Holiday Showstopper: Prime Rib ​

By Ann Foster Thelen

For a spectacular holiday meal, consider prime rib. Take out the intimidation for cooking this delicious cut of meat with tips from the Iowa Beef Industry Council. Plus, they share an indulgent recipe.

For a special meal at Christmas or to ring in the New Year, mouthwatering prime rib is often on the menu. Also known as “standing rib roast,” prime rib is a tender, flavorful cut of roast from the rib section of the steer – just one of the eight prime cuts of beef.

The exact origin and beginnings of prime rib are unclear. However, most historians agree beef roasts became popular during the Industrial Revolution in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the U.K.

While cooking prime rib might seem intimidating, the Iowa Beef Industry Council offers the following steps and tips to master this showstopping celebratory meal.

Step 1: Buying Prime Rib

At the store, prime rib can go by different names, including standing rib roast, holiday roast or ribeye roast. It can be found in the meat case with both boneless and bone-in options.

Generally, a boneless beef roast should yield three to four cooked, 3-ounce servings per pound of uncooked meat. For holidays and special occasions, it’s a good idea to call your meat retailer in advance and order the type and size roast you need. Think about second helpings when deciding what size roast to purchase.

Plan about 3 ounces of cooked beef per serving. Generally, a boneless ribeye roast will yield three 3-ounce cooked, trimmed servings per pound; a bone-in rib roast will yield 2½ servings.

Step 2: Cooking a Prime Rib

The best way to cook prime rib, or the ribeye roast, is to roast it in the oven fat side up to your desired doneness and allow it to rest, tented by aluminum foil, for 10-15 minutes before slicing. This will ensure that the juices have a chance to settle into the roast before cutting into the meat. Larger roasts need more time to rest, often up to 15-20 minutes. Those few extra minutes are a great opportunity to make au jus from the reserved beef drippings. Pronounced oh-zhoo, au jus translates literally to “with juice.” It is a broth-like gravy made from beef juices left over from cooking.

It’s also important to remember the temperature will continue to rise 10 to 15 degrees F when it comes out of the oven.

Roasting times may vary depending on the size of the roast and if it is boneless or not. These roasting guidelines offer a general rule of thumb. But it’s always best to follow the individual recipe or packaging for specific times.

Watch the following video for great tips on prepping and cooking prime rib.

Step 3: Carving Prime Rib

The most important tool for properly carving your roast is a sharp knife (be safe!). If using a meat fork, don’t pierce the roast to hold it in place. Use the back of the fork instead (tongs work great, too).

To get delicious, even slices from the prime rib, first turn the roast on its side and remove the ribs. To do this, follow the curve of the ribs as closely as possible, making sure to hold the roast steady with a serving fork or tongs. Cut each slice along the rib bone. Always cut across the grain for maximum tenderness. Once the ribs are removed, turn the roast with the fat side up and carefully slice pieces to your desired thickness.

Step 4: Pairing Wine with Prime Rib (Optional)

With prime rib, the meat is tender, savory and rich with a good amount of marbling. The marbling translates to big flavors, making a young, bold wine, like Cabernet Sauvignon, a perfect pairing. The marbling in the prime rib interacts with the young Cabernet’s harsh tannins, bringing out the great taste of fruit. Some other excellent wines to pair with a Prime Rib include a Syrah, Rhome Valley, Rioja or Barolo.

For a spectacular prime rib, try the following recipe from the Iowa Beef Industry Council.

Photo credit: Iowa Beef Industry Council

Pistachio-Crusted Beef Rib Roast with Holiday Wine Sauce

1 beef ribeye roast bone-in (2 to 4 ribs), small end, chine (back) bone removed (6 to 8 pounds)


½ cup unsalted shelled pistachios, finely chopped
¼ cup coarsely crushed coriander seeds
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse grind black pepper

Holiday Wine Sauce

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup finely chopped shallots
1 cup beef broth, divided
1 cup cabernet sauvignon
1 tablespoon cornstarch
⅛ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine seasoning ingredients; press evenly onto all surfaces of beef roast.

Tip: To coarsely crush coriander seeds, place seeds in food-safe plastic bag; seal well. Crush seeds with rolling pin, using a back-and-forth rolling motion.

Place roast, fat side up, in shallow roasting pan. Insert ovenproof meat thermometer so tip is centered in thickest part of beef, not resting in fat or touching bone. Do not add water or cover. Roast in 350-degree F oven 2¼ to 2½ hours for medium rare; 2½ to 3 hours for medium doneness.

Remove roast when meat thermometer registers 135 degrees F for medium rare; 145 degrees F for medium. Transfer roast to carving board; tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes. (Temperature will continue to rise about 10-15 degrees F to reach 145 degrees F for medium rare; 160 degrees F for medium.

Meanwhile, prepare the holiday wine sauce. Heat olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add mushrooms and shallots; cook and stir 6 to 9 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and browned. Remove from skillet; keep warm. Add ¾ cup broth and wine to skillet; cook and stir over medium heat 12 to 16 minutes or until reduced to 1 cup. Combine remaining ¼ cup broth and cornstarch in small bowl. Whisk cornstarch mixture and pepper into wine mixture; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; add thyme and mushroom mixture. Season with salt, as desired.

Carve roast into slices; season with salt, as desired. Serve with holiday wine sauce.