Holiday Recipes: Directions for a perfect holiday prime rib dinner

Our family became dear friends with a butcher many years ago and we have enjoyed dining upon roasted prime ribs of beef for our Christmas Eve dinner many years now. 

I am finally getting a handle on how best to cook a rib roast. When I go to the big kitchen in the sky, I would like “She finally mastered cooking a prime rib to perfection” on my gravestone.

This prime rib roast is cooked using a very traditional method of roasting it on a high temperature for a few minutes and then reducing the heat and finishing the cooking at a lower temperature.

This technique produces a perfectly medium-rare prime rib with a gorgeous brown crust on the outside. It will work equally well for either a bone-in or boneless prime rib of beef of between 4 and 18 pounds. For a bone-in prime rib, figure two servings per rib, while a boneless roast will yield two servings per pound.

Because of its superior quality, prime cuts of beef are best prepared using dry-heat cooking methods such as roasting and grilling.

Hint: Purchase a meat thermometer if you do not own one. 

The night before you are going to cook the prime rib, unwrap the roast and let it sit uncovered in the refrigerator. This will dry out the surface, which makes it easier to get a nice brown color on the roast.

Three hours before you want to begin cooking, take the roast out of the fridge and place it on a cutting board at room temperature.

Half an hour before you start roasting, pre-heat your oven to 450°F and season the roast generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. I also rub minced fresh rosemary and garlic onto the meat.

1.When you’re ready to cook, set the roast in a roasting pan with a rack, fat-side-up for a boneless prime rib. Or for a bone-in prime rib, skip the roasting rack and just set the roast bone-side-down in the roasting pan. Insert a meat thermometer or a digital probe thermometer into the deepest part of the meat, being careful not to hit bone. If you’re using a digital probe thermometer, set it to alert you when the meat hits 120°F (see note below).

2.Roast for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 325°F and roast until the meat’s internal temperature reaches 120°F, which will be another hour to three and a half hours, depending on the size of your roast.

3.When the prime rib hits 120°F, take it out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board and cover it with foil. Leave the thermometer in! You’re going to want to rest the meat for 30 to 45 minutes, during which time the temperature will continue rising to around 130°F, which is perfect for medium-rare, and then drop back down to 120°. When it hits 120° it’s fully rested and ready to slice and serve. 

4.Note: If you prefer a medium prime rib, take it out at 130°F with a target temperature of around 140°. Either way, you’ll still want to rest the meat until it comes back down to 120° before carving it.

Serve with Yorkshire pudding (popovers) (the recipe can be found at HomerNews.Com), horseradish sauce and/or freshly grated horseradish. 

For a tasty horseradish sauce I mix Beaver horseradish sauce (sold on the aisle with other condiments), sour cream, fresh lemon juice and salt.

My Christmas wish for you and your family is to be able to relax and enjoy this special time of year. I hope Santa is good to you and brings you lots of cookbooks and fun, new gadgets to play with in the kitchen. Mrs. Santa sends you all big hugs. Merry Christmas!


Wild Mushroom and Potato Gratin 

Serves 6-8

Wild mushrooms add a luxurious feature to this comforting, almost classic potato gratin. By the end of cooking, the soft potatoes will have absorbed all of the flavorful liquid in the dish, and the top and edges of the gratin will be crusty, the way a gratin should be.


• ½ ounce (about 1/2 cup) dried porcini mushrooms 

• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 

• 1 pound wild mushrooms, torn into smaller pieces if large, cleaned if necessary (you can use creminis if there aren’t wild mushrooms available)

• ½ cup finely chopped onion or 2 shallots, minced 

• 1-2 garlic cloves, minced, plus 1/2 garlic clove, intact 

• 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves, chopped 

• ½ teaspoon each minced fresh rosemary and sage 

 • Salt 

• ¼ cup dry white wine 

• Freshly ground pepper 

• 1 ½ pounds russet potatoes, golden potatoes or Yukon golds, scrubbed, peeled if desired, and sliced about 1/4 inch thick 

• 1 cup, tightly packed, grated Gruyère cheese (4 ounces) 

• Salt to taste 

• Freshly ground pepper 

• 2-1/2 cups milk (whole or 2 percent) 


Step 1: Place the dried porcinis in a bowl and pour in 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Soak for 30 minutes. Line a strainer with cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Drain mushrooms, then squeeze in cheesecloth to extract juices. Save the juice. Rinse several times and chop medium-fine. Measure out 1 cup of broth.

Step 2: Heat oven to 375 degrees. Rub inside of a 3-quart gratin dish or baking dish all over with the cut half garlic clove and lightly oil with olive oil. 

Heat oil in a wide, heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion or shallots and cook gently until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn up heat to high and add fresh mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until they begin to sweat, 2-3 minutes, reduce heat to medium, and add minced garlic, thyme, rosemary, sage and dried porcinis. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper and continue to cook over medium heat until soft, about 5 more minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring, until wine is no longer visible in the pan. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Step 3:  In a large bowl combine potatoes, mushrooms, half the cheese, and salt and pepper. Arrange in an even layer in gratin dish.

Step 4: Combine milk and mushroom broth. Season generously with salt and pour over the potatoes and mushrooms. Press the vegetables down into the liquid. Bake 1 hour. Every 20 minutes remove gratin dish and press potatoes and mushrooms down into the liquid with the back of a large spoon. After 1 hour, sprinkle on remaining cheese and bake for another 30 minutes, until top is golden and the sides crusty. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Serve hot or warm.

Date Balls 

Our dear friends Jim and Josie adopted our family while we lived in Adak, right before we all moved to Homer. We have been together enjoying our Homer life so long that we are unofficially family. Josie is from the south and has shared many of her southern rooted recipes with me. One confection we all enjoy from her kitchen are her date balls. I never asked her for the recipe, as she made them for us frequently. They are a special treat and I doubt mine would be as good as hers. I told her I needed her recipe for the column so you can enjoy them in case you don’t have a Josie in your life!

Measure 4 cups Rice Krispies cereal in large mixing bowl and set aside.

Combine the following in a medium sized saucepan and cook over medium heat 5-8 minutes until mixture is thick:

• 1 8-ounce package of chopped dates

• 1 cup sugar

• 2 sticks (1 cup) butter

Add date mixture to Rice Krispies in bowl and stir to combine. Be careful as date mixture will be hot.

Add about 2 cups confectioner’s sugar to a shallow bowl.

Form date and cereal mixture into balls about the size of a walnut in the shell and then roll in confectioner’s sugar. Set aside to dry and firm up.

Orange Sesame Honey Cookies

I love sesame seeds and anything with them in it. This is a tasty

cookie recipe that contains two wonderful flavors, orange and sesame. The drizzled topping adds another layer of orange and honey flavor.


•1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

• 1/2 cup brown sugar

• 1/2 cup butter, softened

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

• 1 large egg

• 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

• 1 teaspoon baking soda

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds

• 2 tablespoons honey

• 2 teaspoons grated orange rind

• In a separate shallow bowl, 1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds

Frosting drizzle mixture

3 tablespoons orange juice

3 tablespoons honey


Preheat oven to 350°. Combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter and vanilla in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy. Add egg; beat just until blended. Beat in flour, baking soda and salt. Beat 1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds, 2 tablespoons honey and grated orange rind into cookie dough at medium speed to combine.

Place 1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds in a separate bowl; scoop dough by tablespoonfuls and roll in sesame seeds.

Arrange cookies 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined or lightly greased baking sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes.

Combine orange juice and honey in a bowl; drizzle mixture over cooled cookies.