Welcome to Gaining Elevation, a column dedicated to kicking your kitchen game up a notch. We’ll explore classic and often-used recipes, and get professional insight into how to get great results every time. From desserts and cocktails to mains and sides, nothing’s out of bounds!
The holiday table is practically defined by opulence — rich, plentiful spreads are the perfect centerpiece for warm, boisterous gatherings of family and friends. It’s time to share dishes that feel as special as the time of year, and few are more luxurious than prime rib.
We often associate this decadent roast with professionally prepared affairs. It can seem intimidating to pull off in your own kitchen. But chef Will Bradof of Local said that shouldn’t be the case. If you keep a few key things in mind, you can make an impressive and delicious prime rib for your next holiday spread. First and foremost, understanding what the cut is can help make it seem more accessible, he says. “I think many people don’t understand what a prime rib really is,” he said. “It’s just a whole roasted hunk of ribeye steaks,” he said. It’s true; prime rib is not some exotic slice of beef, but simply, ribeyes that haven’t been individually sliced yet.
The fundamental step for success is selecting quality bone-in meat, Bradof said. Keeping it local is best. “We have a lot of great options for that here,” he said. “Look for one with a good level of fat within the meat, and also a good fat cap.” Both the bones and the fat will not only add flavor to the roast, but will help keep it from drying out.
Once you’ve selected an excellent roast, Bradof recommended removing the bones. “Follow the bone down along the side with a sharp knife, and it will come right off.” But don’t throw ’em just yet. Season the meat, then use butcher’s twine to tie the bones back on. This step allows you to get all the flavor and moisture-keeping properties of the bone, and also to shape the roast so it cooks evenly.
When it comes to seasoning, Bradof said that there are plenty of options, but simplicity is often best. The ultra-basic is a simple rub of olive oil, salt and pepper. “It’s very simple, and really lets the meat speak for itself,” he said. Bradof’s favorite route is a chimichurri rub made of fresh herbs that complement the beef’s flavor. Under seasoning is an easy error to make, he said, so be sure to use plenty of the blend you’ve decided on. Then, it’s into the oven.
“People get very intimidated by temperature,” he said. Relying on recipes that recommend a specific time per pound for roasting can lead to disaster. It’s best to use a good meat thermometer to determine doneness. Bradof recommended starting the roast off at 450 F to create a sear and color on the outside of the meat, and then turning the oven down to 375 F. If your oven isn’t up to the task, Bradof encourages embracing other routes to create a beautiful sear and flavor. “Put it on the grill, pop it into a smoker — those are great ways to get the sear on the exterior of the roast.”
A quality roasting pan is helpful as well, Bradof said. “Keeping the meat up and off the surface of the pan with a rack is good because it helps the bottom not just steam. Also, a good pan will let you collect drippings to make a pan sauce. You can’t do that if they get scorched.”
Aim for 120 F in the center of the roast, and then allow it to rest before carving and serving. Overcooking is one of the easiest pitfalls for prime rib, Bradof said. Don’t wing it on doneness; your thermometer is critical here. A perfectly done roast will have the ideal spread of cuts for your group — pieces on the ends will be medium, and slices closer to the middle will be rarer.
Classically, prime rib is served with a rich jus made from the drippings of the roast and a horseradish crème fraiche. Bradof likes to keep the sides light, given the richness of the protein. Grilled vegetables and a creative puree of potato, parsnip, celery root or sweet potato make ideal rustic and simple sides.
As you’re gearing up to share the holidays with those you love, make sure what’s on the table is as bold and celebratory and unforgettable as the season itself. Don’t let the fancy reputation of prime rib intimidate you; following Bradof’s suggestions will help avoid any major pitfalls. And a dish like this is bound to impress.