Special Beef Dishes for Holiday Entertaining

Prime Rib and Beef Tenderloin

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we've had our fill of turkey and the trimmings. As we turn toward the December holidays, with all their sparkle and magic, what could be more fitting for a company dinner, traditional family get-together or holiday party than some of the finest beef cuts available -- prime rib and beef tenderloin - roasted to perfection.

The cook's best source of information about beef on the Internet is the excellent web site of the Texas Beef Council. In particular, the Cooking School section on Beef Cuts will explain just why the prime rib and tenderloin cuts are so tender and choice.

Prime Rib

Prime rib, or a standing rib roast, is one of my favorite entrées for a company dinner. It makes my guests feel extra special, while making me, the cook, look really good. And it's easy.

You'll need a good meat thermometer, either instant-read or ovenproof, a shallow roasting pan with a rack, and some cotton kitchen twine. You will also need:

  • A 6-1/2 to 7-pound standing rib roast, at room temperature, chine (back) bone removed
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 325°F.

Sprinkle or rub roast liberally with salt and pepper.

To ensure uniform roasting, tie the roast in the middle and at both ends (that's three pieces of twine), with the twine running in the same direction as the bone. Place the roast, fat side up, in the roasting pan. If using an ovenproof meat thermometer, insert it, making sure that it does not touch bone or fat.

Roast for 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 hours, or until internal temperature reaches 135°F for medium rare or 150°F for medium. Allow to rest, covered loosely with foil, for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing. Serve immediately upon slicing. Serves from 8 to 12.

National Prime Rib Day is April 27.
A flavorful alternative to basic prime rib, is this:

Lemon Thyme-Crusted Beef Rib Roast

  • 1 6- to 8-pound rib roast, small end, chine (back) bone removed)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon peel
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons coarse grind black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine ingredients for lemon-thyme paste, and press evenly onto roast.

Place roast, fat side up, in shallow roasting pan. Insert an ovenproof meat thermometer so tip is centered in thickest part of beef, not resting in fat or touching bone. Do not add water or cover. Roast in 350°F oven for 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 hours for medium rare, or 2-3/4 to 3 hours for medium.

Remove roast when meat thermometer registers 135°F for medium rare or 150°F degrees for medium. Transfer roast to carving board; tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes. (Internal temperature of roast will continue to rise about 10 degrees to reach 145°F for medium rare and 160°F for medium. Carve roast into slices. Makes about 8 servings.

The Right Sauce

You can make an excellent horseradish sauce by mixing equal parts of prepared horseradish and sour cream, and passing it among your guests. Or serve the milder, creamier Creamy Horseradish-Chive Sauce.

Your prime rib will be delicious on its own, but you can make an excellent horseradish sauce by mixing equal parts of prepared horseradish and sour cream, and passing it among your guests. Or try this:

Creamy Horseradish-Chive Sauce

  • 1 cup dairy sour cream
  • 1/4 cup prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes about 1-1/3 cups.

An excellent alternative sauce is Quick Peppercorn Sauce, a recipe that relies upon the depth of flavor provided by thyme, red wine and crushed peppercorns.

Quick Peppercorn Sauce

  • 1 can (13-3/4 to 14-1/2 ounces) beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • 10 whole black peppercorns, crushed
Combine broth and cornstarch mixture in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook and stir for 1 minute or until sauce thickens. Add bay leaf and thyme, and cook over medium-high heat 10 to 12 minutes, or until sauce is reduced to 1 cup. Reduce heat to low, and stir in wine and crushed peppercorns. Simmer for 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf before serving. Makes about 1-1/4 cups.

Cookbook Review:
Texas Holiday Cookbook
Texas Holiday Cookbook

Beef Tenderloin

Beef tenderloin makes a fine entrée for your best sit-down dinner party; however, it can also be the star of the buffet menu for your holiday cocktail party. It's delicious whether served hot, at room temperature, or cold. Thinly sliced, it can serve a great many people.

Basic roasting instructions for beef tenderloin are fairly simple. You'll need:

  • A 4- to 5-pound trimmed beef tenderloin, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 425°F. Rub the tenderloin with the olive oil, and then rub in the salt and pepper. If using an ovenproof meat thermometer, insert it into thickest part. Roast the tenderloin on a rack in a shallow roasting pan for 45 to 50 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 140°F for medium-rare or 150°F for medium. Allow to rest for at least 15 to 20 minutes before slicing.

Beef Tenderloin Spiced to Your Liking

Beef tenderloin is an opportunity for culinary creativity. You can marinate it overnight, if you like. An especially nice marinade for this purpose is 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme. Or you can coat the tenderloin with your favorite dry rub (for a distinctly southwestern flavor, try a mixture of 2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano) and roast as described above.

It is doubtful that you will be adding prime rib and beef tenderloin to your weekly meal rotation. But the holidays are a special time with special traditions and, of course, special food. These entrees will measure up to the highest standards for your holiday dining and entertaining.