How to Cook Prime Rib of Beef

Prime rib has long been been a traditional Christmas Day favorite for the May family until Abigail became a vegetarian and Miranda decided she didn’t want to eat animals she liked:  who would have thought she would have developed a crush on a cow?

David "Bogey" Pinson carving Prime Rib

David carving Prime Ribs

As such, for the better part of 20 years, Sheila and I have had to tiptoe around the peculiar dietary habits of our daughters.  This Christmas, we imported some of Sheila’s Texas relatives to weight the voting in our favor.    I would like to share our recipe for prime ribs which is strongly influence by my mother, Rosemary “Grand Dame”  May.  The secret to cooking memorable prime ribs is the use of that delightful Indian spice:  Fenugreek.

Fenugreek or trigonella foenum-graecum (as Lord Cheseline of Maiden Lot prefers)  is an ancient spice cultivated in the Near East and often found in curries .  What I didn’t know is that Fenugreek aids in breastfeeding.    Given my biological limitations, I am not able to provide any first-hand evidence to support this claim.  In any event, this is a great spice to enhance the taste of meat.  I have experimented with many varieties of meat and fenugreek always super-charges the flavor.  Nevertheless, I have now decided that the flavor of fenugreek is so aromatic that it is best reserved for those special ocassions when you serve prime rib.

Recipe for Prime Ribs


  • Recommend 3/4 lb to 1 lb per person (bone-in standing prime rib roast) for ample left-overs.
  • Have your butcher cut the roast off the chine bone or backbone and firmly tie the roast to the chine bone
  • We recommend using prime beef (not aged)
  • Gently pat the roast (at room temperature) with a mixture of 3 parts salt, 1 part pepper and 1 part fenugreek and some flour.  (Precise mixture subject to taste, but a little flour helps browning).  Sheila often uses a wooden spoon to pat the mixture onto the roast.
David applying fenugreek mixture to prime rib

David applying fenugreek mixture to prime ribs


  • Preheat oven to 450°
  • Roast for 15 minutes at 450° and lower temperature to 325°
  • For medium rare  estimate 20 minutes a pound.  The internal temperature should be 125°
  • Allow the roast to rest (uncovered please!) for at least 20 minutes before serving.  Actually, the roast can rest for 30 minutes or longer,

This is a simple and very tasty piece of meat.  The juices make for great gravy which should be served with Yorkshire pudding (more later) and mashed potatoes.  The aromatic smell of fenugreek will linger in your kitchen for at least two days.


  1. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I will certainly try it.

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