There is very little more appealing to partake in, very little more sumptuous a thing to put on the tongue, than a delectable morsel that is only eaten on a special occasion—at least in my mind. Somehow, that morsel just seems to hold within it the wonderful flavor of desire, that fragrant essence of anticipation, because it’s been very consciously and specifically chosen and prepared for an occasion meant to hold some gravity, and meant to be memorable and unique. See, that’s the marvelous thing about a culinary “splurge”; because it is a rarity, and that makes it that much more appealing and unforgettable when deliciously prepared. From the purchase of it, to the preparation of it, to finally sitting down at the table to deliberately enjoy it, there’s much forethought that goes into the process; and all of that equals that much more depth of pleasure, that much more richness of flavor and complexity of character, than if it was just “another” meal. The realization is there that, most likely, it’ll be quite a while until this treat is experienced once again, perhaps another year even; so each bite becomes a consciously and deliberately taken one, allowed to melt away in the mouth with joy in the heart. My, oh my! What a brilliant ingredient that longing can be! And what a flavor enhancer a rarity, a splurge, can become—especially during the cozy and festive holidays!
When it comes to food, nothing says “special occasion” or “holiday”, like a perfectly seasoned, herb-crusted and garlic-stuffed prime rib roast. Savory, succulent, tender and juicy, prime rib roast is the perfect pick when there is a desire to share something truly divine with loved ones. True, it is a choice a bit more on the pricey side; but as it’s something that in our house we eat only once a year, on Christmas Eve, it’s well worth it. As a prime rib roast sears, sizzles, browns and roasts in the oven, the aroma permeates the entire house—first wafting around the kitchen, and then making its way into the dining room, followed by the living room and the rest of the home; it offers a little fragrant preview of what awaits us in just a couple of hours time, and creates a toasty warmth as the set-up of the dinner table begins. And because of the uniqueness of a prime rib roast, there’s a joy and feeling of gratitude that accompanies our whole dinner experience when it is a part of our special holiday menu.
The flavor of a holiday splurge should never be taken for granted; rather, it should be fully luxuriated in, fully enjoyed and fully acknowledged for the gift that it is. If a prime rib roast was something that was eaten on a regular basis, it most definitely wouldn’t have that magical “specialness” that it indeed has for my family; it would be like any other tasty meal. But no, our once-a-year little festive dinner, our special, celebratory holiday meal—complete with candles, some good wine, stimulating conversation, reflection and hopes for the upcoming year—becomes a very conscious and meaningful splurge; one that we won’t taste again until next year, God willing, and that’s perfectly fine with us.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Herb Crusted, Garlic-Stuffed Prime Rib Roast with Creamy Dijon-Horseradish Sauce and Au Jus
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(Serves about 8-10)
1 (3-bone) Beef Prime Rib Roast*, about 5-6 lbs.
4 cloves of garlic, peeled, divided use
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ cup olive oil
• Creamy Dijon-Horseradish Sauce (recipe below)
• Au jus (recipe below)
*I had the butcher cut the bones off of my rib roast, and reserve them for me; I seasoned my roast and placed it back on top of the detached ribs, and roasted them together. This makes for easier slicing of the meat once it’s roasted, and the ribs act as a natural and flavorful “rack” for the roast itself to sit on.
(For extra bold flavor, I allowed my rib roast to sit, seasoned and stuffed with garlic, in the fridge for 48 hours before I planned to roast it; I simply placed the seasoned roast with it’s bones onto a platter and into a jumbo-sized ziplock bag, and removed it from the fridge an hour before roasting.)
-Preheat the oven to 425 degrees; line a baking sheet with foil.
-Make 8 small slits into the rib roast (4 on top and 4 on the bottom) about ½” – 1” deep; take two of the cloves of garlic, and quarter them creating 8 smaller pieces; stuff the pieces of garlic into the slits.
-Next, take the remaining 2 cloves of garlic, press them through a garlic press and add them into a small bowl; to the pressed garlic, add the chopped, fresh rosemary leaves and the remainder of the ingredients through the olive oil; with a fork, mix the ingredients until well combined, and rub this entire fragrant mixture all over the rib roast, covering it completely (at this point, if you had the butcher remove and reserve the ribs for you, you can now place the seasoned roast on top of the ribs); place the roast with it’s fat-side up and ribs down onto the baking sheet, and place the roast into the oven; cook for 45 minutes at 425, then reduce the heat to 375, and continue to cook for another 30 minutes at which point you will cover the roast lightly with foil, and allow it to continue to cook for an additional 30 minutes or so, or until a thermometer inserted into the center of the roast registers 135 for medium rare, or 145 medium; remove the roast from the oven, lightly tent with foil, and allow it to rest for about 20 minutes before carving the roast into roughly ½” thick pieces. Serve with the Creamy Dijon-Horseradish Sauce and Au jus on the side.
(**If you are looking for the results featured in the photos, here are my exact specifications for your frame of reference: my roast was a 5.28 lb roast, and cooked for exactly 1 hour 45 minutes, total, using the method described above; I placed an oven-safe thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, into the center, before placing it into the oven; this way, I could observe the temperature as the meat roasted, and pulled it out at exactly 135 degrees.)
Creamy Dijon-Horseradish Sauce ingredients:
4 ounces prepared horseradish
¼ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• Pinch sea salt/ black pepper
-In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients, and whisk together until smooth and well-combined; cover with plastic wrap and store in fridge if making ahead of time, or serve immediately.
Au Jus ingredients:
(makes about 1 cup of Au Jus)
• Pan drippings from roast, most of the fat skimmed off (you may or may not have that much)
2 cups beef stock or broth
½ cup red wine
• Pinch salt/black pepper, if necessary
-Add the pan drippings into a small heavy-bottom sauce pan, and add the beef stock/broth into the drippings along with the red wine, and turn the heat to medium; bring this to a simmer, and allow it to reduce by roughly half, for about 20 minutes; finish with a pinch of salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve the Au Jus, hot, on the side with the meat. (This will be a thin, natural-style sauce for the meat.)