Home with the Lost Italian: Christmas Prime Rib Roast an impressive holiday main dish

If you celebrate the Christmas holiday, it's time to start planning for your feast. Do you know what you're serving for Christmas dinner?

Bone-in prime rib is roasted with rosemary, thyme, sage, garlic and fresh pepper.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Bone-in prime rib is roasted with rosemary, thyme, sage, garlic and fresh pepper.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO — If you celebrate the Christmas holiday, it’s time to start planning for your feast. Do you know what you’re serving for Christmas dinner? Traditionally, in our family, my parents have prepared a duo of roast leg of lamb and prime rib, favorites that their large brood has come to look forward to each year with great anticipation.

However, my parents will be celebrating Christmas with my Grandma Sunny in Florida this year, and my siblings and I have been trying to figure out what the menu will look like for those of us who still need a white - or at least chilly - Christmas.

After searching the Internet for ideas, Tony and I were inspired by the impressive presentation of a crown prime rib roast, with the bones present and dramatically poised high above the meat. Yes, this looked like a perfect choice for our holiday feast.

Last week, we ventured out to our favorite butcher shop, Meats by John and Wayne in south Fargo, to buy a crown prime rib roast so we could give this new presentation a test run before introducing it at Christmas.

After visiting with Wayne Rheault, one of the shop’s co-owners, we learned that prime rib is their top seller for the holiday season, and will even be going on sale soon for the holiday season. And, while they do sell prime rib “bone-in,” the bones are shaved flush with the meat, thus eliminating those impressive crown points.


Wayne explained that prime rib is priced the same whether it’s on the bone or not, and most people want their money to go toward the meat, not the bone. Those customers who want prime rib on the bone are looking for enhanced flavor, not dramatic flair. However, Wayne passionately asserted that prime rib without the bone is just as flavorful.

“I’ve been a butcher since the 1970s,” he said, “and I will argue till I go to my grave that there is absolutely no difference in flavor, whatsoever, between prime rib with or without the bone.”

We decided to test this theory and purchased a bone-in prime rib roast, which was still a dramatic hunk of meat even without the bones standing tall. Tony made a paste of fresh herbs, garlic, kosher salt, fresh black pepper and extra-virgin olive oil, which he rubbed over the entire surface of the roast.

He placed the roast in a large roasting pan, bones facing down, and baked it in the oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes at 450 degrees. Then, he reduced the heat to 325 degrees and continued cooking for about 2 hours, until the meat reached an internal temperature of 130 degrees for a perfect medium-rare.

There are two golden rules to follow when cooking beef to ensure a great result. First, always use a meat thermometer to achieve an accurate temperature reading. Second, let the meat rest a good 10 minutes before carving. The meat will continue to cook even after it leaves the oven (our roast ended up at 140 degrees), and this step seals in all those delicious juices.

As the prime rib cooked, the smells wafting from our kitchen were so heavenly that our son, Gio, was practically drooling with excitement, and the resulting meal did not disappoint. Tender, juicy and succulent, this prime rib roast was outstanding. Our only wish was that we’d followed Wayne’s advice and gone boneless so that we’d have more leftovers to enjoy.

Christmas Prime Rib Roast

Serves: 6 to 8



8 pounds prime rib roast (boneless or bone-in)

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

4 to 5 garlic cloves, chopped

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil



Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a small bowl, use a spoon to mix the herbs, salt, pepper, garlic and olive oil together until well combined, creating a paste.

Using your hands, rub the paste all over the roast, coating the entire surface. Apply most generously on the top of the roast.

Place the prime rib, bones facing down if bone-in, in a large roasting pan. Place on the middle shelf in the oven and bake for 30 minutes at 450 degrees, uncovered.

Reduce heat to 325 degrees and continue cooking until meat reaches an internal temperature of 130 degrees, for medium-rare, about 2 hours.

Remove from oven and transfer to a cutting board. Cover with aluminum foil and let meat rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Serve with fresh horseradish and/or horseradish cream sauce.

“Home With the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owns Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their 11-year-old son, Giovanni.

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