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How to roast a prime rib

Rib roast with tapenade

Big holidays demand big roasts, but you just did turkey a couple of weeks ago. So now it's on to something else. For a lot of folks, judging from questions we get here at the Food section, that means a standing rib roast -- or as it's often known: prime rib.

Good choice. There are few pieces of beef that I love better. And they're amazingly easy to cook, even for rank beginners. The trick is concentrating on low and slow. Because these roasts are so huge and have so much mass, you want to cook them for a long time at a fairly low temperature in order to ensure you get an even range of doneness.

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The other trick is being sure to let them rest for at least half an hour before carving. This allows the juices in the meat to settle back in, meaning there'll be more on the plate and less on the carving board.

After the jump is a recipe I did several years ago that won a lot of readers' hearts.

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Photo: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times

Rib roast with tapenade

Total time: 2 1/2 hours

Servings: 8

6 ounces pitted black olives

3 cloves garlic, divided

4 anchovy filets

3 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed

About 1/4 cup red wine

1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) standing rib roast

Freshly ground pepper

3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

Olive oil, optional

12 baguette slices, toasted

1. Pulse the olives, 2 cloves of garlic, the anchovies and rosemary leaves in a food processor. Add just enough red wine to allow the mixture to form a fairly smooth paste.

2. Score the fatty sides of the rib roast in a diamond pattern, using a sharp knife to cut through the fat but not into the meat. Smear the top and both sides of the roast with the olive mixture, season generously with pepper and let it stand at room temperature 30 to 45 minutes to marinate. Reserve any leftover olive mixture.

3. Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Carefully transfer the rib roast to a shallow roasting pan, bone-side down. Disturb the olive smear as little as possible. Roast to an internal temperature of about 115 degrees. This will take about 2 hours.

4. In a food processor, pulse the bread crumbs, remaining clove of garlic and the 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary until the garlic is minced fine. Remove the roast from the oven and pat the seasoned bread crumbs over top. Spoon over some of the fat from the bottom of the pan and return the roast to the oven. (If there is very little fat, sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the crumbs.) Continue roasting to an internal temperature of 125 degrees, about 20 minutes more.

5. Remove the roast from the oven, cover it loosely with foil and let it stand an additional 30 minutes before carving. Use the remaining tapenade to smear on the toasted baguette slices and serve it alongside the carved roast, dipped in the juices.

Each serving: 558 calories; 532 mg. sodium; 97 mg. cholesterol; 36 grams fat; 14 grams saturated fat; 26 grams carbohydrates; 30 grams protein; 1.89 grams fiber.
 
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