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Dec 16, 2004 08:27 AM

Standing rib roast for 3?

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We are having a relatively intimate dinner this year on Christmas compared to the 20+ we usually host. It will just be 3 adults and a pre-schooler. I still want to make a special meal. My husband is a real carnivore so I was thinking about a standing rib roast.

My question is: is it a waste to make one for just 3 people?

Last time I made one was for a group of 10 and roasted a 5 rib roast. So I was thinking we would really only need a 2-rib one, which just seems so puny and I am afraid it will overcook. Since we are leaving the next morning for a week long vacation there is no need for leftovers.

So if it IS a waste any idea for a great red-meat special occasion meal that doesnÂ’t tie me to kitchen all day? Something more special than a rib eye or filet either topped with something (usually blue cheese) or wrapped in bacon?


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  1. There are usually only four of us for Christmas dinner including an anorexic teenager. I get a two-rib roast and it works just fine for us. There might be a little left over but not much.

    1. I would definitely not bother with the rib roast, as a two-rib roast is a less than optimal way to enjoy that cut. Why not simply get great steaks (on the bone, if you prefer)? If you don't want to grill them you could pan-grill them or broil them.

      1. Actually, ours turns out pretty damn optimal. The key is to go to a butcher for a good cut of beef. I've used some variation on the Gourmet recipe below for about ten years now and its never failed us. I use 1/2 cup of Madiera wine to deglaze the pan for the sauce before adding the beef broth (less the amount of Madiera substituted). It's terrific with yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes and steamed asparagus.


        2 Replies
        1. re: Ellen

          But that recipe serves 8 and my question was about serving just 3. I have an awesome recipe that I use but just wasn't sure it was worth translating down from 10 to 3. Have you actually served this using a much smaller roast?

          1. re: foodiex2

            I've only ever used a two-rib roast with this recipe. We're a small family. It's never failed.Of course I adjust cooking time accordingly -- use a good thermometer. And I'd rather have too much gravy than too little. If you have leftover beef, its wonderful reheated in the gravy and served over leftover mashed potatoes.

        2. Do you have a good butcher? If so he or she may be able to provide you with a mini-roast of steak. We have had lovely experiences with a rib eye or New York steak cut three or four inches thick.

          Sear well and then roast in the oven. Let rest and then carve at the table. The proportions are better keeping with your crowd.

          1 Reply
          1. re: JudiAU

            Yes- this is what I was going to say as well - just get a smaller rib-eye instead of the standing rib roast. You definitely miss the cap and any bone-gnawing if you're a dedicated carnivore, but the tradeoff is a still very tasty piece of meat that's much more manageable. If you have leftovers, slice thin the next morning and make sandwiches for the trip. Or have for breakfast as steak & eggs - most soitanly a carnivore favorite!

          2. I would not settle for a large steak. There are several places in my area that sell smaller roasts that are very suitable for 3 - 4 adults. I made a delightful 3.5 lb rib roast, rare to medium-rare as people wanted. Allow to sit at room temp for 2 hours then added slivers of garlic into meat. Coated with olive oil. Prepared a crust of flake salt, crushed peppercorns, fresh rosemary (chopped), onion powder, and herbs de Provence. Put the crust on the meat then put the roast on the center rack in a 300 degree oven - that's right, did not oven sear the roast, I used the stovetop pan-searing method after the roast was done. Have 2 meat thermometers so I used them both with one slightly more towards an end and one smack in the center of the roast. Removed the roast when the center read 110 for rare. At that point the probe for the edge read 114. Allowed the roast to rest while I made the rest of the meal then seared it on the stovetop for 1 minute a side. Had perfect slices of medium rare for 2 adults who wanted it and perfect rare for the other 2 with a little left over. Very simple. Definitely not tied to the kitchen and low stress because there's no period of high heat that can complicate the timing for cooking a small roast.