3 hrs, plus overnight for seasoning the roast
“Rib roast has always seemed Dickensian to me,” says Roy Finamore. “I have this image of a bandy-legged dog trotting in some kind of wheeled contraption to turn the spit, and the fire flaring as the fat melts. But it really is an elegant dish, and taking the roast off the bones makes carving a breeze.”
What to buy: We recommend ordering the rib roast from a good butcher a week or two before the holidays. You can even have him remove the bones for you—just don’t forget to take them with you!
Don’t skimp on the rosemary here. You definitely need the full amount to infuse the roast with all that piney, glorious flavor.
Special equipment: A good roasting pan is important, but don’t drag out your expensive behemoth of a roaster if it’s too big for the meat. The drippings will smoke and burn, and the roast won’t cook properly.
Use a sharp, flexible knife to cut the roast off the ribs, by running the knife down along the ribs and almost scraping them.
Mash garlic and salt into a paste, either in a mortar and pestle or with a chef’s knife on a cutting board. Rub paste into roast. Season roast all over with additional salt (about 2 teaspoons) and freshly ground black pepper (be generous).
Place some rosemary sprigs on the bones and set the roast on top. Cover the rest of the roast with rosemary and tie everything together with kitchen string. (Your mission is twofold: securing the rosemary to the beef, and ensuring that the roast keeps it shape in the oven.) Set the roast on a rack over a small baking sheet and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Take roast out of the refrigerator, transfer to a roasting pan (11-by-14 inches is a good size; the fat tends to burn when it has room to spread out in a large roasting pan), and let it sit on the counter for about 1 hour before you put it in the oven. Heat the oven to 475°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Put onions in a heatproof bowl and add enough boiling water to cover. When water is lukewarm, peel onions and keep them on the counter in a bowl covered with a damp paper towel.
Roast beef for 1 hour. Reduce heat to 350°F and roast until internal temperature is about 115°F, about another 30 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven, and pour off all but about 2 tablespoons fat. Add onions and stir to coat in fat. Continue roasting until internal temperature of roast reads 125°F for medium rare, about 20 minutes. Transfer roast to a cutting board and let it rest about 20 to 30 minutes.
Pour off any fat in the roasting pan, add wine, stir, and return the pan to the oven until onions are soft and browned, about 10 minutes.
Remove string and rosemary from roast. Lift roast off the bones and slice the meat thin. Arrange slices on a platter, surround with onions, and serve.
Beverage pairing:Long Meadow Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. This dish is a great excuse to break out a big red wine, and this Napa Cabernet fits the bill. It has classic cassis and black cherry, but is also laden with spice and herbs to dance perfectly with this dish.