Roast 

  • 1 (3-rib) standing rib roast (7 to 8 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Mustard Horseradish Sauce, recipe follows
  • 1 1/2 cups good mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Two hours before roasting, remove the meat from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F (see note).
Place the oven rack on the second lowest position.
Place the roast in a pan large enough to hold it comfortably, bone-side down, and spread the top thickly with the salt and pepper. Roast the meat for 45 minutes. Without removing the meat from the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F and roast for another 30 minutes. Finally, increase the temperature to 450 degrees F and roast for another 15 to 30 minutes, until the internal temperature of the meat is 125 degrees F. (Be sure the thermometer is exactly in the center of the roast.) The total cooking time will be between 1 1/2 and 1 3/4 hours. Meanwhile, make the sauce.
Remove the roast from the oven and transfer it to a cutting board. Cover it tightly with aluminum foil and allow the meat to rest for 20 minutes. Carve and serve with the sauce.
Note: Be sure your oven is very clean before setting it at 500 degrees F.
Mustard Horseradish Sauce:
Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, horseradish, sour cream, and salt in a small bowl.
Serve and enjoy!!


  1. Ended up using the recipe for Christmas dinner as Whole Foods was out of the crabs we had originally planned on. It turned out great and my mother is demanding I send her the recipe for the horseradish sauce so she can serve anytime there is beef on the table!