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Charred Prime Rib Roast for Christmas

Regional food traditions are cornerstone of Italian cooking. This is never more true than during the holiday season. Each of Italy's 20 regions have different culinary traditions for Christmas. For Christmas Eve dinner, cena della Vigilia, there is a custom of having a meatless light supper with seafood at the center of the plate. A version of this tradition developed into the Feast of the Seven Fishes when in the early1900's Italian-American immigrant families celebrated Christmas Eve with a special dinner where seven different seafood dishes or more set the table.

On Christmas Day the meal is the centerpiece of the celebration, a great family feast where luxurious dishes are served and a separate table is needed to hold all the desserts. In Italy the abstinence of Christmas Eve is broken with a variety of regional meat-centric specialities that include pâté, pork, capon, stuffed pasta, lamb, brasato and bollito and in our tradition a classic rib roast with an Italian twist using a technique called reverse sear.


If you're able to plan ahead, season your prime rib with salt at least the day before, and up to four days ahead of roasting, letting it sit on a rack in your fridge uncovered. This will allow time for the salt to penetrate and season more deeply while also drying out the surface, which will lead to better browning during roasting. If you are able to do this omit salt from seasoned rub.


  • 6-7 lb rib roast (4 or 5 bones)

  • 6 tbsp seasoned rub (see below)

  • 2 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper

  • 4 cups baste (see below)

  • board dressing (see below)

For the seasoned rub

  • 2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tbsp garlic powder

  • 1 tbsp coarse sea salt

For the baste

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 stick unsalted butter

  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar

  • 2 tbsp very fine minced garlic

  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

  • 2 tbsp grated yellow onions

  • 1-1/2 tsp sea salt

  • 1-1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup Dolomiti white wine vinegar

For the dressing

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 tsp thyme, chopped

  • 1/2 tsp rosemary, chopped

  • coarse sea salt to taste


To make the Seasoned Rub – Combine the black pepper, garlic powder and coarse sea salt in a small bowl. Transfer to a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder and pulse to the consistency of sand.

To make the Basic Baste – Combine all the ingredients except the lemon juice and vinegar in a 2-quart saucepan and bring just to a simmer; remove from the heat. For the best flavor, refrigerate in a tightly sealed container for 1 to 2 days (reheat over low heat to melt the butter before using). Whisk the lemon juice and vinegar into the baste before using.

To prepare the Rib Roast - Season the beef all over with the rub then lightly moisten your hands with water and work the seasonings into the meat. Allow to stand for 10 minutes. Place the beef in a large dutch oven and sear unit browned and slightly charred, turning then flipping the meat on all 4 sides. You will complete the char using the reverse sear method at the end of the roasting. Transfer the beef to a platter; brush lightly with the baste and let rest for about 5 minutes. Now place the roast on a V-rack in a roasting pan and set it in a preheated 250°F oven for about 3 - 3.5 hours until the internal temperature reaches120 degrees for medium rare or 130 degrees for medium. Remove the prime rib from the oven, cover with a foil. To finish and deepen the char,10 minutes before serving, pop the prime rib back into the oven, uncovered at 500 degrees for about 6-10 minutes for a beautifully crusted, rosy, juicy piece of meat. Rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.

To make the Board Dressing - Meanwhile, make a basic dressing by combining the olive oil, parsley, salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. Slice the meat 1/4 inch think and turn each slice in the dressing to coat. Place on a platter and then pour the resulting meat juices over the roast.

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