Christmas dinner with flair

by Kay Blakely
Defense Commissary Agency home economist

***image1***Christmas is such a special time and the meal you serve to celebrate the occasion should be equally special.
Ham and turkey are both typical fare, but if you really want to do it with flair, consider serving a beef rib roast with Yorkshire pudding. A rib roast, also called standing rib roast or prime rib, is elegant enough to impress a visiting mother-in-law who is sure her son and grandchildren are malnourished because you just can’t cook. Believe me, she’ll be more than impressed – she’ll be speechless.

 Even though a rib roast is impressive, it’s very easy as long as you educate yourself on a few critical points beforehand. Be sure to purchase a roast from the small end of the rib. Sometimes it’s also called loin end since it is the portion of the whole rib that is closer to the loin. The small end contains the large, single rib-eye muscle and is much leaner than cuts from the larger end of the rib. Also, be sure the chine or backbone has been removed; otherwise you’ll have a very hard time trying to carve the roast.

 Ask your commissary’s meat specialists to help you choose the best of what they have to offer. In some locations a rib roast may be a special-order item, so plan ahead and allow several days for delivery. If your store has an in-store butcher, ask if he can cut the rib bones off the meat and tie them back on. You need the bones and fat to protect the rib-eye meat during roasting, but when it’s time to carve, removing the meat from the bone is simply a matter of clipping the string.

 A two-rib roast, weighing four to five pounds, will serve four to six people. If more is needed, plan on each additional rib providing two to three servings more. The recommended roasting method is best described as low and slow – plan on 15 to 30 minutes per pound. Once out of the oven, the roast needs to rest for 15 to 30 minutes before carving, which is almost exactly the amount of time needed to bake the Yorkshire puddings. See how easy this is going to be?

  Buy your rib roast at the commissary – I have a hunch it will be at the best price you’ll find anywhere.

Beef rib roast with Yorkshire pudding
(Serves 8 to 10)Roasting time: 2¾ to 3½ hours
1 (6- to 8-pound) beef rib roast, small end, chine (backbone) removed
6 cloves garlic minced
1½ teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Let roast stand at room temperature for up to two hours, if desired. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Position rack in lower third of oven. Pat roast dry with paper towels.
Combine garlic, thyme and pepper; press onto roast on all sides.
Place roast, fat side up, on a rack in a 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 at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.
Reduce temperature to 250 degrees and roast to desired doneness as measured by meat thermometer. Medium rare: 135 degrees (2¼ to 2½ hours); Medium: 150 degrees (2¾ to 3 hours).
Remove roast to platter, cover loosely with foil, and let stand 15 to 30 minutes.
To carve, set the roast on a cutting board, rib bones perpendicular to the board. Using a carving fork to hold the roast in place, cut along the rib bones to sever the meat from the bones. Set the roast cut side down; carve the meat across the grain into thick slices.

Yorkshire pudding  
(Makes 12)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Combine flour, chives, thyme and salt in a large bowl. In second bowl, whisk milk and eggs; gradually whisk into flour mixture until smooth. Refrigerate up to one hour. After roast is removed, heat oven to 450 degrees. Divide melted butter among 12 muffin cups; tilt to coat bottoms. Divide the pudding batter equally among muffin cups, filling about half full. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until puffed and golden. Serve immediately.