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Wagyu Rib Roast for Christmas Dinner

Written By Culinary Pen on Tuesday, January 6, 2009 | 7:54:00 PM

On Christmas Eve my family has always cooked in, but gone out for Christmas Day to one of two restaurants. This year we decided to stay in for Christmas Day and plan something spectacular for dinner. Along with roasted potatoes with caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, and a snappy green salad with smokey blue cheese, among other delicious highlights made by my sister Becca, I got put in charge of the beef. Like a kid in a candy store, I began to outline the bovine's more succulent cuts.

I think I first had Wagyu beef two summer ago, when I grilled up two steaks on the porch. Blown away by their flavor, I tried it again when I grilled two Wagyu tri-tips this summer. So the idea was kicking around the back of my mind to try something a bit more grand with Wagyu beef. For Christmas, I chose the rib roast, not only because a standing rib roast is a classic entree, but I love the full flavor of rib eye

If you're not familiar with it, Wagyu is a breed of cattle (in the same sense Angus is a breed of cattle, compared to a Jersey milk cow), famous for providing the meat for Japanese Kobe beef. But this cow in the photo was coming from Texas, not the Kobe province of Japan (which can hit $88/lb wholesale for uncleaned primal cuts). What makes this cow such a cash crop is the intramuscular fat swirling through all of the tasty, tasty meat. While this fat-padding is assisted by feeding the cows a diet of rich foods, a lot has to do with their genetic disposition towards this kind of fat development. That's why the wagyu breed, raised in Japan or Texas, is so prized.

Famously, Kobe beef cows are known as the cows who are fed beer and massaged with sake all day. Lately, though, this practice has come under fire, as along with all the intramuscular fat, the cows put on a huge amount of body fat just under the skin. So their joints swell up, and are massaged down to keep the beast alive till it can get to market. Not exactly the therapeutic massage you'd imagine. Anyway, my cow was from Texas and didn't smell like rice wine, so why make it smell like guilt? Let's move on.

I picked up a 20 lb rib joint of the cow, which isn't really a "standing rib roast" as it is the whole front rib section, right before you hit the shortloin. We cut three very generous steaks off each side and brought it down to what I could estimate being a 10-13 lb roast. I didn't want to season it too aggressively and detract from the flavor of the actual meat, so I just used a bit of salt and a few smashed cloves of garlic.

The roast was seared at 450 for about 30 minutes, then finished at 325 to hit medium rare at the center. With the outer cuts being well done, then medium, them medium rare inward, everyone got their desired doneness. We served with a bit of homemade horseradish sauce to add a bit of zest to the richness. The meat was wonderfully succulent, beefy, and flavorful. One of the best cuts of meats I've had? Oh yes. Not an everyday thing, but a really phenomenal item for a special occasion.
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