How to Properly Cook a Christmas Roast
Ok – so you went for it and bought an incredibly expensive Christmas roast. Now what? Need some help with how to properly cook a Christmas Roast? You have come to the right place, but keep in mind this is my first cooking post 🙂
A Bit of Background on Roasts
We’ve all seen How the Grinch Stole Christmas, right? The Grinch even takes the Who’s roast beast! That always made an impression on me as a kid. I exercised and worked out a lot so I was always hungry. We had roast beef on many Sunday nights. My dad liked roast beef, but of course growing up in Connecticut in the 1970’s and 1980’s, it was not a bastion of high quality beef – think small, chewey, but well, it was what we knew.
The first big piece of prime rib roast I had was at the Morton House in Niantic, CT (it is long gone these days). We were celebrating 2 consecutive state soccer championships the whole team and a parent were invited to have a big dinner. I had never seen prime rib before. When they brought out our plates, I remember saying to my Dad, “Is that all mine?”. I simply could not believe it. Dad had one too. We ate every darn possible molecule. I’ll never forget it. We talked about that dinner the entire ride home to Old Saybrook and for several days or weeks after…ok I’m still talking about it.
This was a significant moment in my life, one in which I learned about food beyond what I had in Old Saybrook, not to mention that bit about championships. As an adult, I’m super excited to cook a roast for Christmas that is to die for, just like that one at the Morton House. I grill a lot, but usually there is just one roast per year. Go big or go home I say. Here’s my best advice on how to succeed with a major grilling and oven task with all the family waiting and expecting big things.
A Word About the Equipment for Cooking a Christmas Roast
Like I said before, I grill a lot. Usually 3 times a week even in the Pennsylvania winter. I have a Napolean Pro 500 RSIB grill that has served me well for 10 years. We’ll be using this guy to start the process. This is a propane fired grill.
After the initial phases we’ll be using a fairly basic GE natural gas convection range-oven. Nothing fancy.
A Christmas Roast Starts with Beef
Over the years we have acquired roasts from local grocery chains like Wegmans, local growers like our wonderful None Such Farm here in Buckingham, but this year we decided to get our roast from Allen Brothers in Chicago, IL. Why? Well we did a bit of a sample and tried a few steaks from there. They were amazing so we decided that we would try their roast.
We want to have plenty (I mean a lot!) of leftovers and we’ll have 6 of us for Christmas dinner, plus the dog. So we picked out their 7-rib wet aged USDA Prime hand cut roast – total weight is about 14 lbs.
The beef arrived packed in dry ice and we moved it straight into the deep freezer, where it would wait until December 22 to emerge (about 3 weeks).
Preparing the Christmas Roast
We like to eat on Christmas in the late afternoon. This means we need to move the roast from the deep freezer to the refrigerator on the 22nd. From there it will start a slow defrost process. On the 23rd and 24th we will take it out onto the counter for a couple of hours each day to speed up the defrost process a little. I’ve found that you want this to go slowly. You want to have the beef nearly at room temperature on the 25th so it is important to get it thawed slowly and on-time.
One of the most important factors in getting a great roast is the sear. We create a butter crust that has rosemary, thyme, and a clove of peeled and chopped garlic (fresh!). The grill is heated to 600F with the upper racks removed. The roast is first placed rib side down for 2 minutes and then flipped for 90 seconds – keep the grills closed during these time intervals. This is pretty dangerous so definitely do not walk away and use hot gloves to flip and then remove the roast. There is a lot of flame so move your grill away from the house, see the pics below.
Into the Oven Goes the Christmas Roast
Once the searing is done, the roast needs to be slow cooked in the oven. Here’s what the seared meat should look like –>
A digital thermometer is helpful here, definitely insert it close to the bone through the main part of the beef. We started our roast at 325F in the oven and after 2 hours reduced the temperature to 275F. We cooked the beef until the thermometer read 128F.
The meat was then removed and covered with foil to rest for 45min. You can see how the meat is pulling back from the bone evenly across the entire rack, this is a key sign things are going good. This last and often overlooked step is the most critical: REST YOUR MEAT!
Final Results – Christmas Roast Spectacular
Oh boy…well this year’s roast came out pretty darn good. Along with the roast we did serve croissants, green beans, twice baked potatoes, and a decent Cabernet. Good luck with your roast, but the main things to remember are: thaw slow, sear hard, cook slow, and rest, rest, rest. Best of luck on your roast.
Here in 2021 I am still cooking this cut from Allen Bros. I have to say that this year’s roast was even better. A bit less on the sear (about 10 sec less on each side) and I removed the roast from the oven when it hit 127F. Small changes, but a big difference I think.