[97] Boneless Prime Rib for a Small Crowd

How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman

Bill and I have two farms we tend to buy meat from at “Green City Market.”:http://www.greencitymarket.org/index.asp One I’ve mentioned in passing several times, is “Meadow Haven Farm.”:http://www.meadowhavenfarm.com/ While they have beef, we tend to purchase from them mostly poultry and pork. In fact, I think we’ve never purchased beef from Meadow Haven.

The farm we get our beef from, generally, is “Heartland Meats.”:http://www.heartlandmeats.com/ Now, we don’t buy it explicitly because it tastes better. We have, in fact, not tried most of the other vendors’ beef. We end up buying it from Heartland because it is pretty darn good, and because we managed to form a relationship with them, albeit “just” buyer and seller, long before we connected with any of the other farmers. Furthermore, John has patiently answered all of my questions about his meat, how they raise it, AND what he thought of State of the Plate back in November. (For the record, Jeremy of Meadow Haven has done exactly the same.)

It was, however, John’s daughter (whose name I sadly cannot remember) who sold us this rib cut. It was late October or early November, and I asked about several kinds of meat, and rib roasts in particular. Oddly, I wasn’t actually looking to buy a rib roast when I was asking, just trying to get a good sense of how one cooked them. She had a lot of tips, had a lot of interesting stories, and talked me into a 2lb boneless rib roast for my birthday. Which I subsequently instead roasted for Christmas. She also gave me a copy of her family recipe for rib roast. Which I didn’t use because I lost it in the run up to Christmas. So, instead Mr. Bittman came through for me once again.

(I have since found the recipe, and stored it in a better location. Phew!)


1 boneless prime rib, ~3 – 5 lbs, tied to uniform thickness & trimmed of excess, but not all fat (Your butcher can tie it for you; I cooked a 2 lb roast.)
Salt & freshly ground pepper

1 – 2 cloves garlic, peeled (Optional; I used three)

1 c red wine, stock or water


Bring the meat to room temp by removing it from the fridge at least one hour before cooking, preferably two. Heat the oven to 450F

Put the meat in a large roasting pan & sprinkle liberally with salt & pepper. If using the garlic, cut the peeled garlic into tiny slivers; use a boning or paring knife to poke small holes in the meat & insert the garlic slivers into the holes.
Put the roast in the oven and cook, undisturbed for 15 min. Turn the heat down to 350F and continue to roast for ~1h; check in several places w/a meat thermometer. The meat is done when no spot registers less than 125F (120F if you like really rare, like me); cook for another 5 – 10 min if you like it better done, then check again, but in no case allow the meat to go above 155F. (A 3lb roast “is certain to be done in less than an hour and a 5lber won’t be much longer.”)

Remove the meat from the oven. Pour off all but a few tablespoons of the fat and put the roasting pan on a stove-top burner over high heat. Add the liquid & cook, stirring & scraping up any browned bits, until it is reduced by half, 5 – 10 min. Slice the roast and serve, splashing a little of the sauce on the meat platter and passing the rest at the table.

Cooking and Consumption Notes


Well, for one, pay attention to the part where you’re supposed to cut the garlic into slivers if you’re using it. If you don’t, you end up trying to figure out why you’re randomly shoving a couple of garlic cloves into small holes in a honkin’ piece of meat. And when it cooks up, those holes become a great deal bigger.

That said, this is a GREAT idea for a holiday meal, dinner party or even a “special because there’s nothing special about it” weekend1. Seriously. It’s amazingly simple to make, and elegant to present. It’s probably not what you’re looking for if you’re looking for weekday cooking, but only due to the length of time it’s in the oven, not due to any complexity of cooking.

We didn’t have much fat to pour off, so I didn’t feel the need to go there. I think that if I had, I’d actually use my metal measuring spoons to pull out whatever seems like a goodly amount (in this case, I’d guess 2 tbsp) and then pour the rest off. For me, and probably not for people who are inherently good cooks, this seems like an easier method than trying to estimate how many tablespoons are left in the pan, even if it’s just “several” or “a few”.


I could not be happier that the woman working the Heartland Farms booth talked me into this. I did, in fact, cook it to “really rare” and it was delicious. Even Bill thought so, and he tends to like his beef less rare than I do2.

The meat was, itself, quite rare and juicy, and surprisingly tender. We weren’t cutting it with forks, but we also did not need steak knives to eat it. Which is good, given that we don’t own any.

Bill and I also both agreed that the wine sauce was delicious enough to just drink. Not that either of us did so, but we were both a little tempted, and there might have been some sopping up of the sauce with bread. Maybe.

For our little family, this could easily become a Christmas tradition. Not only did it taste wonderful, but it was a very special meal. It was made by both of us over the course of the day, with a lot of laughter and joy. We had a wine we loved to cook (and drink) with, and had meat produced by farmers we like and respect, allowing us to reflect on our own food values. We served it on a platter I’d painted years ago (you’ve seen it before, and you’ll see it again, I’m sure) that still brings a smile to my face. It’s not “deeper and more meaningful art”, but making it was an enjoyable & creative experience, and produced something of value that I use regularly in my kitchen. All in all, it was a wonderful family dinner, even if the family in question was just the two of us and the rest of our family had to be reached via phone calls.

I know this recipe is a bit late for “the holidays”, but I hope your holidays of that time, and times to come, were and are just as peaceful, thought-provoking, and just plain enjoyable as this was for us. And I hope that, if you eat beef, you make this for yourself sometime. Maybe next weekend, as I hear there’s a holiday coming up that lends itself to impressive, but easy, meals. Maybe in a couple of weeks, just because.

Thanks for sharing our holiday with us, albeit belatedly.

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fn1. You know the weekend. Where you pull out the fancy china and fancy napkins and fancy cocktails or whatever it is you’d be inclined to save for a special occasion, and use them right here and now, for “no reason”. Because, in the end, you & your family are special and that should be celebrated too.

fn2. Though, in the interests of full disclosure, he’s coming around. He’s so much coming around that when we went for my birthday dinner at “Inovasi”:http://www.inovasi.us/, and beef tartare was on the tasting menu, he not only tried it, but enjoyed it. Still, somehow, he doesn’t want his beef cooked “rare”. Strange man, that one.