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Gotta’ Be Prime Rib for Christmas

A thick, juicy slab of medium-rare prime rib

The classic American Thanksgiving Turkey feast is undeniably fantastic. The question is, how soon do you want an encore? If you’re asking me, after about two weeks of re-reinventing turkey leftovers, I’ve had enough until, perhaps, Easter. With Christmas just around the corner, it’s time to move on to the next level: Prime Rib!

Of course, “prime” is a misnomer if you’re cooking a standing rib eye roast at home, as most cuts sold at the local supermarkets and big boxers are graded as “Choice”. O.K, fine then. Even though it’s “Choice Rib”, we’re still calling it “Prime Rib”. It just sounds better. Ha!

The following recipe and cooking method is a finely-honed hybrid of one I got from The Plaza Club (courtesy of mom), and also reading recipe after recipe, and watching several done on TV cooking shows. This method works like a charm, as I’ve done this 5 times already, never failing to get a perfect medium-rare finish, with a delicious, flavor-packed crust, and overall quite honestly, one that EVERYONE at the dinner table always raves about.

For this Prime Rib recipe from the Plaza Club in Downtown Honolulu, the seasonings are simply Hawaiian Salt, fresh cracked pepper, garlic and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

So let’s get our roast on!

Where’s the beef? Here it is…

This is a 9.67 lb bone-in choice grade rib eye roast, which went for $6.99/lb. on sale. Sliced properly, this was more than enough for our 10-person Christmas party. Notice the fat layer cap on top has already been pre-trimmed by the butcher. Most rib eye roasts in the market nowadays come that way. Also notice the marbeling and deeper layers of fat within, which are sure to provide tons of flavor and moisture inside.

Notice it’s on a roasting rack, which sits nicely within a roasting pan. You don’t need the rack, as you can sit it on its own bones, but I find the rack keeps it nicely away from its own drippings, making it easier and less messy (of drippings) afterwards to remove.

Before you’re ready to cook it, remove it from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for at least a half hour. You don’t want to start the rib roast from too cold a temperature, or the inside will remain raw and the doneness will be uneven.

Place it in the roasting pan (with rack if you have one).

Now let’s season it. Begin by taking whole, peeled garlic gloves and slicing them into manageable slivers (see following photo), then use the point of a sharp knife and poke a slit about 3/4″ deep (not too deep) into sections of the rib roast and insert the a garlic sliver (or two) into into each hole. Do it one at a time as you insert the garlic, or you might lose where all the other slits are. Start from the underside (bone side)…

… and work your way across in evenly-spaced rows, making your way to the top-side (fat side)…

After you’ve evenly “plugged” the entire rib roast with garlic, rub it lightly with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This will help the salt and pepper adhere to it and infuse with the meat. If you don’t have that, regular cooking oil should be fine. I wouldn’t use butter, as butter burns faster, and may result in a burnt crust.

Now generously coat the rib roast with Hawaiian Salt and fresh cracked pepper. Not too heavy on the salt; use a sprinkling technique. That should be perfect. You can go as light or heavy with the cracked pepper as you want. I think the more pepper the better. Here you can see how I do mine…

That is one HAPPY rib roast!

Recap: garlic placed in sliced “pukas”, EVOO rub, Hawaiian Salt and fresh cracked pepper. That’s it.

Time to hit the heat.

By far the most important tool you should have when cooking a prime rib is a meat thermometer. It takes all the guess work out of how long and/or hot to cook it. With that, I use a simple, yet very accurate analog Cooper meat thermometer, with detailed reading all the way from 0 to 220ºF.

Here, I’ve stuck the oven-safe thermometer into the very center of the rib roast, careful to get the probe end right in the middle of the meat WITHOUT touching the bone…

Don’t let it touch the bone, as the bone carries a higher heat and will give you a false reading. Notice the internal temperature reading dropped to about 40ºF after it was inserted, below the 80º room temperature reading it was at.

So what internal temperature are we shooting for to get a perfect medium-rare? As soon as it hits 120ºF remove it. You can even as low as 110ºF if you like it “bloody” rare on the very inside. With that 120ºF goal, notice that I placed that temperature at the “12 o’clock” position, which makes it that much easier to check through the oven window.

O.K., the rib roast is all seasoned up and the thermometer placed and ready to sizzle. Great. Let it sit there. Now fire-up your oven on BAKE or ROAST (not broil) to the hottest it will get, which for most home ovens is about 500ºF. What this high temperature will do is sear the outside and create a crust that will seal the juices within the meat. Sounds good, right? Once the oven is preheated to temperature, place the rib roast in there…

Now close the oven door and, if you can help it, DON’T open the door! Roast at 500ºF for 30 minutes, then reduce the tempurature to 325ºF. That’s it. It will take about 1-1/2 hours total cooking time for most rib roasts to reach that magical 120ºF internal temperature. Plus or minus of course, depending on your even, the size of the roast and other slight variables. That’s why the meat thermometer is such an invaluable tool in cooking perfect “Prime” Rib. It takes all the guesswork out. Just watch for 120ºF and yank it.

This really is an easy job, as the oven does most of the work, but I still would recommend keeping an eye on it. Especially if you’re not familiar with your oven. If you notice the outside is starts to look like it’s burnt, like getting blackened scorched areas, simply cover it with tin foil, wrapped around the thermometer so you can still see that.

Well, time’s up, the thermometer hit 120ºF, time to turn off the oven and remove it!..

Looks great. Now don’t go cutting into just yet! Patience my friend. You need to let it stand for about a half-hour to rest. Cover it with tin foil as it rests on the countertop (in room temperature conditions). This will retain the heat. During this resting period, not only will the residual heat continue to cook it, but it will also allow the juices to redistribute within the meat fibers, so you lose less of that as you cut into it. You DO want succulent, tender and JUICY prime rib, right? This resting period will almost guarantee that! By the time it fully rested, the temperature reading went up about 7ºF, finishing out just under 130ºF when the thermometer was pulled out.

Now get that HUGE cutting board out, and your best meat-cutting knife. Or, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND USING AN ELECTRIC KNIFE…

This wonder-gadget is very affordable (you can get a basic one from those Wal guys for about $10). The advantage of an electric knife is that its reciprocating cutting action requires less pressure on the meat, resulting in less “juice” loss. This is also an invaluable tool for carving, yes, turkey! Of course, be careful and cut THE MEAT, not YOUR meat (as in fingers). lol

Before you cut slices for serving, first remove the rib bones in one fell swoop. Start from one end of the bones, then just saw away, following the bone as a guide. This makes it SO MUCH EASIER to cut the main part into serving size slices. Sorry, I didn’t get a picture of this step. Next time! But folks, the meat around them bones is arguably the best part. But sorry, the chef gets that! Ha ha!

Time to serve! Using your wonderful electric knife, slice away to each person’s desire…

I cannot even describe how absolutely ONO this tastes!

What’s beautiful about cooking it medium-rare like this, is that there’s actually more medium sections towards the ends, as this cut shown in the photo just above was taken nearer to there, resulting in more medium-medium-rare doneness. There were certainly a few folks who wanted medium, if not well done, so they got the end slices. Us “bloody and still moo’ing” folks opted for the rarest center cuts. Like “buttah”!

So what do you serve with prime rib?

Of course, Au Jus. I make mine “semi-home-made”, using half packaged and half from scratch using the drippings from the pan. What I do is make a pot of the packaged (just add water) stuff on the side. Then with the drippings in the pan, drain the fat (oil), then add about a cup of red wine to deglaze, scraping off the fond “yum yums” from the pan and stir, letting the wine reduce just a bit. Then add about 2 cups of beef broth and about a pat of butter and salt to taste. Stir until that reduces just a bit, skimming off any more fat (this takes a little effort) using a spoon. Then combine this pan-made au jus to the packaged one simmering on the stove. Oh my God! Just pour this on mashed potatoes or rice and it’d be good! lol

Pour Au Jus in a gravy boat for service. Also serve with (bottled) Horseradish.

Side dishes we like are roasted potatoes (which can be done in the same pan with the prime rib), mashed potatoes, baked potato and/or of course, rice. Veggies can be anything from various preparations of broccoli, asparagus or mixed green salad. The simpler the better. Make the star the star: the Prime Rib.

Here’s a photo of a past Easter Sunday Prime Rib feast I prepared, so you can see the entire spread, as it should be shown…

In closing, I’ll say the Prime Rib is a sure guest-pleaser, and easy to do RIGHT as long as you have a meat thermometer, preferably an electric carving knife, and stick with basic seasonings. Even just Kosher salt and pepper would work. But garlic helps! Never mind any other herbs or getting fancy. No need. Let the beef speak. Prime Rib, next to a great steak is the ultimate speaker of all that is BEEF!

So what holiday do we have next? New Year’s Day! And you know what happens then! The Sugar Bowl! Go Warriors! And there’s only one thing that goes with that.. SASHIMI! and POKE! That will be my next post.

23 thoughts on “Gotta’ Be Prime Rib for Christmas

  • December 29, 2007 at 10:37 pm

    Oh boy! Gotta get a mop to wipe up my drool!

  • December 30, 2007 at 12:18 am

    yeah, I have the hungries right now. What a great looking roast…

  • December 30, 2007 at 2:13 am

    Ooh … that crust!

  • December 31, 2007 at 3:41 am

    Looking at it is making me drool.

  • December 31, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    “Ooh”. “Wow”. “Beautiful”. “Awesome”. “Drool”. I hear ya’ folks. That’s the same thing I thought (and heard) while carving it for our guests. lol

    The magnetic allure of Prime Rib!

    Here’s to a very Happy New Year to you folks. Have a safe and fun celebration tonight.

  • January 3, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    My drool cup runneth over . . . great job, great post!

  • January 7, 2008 at 1:01 am

    Ohhhh! Myyyyy Goddd! Can you smell da roast????

  • November 14, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Gosh that was too simple and the end product looked Oh so GOOD! Gotta try it!

  • November 9, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    Yes, let the beef speak, I use only a heavy crust of course sea salt nothing else, garlic and pepper will put flavor into the beef which I don’t want, I also let my meat come to total room temp before I start cooking it. Cooking method is about the same as yours except I only sear it at 450 for a half hour then down to 350 for the remaining time. Roast to temp you want ie: rare, med rare etc removing it 10 degrees before your desired doneness, let stand for 1/2 hour and with a paper towel wipe off the excess salt as much as you can. I have family and friends that always ask me to cook their rib roasts for special occasions, always comes out like the restaurant

    • November 12, 2015 at 5:57 am


      There’s a certain resort hotel who used to use of all things, McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning (that’s it; nothing else) for their prime ribs they serve at their banquets. Nothing wrong with that! Love that stuff! Now all they use is a couple of herbs (fresh), Hawaiian Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper on an EVOO rub.

      As I’ve mentioned before, My mom’s favorite Prime Rib recipe is the one from the Plaza Club, which is simply Hawaiian Salt and pepper, with slivers of fresh garlic poked into the fat cap. That one’s awesome too, and the garlic doesn’t burn, because it’s under the fat cap.

      That said, reluctantly, I may give your idea of just using Hawaiian salt as the seasoning a try. I totally understand your “let the (top quality ribeye) beef speak!” concept!

      Regarding temperature “blasting” methods for prime rib, I’ve heard one where they fire up the oven to 450ºF for I forget how long, then turn the oven off and leave the prime rib in there closed for HOURS (until ready for service). They say it comes out perfectly medium-rare and juicy every single time.

      I personally can’t do it without a meat thermometer probe to make sure the internal temp is hovering in the 120ºF (+ or – 5º) range before I yank it out of the oven.


  • December 12, 2015 at 9:15 am

    Thank you for sharing your simple methods of preparing..”Mop da’ da’ Plate up”..Prime Rib…”How to..”  prepare, Prime Rib, with simple methods, the Proper gadgets and ingredients…for a successful ..Celebration of “Beef”..I love the simplicity of your cooking methods. No’ need da’ fancy spices…only, @home basics. Mahalo for taking the time out to share your wisdom of cooking and preparation with us..Can’t beat, Local Hawaiian Island  Cooking…Simple, Never Camoflauged..jus’ “Ono”..Mahalo again..”Happy Holidays” and Aloha KeAkua…

  • December 12, 2015 at 9:21 am

    P.S. …I am subscribing to your website..I love it so much, I have to “Click” the “Share” button..to save this site to my Facebook Timeline…where I store all my “Favorites”..Mahalo again..for sharing, through your busy schedules…Aloha !

  • December 12, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    kalua grace,

    Mahalo plenty for the blog love!

    This very simple, tried ‘n proven Plaza Club Prime Rib recipe works really well and fairly easy to pull off with successful results.

    Like I said, the key is to use an oven-safe thermometer probe so that you can monitor the internal temperature, making sure it doesn’t exceed I’d say about 110ºF. From there, no more than 120ºF before you yank it out of the oven.

    Also make sure before you start seasoning the prime rib, that you let it come to just under room temperature. You don’t want to pop it in refrigerator-cold, lest it will affect the overall finished doneness, where the center part of the prime rib will be almost raw. Not good. You want that part blood-red ‘n juicy, yet still cooked to an ever-slight degree.

    Also, by all means, make sure after it reaches that magical 120ºF internal temperature threshold, that you let it REST at least I’d say even longer than 30 minutes; 1 hour even better. It’s a fine dance of heat management, serving “Prime Rib” at it’s “prime”. ;-)

  • December 12, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    I do mines the exact way, but I leave the skin of the garlic on.  Thanks for sharing!

    • December 13, 2015 at 8:03 am


      Why on EARTH do you leave the peel (skin) on the garlic cloves? That just makes no culinary sense, as that would trap the FLAVOR of the garlic within the peel, while obviously also being inedible.

      • December 15, 2015 at 2:33 pm

        Not the OP, but the skin has a lot of flavor, and many recipes like stews call for them with the skin. Similarly, many chicken soup recipes call for whole onions, peel and all. Lots of flavor there. Also, with garlic, the skin keeps it soft and supple, it doesn’t fry in the fat or harden and get too strongly flavored. By the time it’s done, you can’t really tell the skin is on there anyway. At least in my experience (and my guests experience as I never do the tasting when it’s meat)

        The OP might have his/her own reasons.

        • December 17, 2015 at 10:43 am


          True, however those are soups and stews, where all that flavor gets absorbed into a liquid. However don’t you think it wouldn’t work in an application such as being plugged into a prime rib (or any meat for that matter), where it’s not really immersed in a liquid? I’m thinking the garlic’s skin will turn crisp (from the high oven heat) and the garlic itself will get mushy (and full of flavor), while being trapped in the skin. Whew. That was a lot to think about! lol

  • December 13, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    i have never made a prime before and cant wait to try your methods  wish me luck






  • December 14, 2015 at 7:44 am

    holy macro, ive been craving a good prime rib since my birthday(2)weeks ago, and now i can make my own. thanks for the tip, just one question can i use rump roast?

    • December 14, 2015 at 9:46 am


      Well, rump roast is a tougher cut, and I honestly never tried it with that before. I’ve always used a (choice grade) BONE-IN ribeye roast. Expensive, but worth it for that special holiday feast! The cook/chef and the kitchen helper(s) gets to gnaw on them tasty rib bones!


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