Salt- and Herb-Crusted Prime Rib with Fresh Horseradish Sauce

Photo: James Baigrie; Styling: Karen Shinto

Packing a prime rib roast in a salt crust keeps it moist and makes those richly seasoned end pieces hot items at the table. This herb-crusted prime rib looks gourmet and is full of flavor.

Yield: Serves 8, with plenty of leftovers
Recipe from Sunset

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Recipe Time

Total: 3 Hours
Resting: 1 Hour, 30 Minutes

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
  • Calories: 427
  • Calories from fat: 53%
  • Protein: 47g
  • Fat: 25g
  • Saturated fat: 9g
  • Carbohydrate: 1.7g
  • Fiber: 9g
  • Sodium: 859mg
  • Cholesterol: 136mg


  • 1 four-rib beef rib roast (about 8 lbs.), fat trimmed to 1/4 in.*, or 1 boned, tied beef cross rib (chuck) roast (4 to 6 lbs.)
  • 8 garlic cloves, slivered lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary leaves or 2 tbsp. dried
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme leaves or 2 tbsp. dried
  • 3 tablespoons freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup coarse sea salt
  • Fresh Horseradish Sauce (see link in step 5 below)


  1. 1. Rinse roast and pat dry. With a small, sharp knife, make small slits all over the meat, and insert a piece of garlic in each.
  2. 2. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, herbs, and pepper. Rub mixture all over meat, wrap airtight, and chill overnight.
  3. 3. Remove beef from refrigerator 1 hour before roasting. Preheat oven to 450°. Set roast, fatty side up, in a roasting pan. In a small bowl, mix salt with 2 tbsp. cold water to moisten. Press mixture over the fatty side and the ends of meat.
  4. 4. Roast for 25 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 350°. Continue roasting until a thermometer inserted into the center of thickest part of meat reaches 125° for rare (or 130° for medium-rare; the ends will be more done), 1 1/2 to 2 hours longer. Let rest in a warm place 30 to 40 minutes.
  5. 5. Scrape as much salt off roast as you can. Cut string holding meat and bones together. Transfer roast to a cutting board, cut into 1/3- to 1/2-in.-thick slices, and arrange on a platter. Cut between bones and add them to platter. Serve with Fresh Horseradish Sauce.
  6. *For easy carving, have the butcher cut the rib-eye muscle from the bones, then tie the meat and bones back together for roasting.
  7. THE WINE: Serve Cabs in a range of prices (see Wine Picks, below), and play the high-low game: Have people choose their favorite and guess the price. You'll be surprised at what comes out on top.
  8. Wine Picks: Cab Choices for the Main Event:
  9. Robert Sinskey Vandal Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 (Los Carneros, Napa Valley; $48). Lively cassis and dark berries play over a foresty bed of juniper, cedar, and mocha flavors.
  10. Robert Sinskey "SLD" Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 (Stags Leap District, Napa Valley; $85). The winery's showcase wine-elegantly structured, with complex layers of dark plums and cherries, cedar, and espresso.
  11. Spottswoode "Lyndenhurst" Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (St. Helena, Napa Valley; $60). A plush wine with classic cassis, dark chocolate, a touch of cedar, and fine tannins.
  12. The Girls in the Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (Red Hills, Lake County; $20). A great-value, fruit-driven Cab made by old friends of the Sinskeys. A little mint and a few herbs lurk under juicy black cherries.
  13. Note: Nutritional analysis is per 6-oz. serving without sauce.
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